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Where’s the Love? Does Obama Have a Chance for 2012?

August 7, 2009

Poor President Barack Obama. He’s clearly bitten off more than he chew. Trying to ram through a huge healthcare bill (some 1,000 pages) by this fall, all the while dealing with a nasty recession, automotive bailouts, two wars in the Middle East, and the after effects of a financial meltdown, requires someone with superhuman powers. If he does eventually succeed in achieving his multiple goals, then he’ll join the ranks of people like Moses. Parting the Red Sea may not have been such a big deal after all.

Now that Congress is in recess for the month of August, hopefully cooler heads will prevail. House representatives will have a chance to speak to and, especially, listen to their constituents on healthcare reform, among others issues. There has been so much media hype on healthcare reform and distorted facts thrown around by both Democrats and Republicans that Americans need a break to make sense of the mess. The situation degenerated to the point where a Canadian woman, who had a bad experience in seeking medical care in Canada, became the poster girl for the Republican party. Now she is being vilified in her home country as being manipulated by U.S. politicians. This sounds similar to the fallout from the Henry Gates incident, in which some of those attached to it became collateral damage.

For President Obama, the risk is that he may join the ranks of Hilary Clinton when it comes to healthcare reform in America. ‘Hilary Care’ died a quick death and couldn’t be resuscitated. The opposing forces to President Obama’s healthcare bill are daunting. And what happens in the latter part of his term when the U.S. economy is still limping along (likely) and the country’s fiscal picture has deteriorated further?

The country’s debt will eventually cripple the U.S., and what people forget is the exponential nature in which it increases. Healthcare in America accounts for a whopping 16% of its GDP (in other Western countries it ranges between 8 and 12%). Canada got its wakeup call over 15 years ago when the IMF publicly stated its concern over that country’s fiscal state. Governments then, and since then, have diligently paid attention to controlling the country’s debt. America is not immune – remember the adage, the bigger they are…

President Obama’s re-election will become increasingly cloudy over the next year if he cannot demonstrate to Americans that his various plans and initiatives are working. Recall that President G.W. Bush was labeled a ‘certified one term president’ shortly after he was elected, and then 911 happened. With President Obama the reverse may hold: one could assume that he’s a certified two term president because of a) his popularity and more adaptable nature than Bush, and b) the mess that the Republican party is currently in. But the traditional you-know-what can hit the fan. What will be Obama’s downfall? Right now it looks like the debt problem, coupled with an eventual collapse of his healthcare initiative, will be his downfall. However, the growing insurgency in Afghanistan is increasing the pressure on his administration to send more troops. It is now being reported that tens of thousands of more U.S. troops will be needed to help stem the insurgency.

The Republicans may have the golden opportunity in 2012, provided they get their act together, jettison extreme right-wing thinking and reestablish themselves as a conservative party, and select a leader with broad appeal and who is perceived as a strong fiscal manager. Keep your eyes on Mitt Romney.

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