If hate and spite are all Obama has, he should resign

| July 16 2012
Christopher Cook

Well, that headline sounds awfully partisan, doesn’t it? As a committed, passionate, engaged anti-statist, I certainly am a partisan, so one should expect partisanship in my writing. Still, to call on one’s opponent to resign rather than seek reelection, just as the election season is starting to ramp up, sounds terribly craven at first blush. But, as Sherlock Holmes would say, consider the facts . . . 

Obama has nothing to run on. The economy has stagnated, mired in the midst of the worst “recovery” since the 1930s. His one signature domestic achievement is hated by a plurality, disliked by a majority, and has already been subjected to two full repeal votes and 31 partial repeal votes. The rest of his domestic agenda has been blocked, often by his own side. His budgets have failed to get a single vote in the House or the Senate. What few domestic agenda items he has managed to put through have been done by skirting Congress entirely, in violation of the co-equality of branches, using policy fiats from various agencies of the bureaucracy.

Obama’s one clear foreign policy win—the dispatching of Bin Laden—was executed by others using mission imperatives begun under his predecessor. The event has been marred by Obama’s narcissistic crowing to the point that it doesn’t impress people the way it might otherwise have done. The rest of his foreign policy choices have been questionable, or have produced ambiguous results. Nothing to hang his hat on there.

Vulnerable Democrats are avoiding Obama like the kid on the playground with cooties, and many of them are skipping the convention. His approval ratings are underwater and have been for a long, long time. His fundraising is struggling, and even with a one-year head start, there is a chance that Republican Mitt Romney may even overtake him entirely in the money race. Looking at his circumstances, it seems clear that Obama has two overall choices for his reelection bid: offer a new agenda for the second term or go relentlessly negative on Mitt Romney.

He has clearly made the latter choice.

Obama has spent millions attacking Mitt Romney, especially in swing states, and it hasn’t changed the dynamics of the race at all. As soon as Romney became the obvious presumptive Republican nominee, he moved into an almost immediate statistical tie with Obama, and that’s where things have been since. So far, his choice to go negative hasn’t helped him, and as Jennifer Rubin points out in the Washington Post Sunday, that has Team Obama in a bit of a panic.

When I first started reading Rubin’s piece, I was primarily interested in that panic. As someone who believes that the Obama administration has been singularly damaging, not only to the economy but to the health of our republic generally, I am always heartened by the notion that his reelection campaign may be in disarray. But this section of Rubin’s piece set me to thinking along a different line:

“The Obama team knew months ago that the economy would not sufficiently improve before Election Day to justify his reelection. Its polling showed simply blaming President George W. Bush wouldn’t be sufficient. The president and his political hacks concluded that it was too late and too risky to adopt a whole new second-term agenda. (It would risk offending either the base or centrists and reveal his first-term agenda to have been entirely inadequate.) So what to do?”

Try to put yourself in the position of the president. Your first term agenda was a failure. Whatever agenda you might put forward would disturb a large-enough swath of Americans that you would not be reelected. Your advisors come to you and tell you that your strategy needs to be one of fear-mongering and scorched earth. No positive plans for America’s future. No hope and change. Just sow hate and fear of Mitt Romney. Would you go for it? Would you do it?

I certainly would not. If I were president and my agenda had failed so spectacularly—and I was not willing to let the people in on my plans for a second term—I would not consider myself worthy of a second term. No politician should ever run without being willing to tell the people what he would do in office. Negative campaigning is a part of politics, and I am fine with that, but if negative campaigning is all you have, that is not enough. Any politician who in unwilling to tell you what he would do if office is unfit to be elected, or reelected, to that office. If Obama doesn’t have a plan—if he refuses to tell us what he’d do, and only has hate and fear to offer—then he should resign.

Of course, Obama does have plans for a second term, and though he is unwilling to tell you what they are, they should be pretty obvious to anyone who has been observing thus far. A reelected Obama would offer the same failed agenda of the first term—the same failed keynesianism, the same unprecedented end-runs around Congress—only bigger, more extreme, and even less concerned with outmoded notions like separation of powers or the co-equality of branches.

And if you thought that the first term was failed and marked by extremism and intransigence, imagine an Obama unbound from the need to face the electorate again.

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