Monday, November 21, 2011

"Dump Obama"- Sounds Crazy...Like a Fox?

Firstly, I have to admit that when someone first suggested this idea of "dumping" President Obama by the Democratic party, I was very skeptical that such an effort would do anything but give the GOP a green light to the White House next year (seems a little unsporting to me). This was mainly because the original idea being pushed by many (prominently Senator Bernie Sanders) was getting a Democrat to run against Obama in a primary. To me, as a student of history, the idea of a incumbent being challenged by his own party just sounded a plan for disaster for Democrats.

For one, there are few if any prominent enough Democrats to even pose a real threat to the President in the first place (making such a primary challenge a real waste of time) whose only real accomplishment could be to force the President to make new promises to his liberal base...Promises he can easily break after his re-election since he will no longer need their votes (as all 'good' politicians do). So what would be the point? And what would it accomplish?

So after arguing with several people on Twitter about this (who rather rudely called me an "Obamapoligist"), I figured any talk of "dumping" President Obama was just a crazy idea cooked up by some grumpy liberals...But it appears these folks may have the last laugh after all.

Because today, not one but TWO articles were published that called for the same thing: President Obama to NOT run for re-election and put Hillary Clinton in play or at least replace Biden for Clinton on the VP ticket.

The two articles in question are "The Hillary Moment" by Democratic pollsters Patrick Caddell & Douglas E. Schoen for the Wall Street Journal (1), and "The "Dump Obama' movement has begun; Guess who'd replace him?" by Andrew Malcom (2). Mr. Malcom's piece was written in response to Caddell and Schoen's so I will focus on the points they made and only note that Mr. Malcom seems to have enjoyed writing his response a little too much..

In "The Hillary Moment", the authors make a pretty fair argument for President Obama deciding not to run for re-election and instead have his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton run in his place:

1. Precedent- IF Obama decided to step aside, it would hardly be the first time. Harry Truman (one of my personal favorites Presidents mind you) knew that even though he managed to win his own term in 1948, he did so just barely and come 1952 he was not likely to be able to full off that trick twice (though one does wonder if he hadn't stepped aside if Ike would have run against his former boss). LBJ too realised that his actions in the Vietnam War would make it very difficult to win another term and decided it would be best for his party if he chose instead to not run again.

2. Ready Replacement- UNLIKE Truman and LBJ, President Obama has a strong possible replacement on the Democratic ticket who has enough political experience to have a good chance of defeating the eventual GOP candidate (cough Romney cough) on her own right.

3. Clean Slate- In theory, since Clinton has been busy running the State Department (quite well according to most polls of Americans), she won't have to deal with President Obama's failures as president (especially his economic ones since she had no say in such decisions/policies), making for a "nicer" presidential campaign than the overly negative one most political wonks currently predict.

4. Doing the Honorable Thing- In theory, if President Obama decides not to run for re-election, that could give him more leverage in negotiating with Republicans over fiscal matters since his job is not longer in 'danger' and perhaps his decision could inspire Republicans to play ball.

I however have a lot of problems with this seemingly logic reasons for President Obama stepping aside for 2012.

1. While Obama wouldn't be the first to choose this path of political suicide, there is one other glaring similarity with Truman and LBJ's decisions: Their stepping aside didn't stop the GOP from coming out on top in the Presidential rat race. So is it best for the nation? Maybe, but history certainly doesn't invoke confidence if the Democrats want to win.

2. I actually have no problem with the idea that Hillary Clinton would be the ideal replacement for President Obama on the Democratic ticket, because no one else could even remotely pull off such a huge gamble.

3. I think the guys at WSJ are a bit delusional if they think the GOP won't dump all of President Obama's political baggage on Clinton's head should she decide to run in Obama's place. She may have had a good record working on the State Department but as far as the GOP is concerned, Clinton and Obama could be interchangeable (and that's exactly what they will tell prospective voters come election time).

4. Doing the honorable thing is nice and very refreshing in politics and I have no problems with that.

Personally, if President Obama decided not to run for re-election today or early next year (hint hint), I would be among the first to applaud him since overall it would probably result is at least some healing in politics. And I agree with the authors that to win, President Obama will either need a miracle, or have to run a rather nasty campaign. The later will only deepen the political divide that currently exists in Washington and while such a divide will never fully disappear..The last thing we need right now is that gridlock to get any worse (as the Super Committee's admission of failure proves). Do I think Clinton running will end that gridlock? Probably not, but I think it's possible it could be moved in the right direction regardless of who wins in the end.

So what sounded like a crazy idea to me a few weeks is starting to make some sense..I'll admit it. But will this movement to 'Dump Obama' really catch on? Only time will tell..


The views expressed in the above work are solely those of the author and not of the Modern Whig Party or any other political organization.




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