Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Dems know their presidential candidate is Barack Obama, now have to answer ‘why’ instead of ‘who’

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We previewed the 2012 GOP race in last week’s column, but we didn’t want President Barack Obama to feel left out, so this week’s column is devoted to his re-election run.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be the Democratic Party nominees for president and vice president for 2012. That’s it. Be safe driving home. Bye.

Yes, Obama and Biden will be the nominees from the Democratic Party. The convention won’t take long to make that clear. The drama lies in the direction the president will take in the re-election campaign: what will Obama run on.

Health care reform! Well, wait, most Americans don’t have health-care reform. Maybe not 99%, but most. Ironically, most of the teabaggers might like health care reform but a lot of them don’t have it, so they complain, but not for the same reasons liberals complain.

Job growth! Obviously, this isn’t going well. Obama and the House Dems did take baby steps to help in the first 2 years, but with the GOP in charge of the House, what little help was coming has almost ground to a halt. Difficult to reject or pass a jobs bill when the GOP-led House hasn’t passed a jobs bill in almost a year, and has already announced a shorter working year for 2012. Among Dems, Nancy Pelosi is held in higher regard on jobs than the president because of the rather cool legislation passed by the then-Dem controlled House, but Republican and Democratic politicians in the Senate denied or watered-down many of those improvements. But Pelosi isn’t running for president; Obama is.

Wall Street and banking reform! The Dodd-Frank bill passed (watered-down), Elizabeth Warren kicked butt before running for her own seat in Congress, the old Ted Kennedy Senate seat currently being held by teabagger hero Scott Brown. And banks had to be more forthcoming about fees, the backlash of which we saw with Bank of America pushing an odious $5 debit card fee after major banks begged consumers to use debit cards. Some help, but not as much as Wall Street and the banks received.

The stereotype is that Dems do well in domestic policy and the GOP does well in foreign policy, but Obama has scored some points outside the United States. The death of Osama bin Laden tops the list as well as the plan to get out of Iraq on time. We are still in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay is still open for business; even the Canadians got out of Afghanistan (rule of thumb: if Canada doesn’t get into a war, you shouldn’t be there, e.g., Iraq, Vietnam).

Obama should get some credit for the democratic (small d) uprisings in the Middle East, though the American press is reluctant to help out Obama on that point.

“Obama in 2012: Could have been worse.”

We have seen with Greece and Italy that many world factors have contributed to the world wide economic crisis. But while the United States is no longer #1 in many categories, when the American economy fails, the world suffers as a direct result. And Obama has had a difficult road to climb to get the U.S. economy even back to “decent.”

President Obama hasn’t really understood that the Republicans aren’t the only enemies he has. The unprecedented behavior by U.S. corporations to stockpile cash instead of employing Americans. The obnoxious borderline-illegal behavior from banks over foreclosures and reluctance to help out with loans to small businesses that have every likelihood of paying them back. The antagonism from Wall Street after coming to their defense with bailouts. If Republicans were Obama’s only problem.

Obama hasn’t helped with his need for compromise that would have made him a fine president in a by-gone era; the other side doesn’t want to play with you, Mr. President, and again, this isn’t just Republicans who aren’t playing.

Americans want hope and optimism, even if it is completely fake. Running against Herman Cain, Rick Perry, or Michele Bachmann can mean saying things will be worse under them than you, President Obama. But fighting that fight won’t sway the moderates that went for you in 2008. And in running against Mitt Romney, you won’t be able to make that argument because unlike most of the GOP field, moderates can imagine a President Romney.

“Obama in 2012: You liked him four years ago.”

In 2008, the GOP field was headed by a cantankerous 72-year-old who quit his campaign and whose major decision was picking Sarah Palin for the ticket. Obama’s hopes shouldn’t rest on the GOP doing something similar in 2012, even if Republicans pull a repeat.

We are seeing signs of Obama being tougher on Republicans just in time for the 2012 election cycle. But in an administration that still employs Wall Street friend Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary, those that voted for Obama aren’t seeing the person they voted for in 2008. True, they read things into Obama that he didn’t promise; those aren’t his fault, but they do belie Obama’s reality. Mr. President, your supporters want you to fight for what they believe in for our society.

Democratic voters might be relieved to know who the 2012 nominee is, but they have several months to ask “why.” Why hasn’t Obama done more to help those in bad economic terms? Why hasn’t Obama fought back against the Republicans, et al.? Why isn’t Obama tougher on Wall Street and the banks? Why don’t we have more jobs?

Like the Republican voters that we profiled last week, you have time to figure this out, but not as much time as you think.

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