Dan Middleton’s Political Punditry, September 18: Part 1 of a Two-Part Series

I have been taking note of the anxious tone of some whom I speak to as they contemplate the 2012 election. “Could Barack Obama really lose to Rick Perry? (which would be an unfathomable disaster) or Mitt Romney? (not much better, considering he will say anything and stand for nothing to curry favor in exchange for power. How desperate is he to impress the right wing? When asked who he would pick as a vice president, he cited Dick Cheney as a fine example, describing him as a man of “wisdom and judgement”).

I remain optimistic, though I admit on some days I fret, because as has been the case since President Obama took office, the roiling storm clouds lingering after the Era of Bush have given way to sporadic sunlight, but have failed to entirely disperse, with more clouds now gathering.
The darkest clouds are coming from Europe, where the 17 members of the Eurozone are in disarray about how to preserve the viability of the Euro currency and the European banking system. Eurozone members are nearing insolvency (Greece), suffering badly (Ireland), or on the verge of crisis, (Portugal, Spain, and Italy). A meeting on Friday in Poland did not go well, with the issues of how, how much, and when to give more money to Greece to prevent their default and exit from the Eurozone left undetermined, though we should know something by the middle of October. Does this matter to economic growth in the U.S.? While it is true that our banks are significantly less exposed to Eurozone debt than the French and German banks, a serious disruption of the European banking system would aggravate already non-existent European growth and high unemployment. In a global economy, no country is an island, and we all could ill-afford the trauma of another banking crisis like 2008, but with the potential to be much worse. So as you follow the news, keep on eye on Europe.
Friday’s comprehensive New Times/CBS News poll concurs with other polling, which provide a mixture of worry (President Obama disapproval number is high, and people are very pessimistic about the future) and hope (the President’s approval number is about 45%, which is not bad, all things considered, the GOP is very unpopular, and the Republican candidates for president are tepidly supported within their own party). Furthermore, in the hope department, one of the president’s top advisors, David Axlerod, put out this detailed memo showing Democratic support for the president remains very strong, particularly with Hispanics who decisively favor President Obama over Perry or Romney. This will be crucially important in Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado.
Since taking over the House, the Republican plan to unseat the president has been two-fold. First, render the Congress useless by blocking anything proposed by the president and the Democrats, thereby increasing cynicism and pessimism among the electorate, even if it meansincurring the wrath of the voters. This makes a well-liked president seem ineffectual in times of great hardship for some and considerable challenge for most, thus his job approval rating falls, and people lose hope, turn their backs on politics, and don’t vote. Because there are fewer Republicans than Democrats, suppressing turnout has always been a tactic used to gain power. Sadly, this first part of the strategy has been quite successful.
The second part of the strategy is simply to lie about the president’s record. Much to the disaster of humankind, Adolf Hitler was right when he said, “The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one.” Of course, I do not equate American politicians to Hitler. That would be a hyperbolic obscenity; however, the propaganda technique of telling the big lie repeatedly through Fox television and hundreds of talk radio stations featuring lying haters like Rush Limbaugh can make a difference. For example, the Recovery Act, known as the stimulus, didn’t work. This is nonsense. At its height, Recovery Act funds were supporting up to 3.6 million jobs. In June of this year, Recovery Act funding was still supporting up to 2.9 million jobs; it certainly prevented the country from slipping into a depression. The principle reason why our economy is stalling is the continued loss of public sector jobs at the state level as the stimulus money is running out, and Republican governors who cut taxes and spending which is economic lunacy in times of trouble. Yet, many people believe that the lie that the Recovery Act was a waste of money, because the economy is still struggling, forgetting that our economic collapse was far worse than anyone could know at the time.

So the GOP will just lie and lie and lie. “We know things are not getting better, but he made them worse.” It is the He made It Worse Strategy, which for very good reasons, will backfire. The president is no fool, and when he goes head to head with a Perry or Romney who will be trying the mendacious “you made it worse” claptrap, President Obama will ask voters to consider this list compiled by Steve Benen: among other things

American job creation is better now than when Bush left office.                                                                                                                     *American economic growth is better now than when Bush left office.


Al Qaeda is dramatically weaker now than when Bush left office.

* The American automotive industry is vastly stronger now than when Bush left office.

* The struggle for equality of the LGBT community is vastly better now than when Bush left office.

* The U.S. health care system is better and more accessible than when Bush left office.

* The federal budget deficit is better now than when Bush left office.

* The major Wall Street indexes and corporate profits are better now than when Bush left office.

International respect for the United States is better now than when Bush left office.

But will the President fight the lies, and present a compelling narrative for his ideas rather than only rely on facts? Yes. I’ll explain how tomorrow.

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