Walter Russell Mead, arguably the most astute blogger around, thinks that very current events will cause the president’s campaign to implode. I think it’s too early to tell.
Thanks for directing us to the post by Mead, who always has interesting things to say. It’s certainly a refreshing perspective on the state of the election, given the generally gloomy tone of most Republican election forecasters coming out of the conventions. Brian and dj and Pete are all right to wonder why so many Obama claims are passing by unchallenged by Romney, given his sizeable warchest. But Mead is also right to remind us that things are happening in the world which could be put to good use by the Romney campaign. It seems to me that Romney could only do better–how could it get much worse–at getting his foreign policy vision out to the voting public. We can hope that he’s taken some time to get up to speed on foreign affairs, gotten some good coaching, since the primaries. This might be the best moment Romney will have to call into question Obama’s claims of competence in foreign affairs. My great fear, and probably the great fear of many other voters out there, is that the GOP ticket is only talking about the weak economy because all it has to offer the American people is its budget wonkiness and a vision for how Americans can once more succeed in business. The constitutional executive is certainly more than a CEO. After the attacks of 9/11/12, Romney has once more been given an opportunity to show us that he’s more than just a suit and a family man, that he has what it takes to lead the country. What will Romney do? I share Peter’s uncertainty on this point. I can only hope he surprises me.
I would disagree to these events being a big deal so far, which I guess is only a little stronger than thinking it is too early to tell. Neither the events in the Middle East nor the strike in Chicago seem to have the capacity to change persuadables’ minds, at least not in their current form. People feel angered about the killings but do not feel a personal investment nor see the reaction to it as fundamental to who should be the next President. Chicago will have to get a lot worse, since it is hard to turn into a substantial, national, once again personal narrative to most voters. Especially in less than two months. The President would have to look excessively incompetent, which has yet to happen in any way obvious to the median voter.
“Bye, bye, Mr. Obama, I drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry” (dry because he had already given spent everything in the levy and borrowed more from the Russians and Chinese!) I don’t know if today’s events will derail the Obama train but, for my money, we should all pause and realize what another 4 years of Obama-malaise means for our economy. He should be following the ideas outlined in Forbes’s new book (www.facebook.com/freedommanifestoforbes) not making more pie in the sky promises for spending, spending, spending.
“them good ol’ boys were drinking whiskey and rye singing this i’ll be the day that I die: taxed to death!”
Short answer: no.
Slightly longer answer: I agree with Adam. I don’t see who switches their vote to Obama over the Chicago teacher’s strike. A former Obama staffer is going to the mat to take on a Democratic-leaning constituency in a municipality. It takes several ideological bank shots to turn this into a reason to vote for Obama (something like “I think these government unions are bad and even though an Obama guy is taking them on, they are still mostly participants in his coalition so…). The kind of person who came in with those ideological presuppositions is already a Romney voter.
The Libya thing might well matter as a sign of how things are going in North Africa. Heck, I dunno. But I do doubt that anyone is going to be won over by Romney’s “I won’t apologize” stuff. Obama has fairly favorable ratings on foreign policy and this isn’t going to change it. Romney also comes off especially oily when he talks foreign policy. Romney has a chance to win the argument on Medicare. More focus on foreign policy (as things stand) isn’t going to get it done. This isn’t to say that some obvious foreign policy disaster couldn’t sink Obama. We just haven’t seen it happen yet.
Obama’s snub of Netanyahu is more interesting. Mead has made the point in the past that pro-Israel organizations play a signaling role for pro-Israeli Americans of all (and no) faiths. Lots of Americans of lots of backgrounds want the US to be friendly to Israel and the posture of pro-Israel organizations helps steer their opinion of US policy toward Israel. The NRA performs a similar role with Second Amendment supporters. If the NRA approves of a regulation, fewer Second Amendment supporters will object. Obama’s snub of Netanyahu might mean that Obama is confident that he is likely to beat Romney anyway + he has enough cover from congressional Democrats + there is a general fear of war with Iran. So maybe he thinks he has a winning hand. Maybe he is wrong. If I were Netanyahu, I would remember that pro-Israel public opinion will have a lot less influence over Obama after November.
Pete is right on the snub of N–it’s also a signal to parts of the base and the world of what’s to come. Romney hasn’t done well obviously so far on the current f. p. crisis. So there’s more evidence than ever that the prez shouldn’t be reelected but it doesn’t seem to mke any difference. Romney is a terrible, terrible cand. on f. p.
With regard to the snub of Netanyahu, Obama is doing it because he genuinely wants to do it and almost all Jewish organizations (other than the Orthodox and AIPAC) are telling him that he can. The degree of hysterical, unreflective and defensive Obamania in the organized American Jewish community (including the non-Orthodox rabbinate) is frightening – for all our sakes, I’m glad my religious/ethnic group does not have the power attributed to it by the anti-Semites. The party line now is that Israel’s survival depends on Obama pushing through a forced 2-state solution (in which the Palestinians are not interested, and for which they will not negotiate). Based on this reasoning, a Jewish congressman from Memphis recently said publicly that Romney, because he will not force such a “solution” on Netanyahu, is a threat to Israel’s survival (as are, by his reasoning, the majority of Israeli voters). I have heard similar stuff from a Conservative rabbi in my family. This is essentially the position of the supposedly still “Zionist” leftist parties in Israel (post-Ehud Barak Labor, Meretz, and maybe Kadima, depending on what its leaders decide that it stands for this week).
I do not think the Israel issue makes much difference for the presidential election. At most, Obama will lose 10-15 % of the Jewish vote, meaning he might get as “little” as about 65% of the Jewish vote. I doubt very much that this is going to affect the outcome in any swing state (other than Florida and maybe PA, Jews are concentrated in safe Dem states). As for non-Jewish supporters of Israel, I strongly suspect that those who disagree with Obama’s Israel policies would vote against him for other reasons anyway.
As terrible as the events in Libya and Egypt are, I can’t see that Romney could have expected them to help his campaign with swing voters. I don’t fault him for criticizing the administration’s reflexive apology for a privately-made film when Islamists are assaulting our embassies, but I doubt very much that swing voters (or “persuadables” as Pete calls them) care very much about what’s going on in North Africa or about America maintaining its position of global leadership and standing up for democratic values. One very big reason the Republicans have the trouble with the voters they now do is that the previous administration, at the behest of many conservative intellectuals, obsessed over foreign policy while neglecting the country’s domestic problems, the explosion of which in recent years has been skillfully (but dishonestly) exploited by the Democrats. The bottom line: the Democrats seem to be much better at reaching American voters as they are now and will be (even more so) in the near future. Republicans, on the other hand, seem to be pretty good at reaching American voters as they were circa 1968-1988. ;-)
It is pretty sad when the hope for Romney is based on the mere hope that something will lead independents away from Obama. Not only is Romney a lousy candidate, the Republicans are obviously not ready to lead, since they cannot come up with anything better than they have for leadership. Maybe by 2016 they can get their act together and we will survive four more years of Obama.
I don’t think we will survive four more years of Obama when it is Obama unleashed to do what he will. If we can keep the House and turn the Senate, we will still have a heck of a situation on our hands because of Obama’s use of executive orders and because the Federal Reserve is run by Bernanke who seems to insist on digging a bigger hole for the American economy by “easing” it.
I didn’t have a problem with what Romney said on the mess in the Middle East.
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