Part III: Why Obama Will Win in November 2012
Richard Neustadt’s classic ‘Presidential Power’ is, perhaps, the leading authority on the actual role of the American president. At its core, Neustadt argues, the presidency is just about being persuader-in-chief.
Although he is the most powerful man in the world, the President is also a slave to divided government between the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. Thus, if he is to wield his awesome power, the president must, first and foremost, be persuasive in getting Congress and the Courts to see his point of view.
This thought is rife throughout Bob Woodward’s latest criticism of Barack Obama. The Price of Politics basically makes the case that the 44th president did not use everything in his arsenal to get the recalcitrant and mostly obdurate Republicans to help in governing his problematic nation. Within the delicious nuggets of journalistic detail about the embarrassing debt ceiling crisis of 2011, Woodward also gives us insight into why Obama is not necessarily the diabolical failure that the Republicans and conservatives say that he is. Mr. Obama is, instead, a person who made slight errors that were turned into major issues by his opponents.
To illustrate: At a key juncture of negotiating with John Boehner, Speaker of the House, Obama decided to use the phone to stipulate his requirement for an additional US$ 400 billion dollars in tax revenue. Woodward says that instead of making this demand face to face, Obama used the phone – faux pas in a highstakes poker game! And this is, perhaps, one of the series of compounding factors for the debt ceiling crisis. But here, it is important to note that Woodward does not say that things went awry because the president was unreasonable in his demands on his opponents. It was, in extrapolation, because of gamesmanship, brinkmanship and sheer, bloody luck.
These three last elements – in looking at the status quo of American politics – are what seemingly conspire to ensure that Obama is re-elected president come November 2012. Many Americans assume that Obama is just a good guy dealt an extremely bad hand of economic misfortune. The majority of American blames Bush II for the sour state of the economy. Most voters think that Obama, in juxtaposition to Mitt Romney his opponent, is a good decent family man.
Of course, Mr. Obama is buoyed by an efficient character assassination blitz media campaign against Mr. Romney [where the latter was painted as a cold, calculating risk averse capitalist who'd choose profit over compassion and employed Americans]. Either way, what seems to matter is that Mitt Romney has, to this day, failed to make the case that he’d be a better steward of the world’s largest economy. It does not matter that he has painted Obama as a failed president and neither does it seem to bother the general electorate that the unemployment rate is above 8 percent.
No American president has been able to win re-election with this many people out of work. Apparently, Obama is lucky enough to be immune to the anger that comes from the hungry.
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