National Commentary

Obama Shine Dulled in Re-Election Bid

President Obama is seeking re-election, so what else is new. And why not?

President Obama is seeking re-election, so what else is new. And why not?

Unlike other presidents, he has not complained about the job – the highest office in the land – and is ready to go again.

His formal announcement for another term was so low key that it landed on page 14 in the New York Times. And he did not appear on his own video telling the world he is again a candidate. But mostly his early announcement for 2012 is all about money – an estimated $1 billion to get his re-election show on the road, compared to the $750 million he spent on his first campaign for President.

Obama is counting on deep-pocket donors this time around. In 2008, he wooed the less affluent who were eager to kick in for the big “change” and “hope” Obama was offering. The nation was ready and willing to have its first black president. Some of the Obama shine has rubbed off. Disillusionment and disappointment has set in since those glory days.

Of course to give Obama his due, there is no such thing as an instant president – unless you are Lyndon B. Johnson, who had set his sights on the presidency since his boyhood. LBJ was prepared to step into the most powerful office in the land when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Johnson had been a Texas congressman, senator, senate majority leader and Vice President. He was the “can-do” man and moved the mountain to push for his “Great Society,” a boon to the nation. He knew where all the bodies were buried, and every man’s price on Capitol Hill.

As a result, and on the tail wind of a grief-stricken nation, during his first two years in office, Johnson rammed through Congress Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, voting rights for blacks in the South, funding aid to education, and public housing.

Obama had no set grandiose domestic agenda. He promised “change,” but has disappointed loyalists for closely adhering to his predecessor George W. Bush’s foreign policy.

He has continued the two Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, at a time when the Arab world is waking up to fight for democracy. He had one chance to get out of Iraq the day after he took office. The country would have been grateful. So many lives would have been saved. And so many billions of dollars would have been available to care for Americans’ other needs. Obama had said he would wrap up the war in Iraq fully, but he kept escalating the departure date. Now it has moved to 2014, and Iraqis are still bombing when they get the chance.

I have been asked so often, “How can we get out?” I reply, “How did we get in?”

Obama has disappointed many of his supporters who expected a big change from the policies of Republican President Bush. Instead they wondered, where is the change?

Obama did get Congress to pass his health care law, which the Republicans are now trying to tear apart. But he mostly appeased the bankers and continued Bush’s biggest tax cuts for the richest people.

To reduce the deficit, Obama should have urged a tax increase for the millionaires and billionaires, but not when you have your hand out for donations, and not when you are seeking a second term. These are the facts of life.

Therefore, the very rich in this country are doing just fine, while the poor are another story. The hard strapped, who are legion, are simply trying to make ends meet.

Meantime, the Republican governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana are trying to make up for needed revenue by destroying unions, and wiping out collective bargaining for public sector workers. They obviously felt free to undercut the working man and woman – but not the rich bankers.

At some point Obama is going to have to stop appeasing the very rich, the oligarchs who were denounced by Theodore Roosevelt.

The newly empowered GOP is trying to pick apart Medicaid and Medicare as well. Who are these people? Who do they represent? Obviously not the poor and the sick. To solve the deficit problem Obama should have raised taxes on the billionaires, and the very rich. Sorry, not in an election year.

Republicans have to decide on one candidate from an array of hopefuls, including two woman – Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. It’s hard to believe former Republican Newt Gingrich is seeking the nomination, but he is back in the race again. The only GOP member who has created an exploration committee is former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Obama has a tough road ahead. He has to restore the glow he had when he first ran for the presidency, and prove to the American people he deserves a second term.