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Obama’s Steep Uphill Reelection Battle

Irrespective of the uninspiring slate of Republican presidential candidates, President Obama is facing a steep uphill reelection battle.

The predicament of Obama’s presidency was highlighted during its best possible week – following the May 2, 2011 elimination of Bin Laden – which produced a meager, soft a short-term bonus of 6%, bouncing Obama to 52% approval rating, before sliding down towards 40%.

From a 69% approval rating “coattail President” on inauguration day, January 20, 2009, Obama collapsed to a 43% “anchor-chained President” on November 13, 2011, according to Gallup. From 44%, Obama’s strong nucleus of support has shrunk to a meager 25%, while his strong nucleus of opposition has expanded from 14% to 40%, according to the “Rasmussen Report.”

Compared with the approval rating of recent US Presidents – during November of their third year in office – Obama is lagging behind, along with his role-model, one-term President, Jimmy Carter: G.W. Bush – 52%, Clinton – 53%, G.H. W. Bush – 55%, Reagan – 53%, Carter – 40%, Nixon – 49%, JFK – 58% and Eisenhower – 78%. In fact, President Obama’s numbers are more concerning than those of non-elected President Ford, who zoomed to 71% upon replacing the impeached President Nixon, crashed to 50% upon pardoning Nixon and deteriorated to 47% following the 1974 midterm election, remaining at 45%-50% until his defeat in the November 1976 election.

Notwithstanding Obama’s Nobel Prize for Peace and 63% approval rating on countering-terrorism, a victory in November 2012 depends, almost entirely, on his own domestic track record, rather than his Republican challenger’s track record. An Obama victory would require a dramatic alteration of the current economic and political landscape in the USA, or an “October Surprise.” Barring an exceptionally qualified, or disqualified, challenger, reelection campaigns are the incumbent president’s to win or to lose.

While the power of incumbency provided sufficient tailwind for the reelection of 21American presidents, the only three presidents who have lost a second term bid since 1932 were hindered by a series of failures and/or mishaps, not nearly as dramatic as those confronting Obama.

  1. H.W. Bush lost the 1992 reelection campaign, despite his glamorous foreign policy posture, the collapse of the USSR during his term and the astounding 88% approval rating following the 1991 Gulf War. He lost to Clinton, a largely unknown governor of a small state, because of an economic recession, 7% unemployment and $290BN deficit (4.7% of GDP), the broken pledge of “read my lips, no new taxes,” the effectiveness of “it’s the economy stupid,” the rising violence in inner cities and his well-known preference of international – over domestic – issues.

Jimmy Carter lost his 1980 reelection campaign to Reagan whose qualifications were in doubt. Carter lost, regardless of his image as a global peacemaker, due to an economic slowdown which was intensified by a global energy crisis, surging inflation and interest rates, and a general sense of national despair and pessimism, fueled by Carter’s own style and the humiliating hostage-taking of the US embassy staff in Teheran.

Gerald Ford lost the 1976 reelection campaign to “Jimmy Who?” (Carter), a semi-anonymous governor of a southern State. Ford lost in spite of ending the Vietnam War and advancing détente with the USSR and China. He lost due to his pardoning of Nixon, the adverse effects of the Nixon-caused national trauma, the depressed economy, high inflation and the chronic energy shortages.

Just like the three one-termers, during their fourth year, Obama has no lock on his reelection.

In 2008, candidate Obama ran as a centrist, and therefore carried the independent sector, which is the most critical voting bloc – about a third of the constituents. In 2008, he was supported by 62% of independents, compared with 39% in November, 2011. In 2008, Obama was supported by Collin Powell and other moderate Republicans, in 2011 he is perceived as a liberal, while most constituents are center and right-of-center. Self-identified conservatives outnumber liberals 2:1 and most Democrats are not liberal. In 2008, the turnout of young and Afro-American voters peaked as a result of peaked expectations. In 2011, the turnout is expected to diminish to the lower traditional levels, as a result of a peaked disappointment. In 2008, liberal constituents were charged with unprecedented enthusiasm. In 2011, Gallup documents the highest number of conservative voters since 1994, exceeding the number of moderates and twice as many as liberals. In 2008, 78% of American Jews voted for Obama. In 2011, there is a growing disenchantment among the Jewish electorate with Obama’s policy, in general, and policy toward Israel, in particular. The 2010 reapportionment has netted the “McCain States” twelve electorates, in addition to the pick-up of two electorates by Florida, which could switch-over to the Republican column, along with other “battleground” states such as Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Colorado, Nevada, Virginia and even New Jersey, where Obama’s popularity is plunging.

