Monday, March 12, 2012

The Grim Truth About the 2008 Election

This is an unhappy posting. But a necessary one.

With the GOP massive screw-up in this election cycle, too many people are assuming that Obama will win easily in November.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that Obama ALMOST LOST in 2008. Right up until the Mighty Crash that autumn, Obama was trailing McCain in the polls.

The irony is that the onset of the Great Recession handed the election to Obama in 2008 but may  cost him re-election this year. It handed him a virtually ungovernable situation: a country in financial melt-down and a Republican opposition in Congress with the express goal of making him a one-term president no matter the cost to the American people and the American economy.

As the Onion put it in November 2008: "Black Man Gets Worst Job In America."

In a very real sense, Obama did NOT defeat the GOP ticket in 2008. The economic collapse did. The GOP was doing fine in the polls in spite of Sarah Palin's obvious inadequacies, McCain obviously being too old to be president, and the dismal record of the GOP in the GW years.

Obama was losing despite his campaign's outstanding effort to register voters and then lock up their votes through early voting. He was losing in spite of the spirit-soaring spectacle of huge, adoring crowds at every campaign stop - the largest crowds in campaign history. He was losing despite a tremendous growth in Democratic party registration.

This is a sad and scary truth. But it has to be faced now. There's just enough good news in the job numbers and other economic indicators to lead us Dems to be pretty hopeful about November. There's just enough improvement in Obama's polling numbers to make us smile.

But it's not enough to make us confident. We had better reason to be confident in 2008 even before the economic collapse than we do now. Democratic registration was higher. New laws suppressing voting had not been enacted in almost 30 states as they now have. Obama's fund-raising was higher by this point in 2008. But even with these advantages we had in 2008, only the economic collapse mattered in the end, pushing a trailing Obama over the finish line first. It's hard to imagine a deus ex machina helping Obama this fall. The more likely scenario is that some devil ex machina will arrive: a big stumble in the economic recovery, an overseas downturn that drags down all boats with it, a something-awful-you-can-imagine-as-well-as-I-can.

And we mustn't kid ourselves. This country is quite capable of electing a vapid, shape-sifting idiot like Romney.

We have a mountain to climb. We must volunteer now, and we must contribute to the Obama campaign now. At stake is not only the presidency but the US Supreme Court. Plus war versus peace. (Think Iran.) A continued improvement in the economy or a return to discredited GOP economic policies. The environment. (Your failure to help Obama may cost a species its continued existence.) The rights of women and minorities. Regulation to protect everything from airline safety to the soundness of our banks. We know very well where the GOP is on these issues. We'd be insane not to work hard to get Obama re-elected.

Half the country is insane in it's racism and fundamentalism. If we don't work hard to help Obama, we are as crazy as they are.

"People get the government they deserve." So said Winston Churchill. It's a hard truth, but it's an absolute one.

P.S. No sooner had I posted this, than the latest ABC/Washington Post poll announced Romney has gained 4 points in recent weeks and is now leading Obama, while Santorum has picked up 5 points and trails Obama by only 3 points.


  1. True, Obama did not win by a landslide, by any means... but I simply do not know who to vote for now. Romney is the stereotypical Republican of the 2000s era (pro-big-business, pro-war).. and Obama has not shown himself to be much different.

    It's a lose-lose for Americans in 2012.

  2. I'm sorry, AGreenhill, but Obama IS absolutely different from Romney. Ombam's excellent accomplishments have not received adequate publicity, which I admit is partly his fault. He has, in fact, accomplished more than any president back to FDR. I know because I've been around since then. He has done this in spite of a GOP in Congress determined that nothing get done so that they can oust him in this election. You are too smart and too concerned to be taken in by this. Let me emphatically state that Obama did indeed save us from an economic meltdown that would have had us in bread lines, except there wouldn't have been any bread. He has persuaded the auto industry to enormously reduce CO2 and other pollutants. It's one of the greatest of all environmental achievements EVER, and I say this as a pioneer of the environmental movement. And he saved the American auto industry. He got us a health care act, something that has eluded every president since FDR. He's kept almost a million worthy people from being deported. He's helped working women get equal pay, ended don't ask/don't tell, got us out of Iraq and on our way out of Afghanistan. Well, I could go on and on. And I will in an upcoming blog closer to the election. Thanks for reminding me that there's a need to remind everybody (even I forget some of the stuff) about all the good stuff Obama has done. With your help, AGreenhill, he can do more. Help win the House back for the Democrats. Help us get a filibuster-proof Senate. Obama isn't the only one responsible for this country. He can't do what you want without YOUR help. And you obviously know the marked downside of a vote for Romney. The choice is clear, AGreenhill. Don't let your longing for perfection deny you and the rest of us a VERY GOOD president.
    P.S. How exactly has Obama disappointed you? I'd really like to now. Thanks.