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Obama pummeled from the Left and the Right

September, 2010

While holidaying in Maine this August, I managed to get in several rounds of golf. Since I was playing with strangers (except for two young students from Montreal), I took the opportunity to ask my fellow players how they felt about the current political situation in their country.

My first exchange stunned me. It was with a 40-year-old friendly chap whom I instinctively liked. I asked him what he thought about Obama. Like a sudden squall, his friendliness disappeared and his face darkened. “Obama,” he snapped. “I’ll tell you about Obama. He’s not a Christian, he’s not an American and his so-called election was illegitimate.”

Where do you go after a tirade like that? I quickly decided to keep my opinions to myself (I am still a big Obama supporter), stoically addressed my ball, and we continued our friendly game.

Sadly, my other encounters were no more fruitful. Every one of my erstwhile golfing friends in Maine said the economy was going to hell in a handbasket and that the crooks in Washington should be thrown out this November (presumably, although I didn’t say so out loud, to be replaced by another set of crooks).

I drew two conclusions from my golfing holiday in Maine: there is a great deal of genuine anger permeating the American electorate and a disproportionate amount of that anger is adhering to President Obama himself.

It is ironic, not to say unfair, that Obama is being pummelled from two sides, the Liberals and the Republicans. Other than saying no to all of Obama’s proposals, the GOP has no policies of its own except to cut taxes for the rich and reduce services to the poor.

What’s more the Republican party is being taken over by the extremists in its ranks, also known as the Tea Party. The tea-parties embody an attitude rather than a movement. They distrust all elites (including some in their own Republican party), they want smaller government and bigger defense and, when push comes to shove, they don’t believe a black man should be in the White House.

Let’s not beat around the bush here. A deep-seated racism runs through the Tea Party like a plague through a cornfield. Remember one of the heroes of the Tea Party is Glen Beck, the chief bomb-thrower at Fox News. Beck has said publicly, more than once, that Obama is a racist and he intensely dislikes white people. Well, the people in the all-white Tea Party intensely dislike Obama and they exhibit this by drawing a Hitler moustache on the President at their rallies.

In addition to Beck, the other big hero for the Tea Party is Sarah Palin who will have considerable influence on the elections this coming November. Palin is going around the country expending her considerable political capital by endorsing Tea Party candidates for the elections. When it comes to policy and which papers she reads, Sarah Palin makes George Bush look like a Rhodes scholar.

But when it comes to political muscle, Palin has lots and she is flexing it on behalf of the Tea Party. Fortunately for the Democrats some of the candidates put forward by the Tea Party are real nutters and will almost certainly lose in November. Take the case of the Democratic leader in the senate, Harry Reid, running for his senate seat in Nevada. Up till a few weeks ago, Reid was well behind. Then the Tea Party and Sarah Palin backed a woman for the GOP who wants to abolish the department of education, privatize Social Security and beef up the Pentagon. Now Reid is comfortably ahead.

So much for the Tea Party and the right wingers. President Obama is also besieged by the far left of his own party. Now you would think that left wing democrats would be as happy as clowns at a circuis. After all Obama passed the most comprehensive health care bill in a hundred years, adding 30 million people to the insurance rolls. He passed the toughest regulations on big business since the Great Depression. And he engineered the biggest job-stimulus bill ever.

But none of this seems enough for the Left. They argue that Obama caved on the Public health care option; that he has failed to regularize the situation of gays in the military; that the prison in Guantanomo Bay is still open and that the war in Afghanistan is getting worse.

So the president is caught in the midst of these warring factions. To the right he advocates big government and big spending and is very likely a closet socialist. To the left Obama has not used his congressional majorities to pass the liberal agenda they voted for in the first place.

And clouding all these calculations is the job picture. Almost 90 percent of Americans are not looking for jobs. But the 10 per cent who are constitute a political albatross dragging Obama and the democrats down in the polls. With the November elections now less than two months away, there is no question the tide of anti-incumbency is with the Republicans.

In fact, in off-year elections (where the presidency is not on the ballot), the party in power always loses seats. Some pundits are predicting a historic wipe-out. I think the democrats will lose seats in the Senate but not their majority. However, the Republicans might take the House of Representatives, in which case Nancy Pelosi would lose her job as speaker.

Other pundits are saying that Obama will be defeated in 2012 or that he will not even run for a second term. That is ludicrous. The fact is the Republican Party is even more unpopular than are the Democrats. And possible GOP candidates like Newt Gingrich or Sarah Palin will not intimidate Obama.

Furthermore I expect the president will make a major change in the democratic ticket for 2012.

Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden will change jobs. Obama-Clinton looks to me like a winning ticket.



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