Most importantly, “it’s the economy stupid!” No American president has been reelected, since 1960, with unemployment above 7.2%, especially when experiencing a 9%+ inflation, a “U-shaped” economic meltdown, a paralyzing sense of uncertainty, a possible double-dip, a collapse of the housing market, a staggering price at the pump, high inflation rates, a shaky stock market, no real GDP growth, an all time high debt, which approaches GDP.

Democrats on Capitol Hill constitute an effective barometer of Obama’s electoral fortunes. They are increasingly reluctant to support his initiatives, since they are apprehensive about a possible reoccurrence of their 2010 midterm devastation, which was caused by the Obama-Effect.

Irrespective of the aforementioned steep hurdles on the path of Obama to reelection, he could still win reelection, provided that dramatic developments occur before November 2012.


The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb

Congress – the co-equal and systematic ally of Israel

Presidents propose and Congress disposes

On September 23, 2021, the US House of Representatives voted 420:9 to replenish the Israeli-developed defensive “Iron Dome” missiles, which are increasingly manufactured – and eventually exported – by the US defense company Raytheon, that benefits from the battle-tested “Israeli laboratory.”

The overwhelming vote reflects Congressional realization that the “Iron Dome”:

*Enhances Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is critical to the survival of all pro-US Arab regimes and minimization of regional instability;
*Reduces the need for full-scale Israeli wars on Palestinian and Islamic terrorism;
*Provides an alternative to Israeli military ground-operations against Palestinian terrorists, which would entail substantial Israeli and Palestinian fatalities;
*Represents joint US-Israel interests, militarily and technologically, in the face of mutual threats (e.g., Islamic terrorism) and mutual challenges (e.g., developing world-class, game-changing technologies).

*Constitutes another example of the systematic support by Congress of enhanced US-Israel cooperation.

The decisive role played by Congress in the replenishment of the “Iron Dome” underscores the cardinal rule of the US political system: The President proposes, but Congress disposes.

The involvement of Senators and House Representatives in foreign policy and national security-related issues has surged since the Vietnam War, Watergate and Iran Gate scandals, the dismantling of the USSR (which transformed the world from a bi-polar to a multi-polar) and rapidly-expanding globalization.

In fact, former Secretary of State, Jim Baker, complained about the growing congressional assertiveness in the area of foreign policy: “You can’t conduct foreign policy with 535 Secretaries of State….”  Former Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, criticized Congress for micromanaging the defense budget: dictating how much to spend on particular weapons, imposing detailed requirements and programmatic restrictions, venturing into policy-setting and requesting that the Department of Defense submits mountains of reports.

Congressional muscles 

The US Congress is the most powerful legislature in the world, and it has demonstrated its co-equal, co-determining muscle in the areas of foreign and defense policies on many occasions, such as:

*Imposing sanctions against foreign countries in defiance of Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump (e.g., Egypt – 2012, Iran – 1996-97 and 2013, Russia – 2017);
*Non-ratification of the 2015 JCPOA, which enabled withdrawal by the US;
*The 2009 non-closure of the Guantanamo Detention Camp was led by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV-D), in defiance of President Obama.
*The 2009 non-confirmation of Charles Freeman to the Director of National Intelligence was led by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D);
*The 1999 non-ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in defiance of President Clinton and the international community;
*The unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperation took place despite stiff opposition by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker;
*The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act overrode President Reagan’s veto;
*The 1984 Boland Amendment aborted President Reagan’s financial and military aid to anti-Communist elements in Nicaragua;
*The 1983 blocking of President Reagan’s attempted coup against the Surinam pro-Soviet regime;
*The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act mandated congressional authorization of surveillance of persons and organizations, which may threaten national security;
*The 1975/76 Tunney (CA-D) and Clark Amendments stopped financial and military covert support of the opposition to the pro-Soviet regime in Angola;
*The 1973 Church-Case Amendment ended funding of military involvement in Southeast Asia;
*The 1973 War Powers Act overrode President Nixon’s veto;
*The Jackson-Vanik Amendment preconditioned aid to Moscow upon free immigration.

Congress empowered by the Constitution

As documented in the aforementioned paragraphs, one is advised to note that while Congress is preoccupied with District and State issues, it has the power to both propose and dispose in the areas of foreign and defense policies.

The US Constitution aspires for a limited government and a non-monarchical president, and therefore does not limit Congress to overseeing the budget. It provides the Senate and the House of Representatives with the power to act on strategic issues and policy-setting.

The Constitution accords Congress ”the power of the purse,” oversight of government operations, ratification of treaties, confirmation of key appointments, declaration of war, funding of military operations and cooperation with foreign entities, creation and elimination of government agencies, imposing sanctions on foreign governments, etc.

In other words, the President is the “commander in-chief” within constraints, which are set by Congress.


The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb