Obama's paths not taken

Noemie Emery:
If President Obama loses next Tuesday, we will be tempted to point to two days that did it: Sept. 11, 2012, (riots in Cairo and elsewhere); and Oct. 3, (the first debate). But the real cause may lie in two paths not taken, in which unwise decisions led to bad outcomes.

The first came in January 2010, when Scott Brown, running as the 41st vote to finish Obamacare, won a special election to fill the seat of Ted Kennedy by an unexpected large margin in blue Massachusetts, which had gone overwhelmingly for the Democrats in 2008. This came after the off-year elections in Virginia and in New Jersey. These states, which also had gone for Obama, made large swings to install Republican governors, who campaigned against his ideas. Protests had dogged Democrats at town meetings, polls showed the public despised his proposals, and his approval ratings had fallen dramatically. He had two choices. One was to scale down his health care bill to a few proposals which could have won broad approval, try to win over some centrist Republicans, and have a small but real win he could take to the public. The other, which he chose, was to go big: ram the bill back through the House of Representatives, enrage the people already against him, and add to their number those made as angry by the procedure as others had been by the bill.

Obama went big. He won, but he shredded his party, put a huge head of wind behind his opponents, and now has a bill he can't cite in mixed company. He lost the House, lost independents, and may lose this election. He wanted too badly to be "historic." Sometimes "historic" describes a defeat.

The second path presented itself Sept. 12, the day after the attacks in Egypt and Libya, (two countries in which Obama 'led from behind' to liberate from their oppressors). Embassies were breached, flags burned, Obama himself burned in effigy in numerous places, and four Americans, one an ambassador, killed. After the Bay of Pigs, and the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon, Kennedy and Reagan accepted the blame, apologized to the country, and vowed to do better. Obama might have done well had he suspended campaigning, convened his advisers, and followed the lead of these presidents. Instead, he treated this as diversion from his real job of running for office, made a few remarks, and then hopped on a plane to Las Vegas, where he passed the night laughing it up with assorted celebrities.
Obama has had other occasions where he has also shown indifference to the voters.   He passed up a grand bargain on the debt crisis when he tried to retrade a deal he had cut with Boehner.  He may have been forced to do that by the execrable Harry Reid and the liberals in the Senate, but he should have had their votes in his pocket before cutting a deal.  By retrading, he lost credibility in any future negotiation.

When Scott Brown won, it was already clear that a majority of voters opposed his health care agenda.  What he did after that showed a disdain for voters that they now have an opportunity to return.  His handling of the Benghazi attacks is looking like something much worse.  It is reason alone for voters to reject him.


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