A Rasmussen poll published on August 31 reveals that only 19 percent of Americans strongly approve of the way Barack Obama is performing as president, while 44 percent strongly disapprove. The president now trails by 8 percentage points a generic republican in that same poll. It has dawned on most Americans that the emperor has no clothes, that Barack Obama is not a true leader and that the course he has charted is costly and destructive to America.
The president now appears to be in a political free fall. He even looks the part, bearing an expression oftentimes that reveals a budding fear and apprehension just beneath the surface. It may have occurred to him that he missed his opportunity to be presidential and that platitudes in the midst of a crisis demanding results simply will not do for most Americans.
Certain failings Americans tolerate in their presidents but none that reveal an essential failure to lead in a crisis. There is nothing worse for a president than a loss of public confidence in his ability to lead the nation when it is in trouble. Americans demand that their presidents lead. When a crisis arises and the president refuses to lead, the essential trust that Americans who voted for the president placed in him is irreparably damaged. That is Obama’s incontrovertible problem. Faced with the greatest economic crisis in American history, the one that threatens to drown the nation in debt, he failed to present a specific plan to return America to solvency. He abdicated governance. Worse, he offends American intelligence by paternalistically proclaiming himself the answer despite failed Keynesian stimulus policies that have added over 4 trillion to the nation’s indebtedness.
The environment is now wholly inhospitable to his re-election, and the economic factors bode ill for an upturn in the economy before the 2012 election. Although congressional prognosticators predict a slight upturn in employment by the election, to somewhere around 8 percent, that appears far too rosey a prediction given the fragility of the entire marketplace. Rather, it may well be that unemployment tops 10 percent by the election; that restrictive lending practices will have prevented emerging small and medium sized businesses from enjoying significant growth, and more sectors will have succumbed as revenues needed for survival drop below survivable levels.
Because the President has taken no steps to cut spending dramatically and has lost vital time to implement a plan capable of turning the markets around, he is in no position to affect a change in the basic market dynamics between now and the election. The continuing decline of the economy presents a very real risk of a depression. Consequently, Obama’s free fall will likely continue. He will likely experience an even greater loss in popularity.
At the same time, the intellectual opposition arising from Congressman Ron Paul, influencing the positions of almost all Republican candidates, is now establishing itself as the only realistic alternative to Obama’s failed policies. Increasingly, Congressman Paul’s unwavering commitment to restoration of the Founding Father’s republic, elimination of government beyond that enumerated in Article I of the Constitution, divestiture of the nation from entitlements no longer affordable, elimination of the federal reserve, and elimination of the income tax is gaining favor among a majority of Americans.
A basic truism is at work. A politician who stakes his all on the promise that government will provide appears weak and bankrupt of ideas when all can readily see that government provision is the very source of the problem. When government spending becomes economically infeasible, when the nation itself is on the brink of economic collapse, there is no viable alternative to significant spending cuts.
For a politician whose core constituency is comprised of groups knit together by one common thread (a desire to be included in the government’s largesse), the new economic reality is an insurmountable political problem. That is precisely where Barack Obama and the Democratic majority in the Senate now stand.
Mindful that reason can give way to passion in politics and rule out every rational expectation, it appears likely that President Obama will lose if forced to defend his spending record and if confronted by an intelligent opponent with a clear plan to balance the budget and pay down the national debt. This election the ultimate Republican candidate has only him or herself to blame if Obama wins because a challenger who displays calm determined leadership, who is free of gross character defects or skeletons in the closet, and who commits fully to a clear plan of significant spending cuts and entitlement reforms will likely prevail over a President who has failed to lead in America’s greatest economic crisis and has disserved the trust of those who voted him into office.