Political Promise

Is the Obama Love-In Over?

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2010 at 9:07 pm

How did it come to this? A little over a year ago, Barack Obama rode the crest of a hope wave to win a remarkable electoral victory. Change was in the air and in the hearts of millions of people across the world. Now, fourteen hard months later, that dream has come down to earth with a bump. Iraq and Afghanistan continue to drain American blood and treasure, Copenhagen came and went with little climate change action to shout about, the world economy is no longer sinking around our ears but remains in the doldrums, American unemployment is stuck at 10%, 40 million Americans still lack affordable healthcare… I could go on, but I fear it might depress me too much. Chicago didn’t even get the Olympics, for goodness sake. With his approval ratings at just below 50%, Obama’s presidency was struck a new blow on Tuesday when the Republicans pulled off a shock electoral victory to win the vacant Senate seat in Massachusetts. This past year has proved that Obama does not possess magic dust, or a magic cure for American and global ills. Those who invested too much hope in him have been rightly punished for their naiveté. Political change is difficult, and the problems Mr Obama inherited are too serious and deep lying to be solved in a year.

Presidential popularity often wears off a little after the first year in power, as the lustre of freshness and change departs and cold reality sets in. However, political commentators, thanks to the Democratic loss in Massachusetts, have suddenly become more apocalyptic in their predictions for the future of the Obama presidency. Are they correct to do so?

Scott Brown - the newly-elected Republican senator in Massachusetts - in a seat held by Democrats since the first World War

First, a little background is needed. The Senate seat in Massachusetts was vacant because Ted Kennedy, the last surviving scion of American’s most famous political clan, sadly died of brain cancer earlier this year. Through Kennedy, the Democrats had held a stranglehold on the state for decades. In many ways, Massachusetts is the bluest of blue states, a haven of liberal, left wing politics in the United States. Something must have gone seriously wrong if the Republican challenger Scott Brown won the seat by a 100 000 vote margin. Something did go seriously wrong, but the blame lies less at Obama’s door than the media both here and in the US would have you think. The truth is the Democratic Party ran a terrible campaign in Massachusetts. Having held the seat for so long, they got complacent and failed to judge the anti-incumbent mood coursing through the country. Americans are angry at The Man, at Authority, be they Democrat or Republican, for failing to fix things quickly, for failing to care or pay attention to their problems. Just as in this country, confidence in the political class is at an all time low. So what did the Democrats do? They chose Martha Coakley, a soulless, personality free party hack. She had no relationship with normal voters in her state, and showed no wish to develop one. She refused to meet and greet her electorate outside Boston’s baseball ground because it would be too cold. She ran off to Washington to appear at a Party fundraiser just when the race was heating up, just when she should have been pounding the streets and pressing the flesh. She even spelled Massachusetts wrongly in some of her campaigns literature. This woman made Neil and Christine Hamilton look like geniuses of political campaigning.  Scott Brown won because he seemed like a normal human being who wore a hunting jacket and drove a pick up. He won because the voters were sick and tired of an arrogant, remote and incompetent Democratic Party machine who took them for granted. By some estimates, the presence of Coakley on the ticket reduced the Democratic vote by 15 points, which was easily enough to swing the result to Brown. Frustration with Obama certainly changed some voter’s minds, but not at the rate that Fox News and other Republican media outlets are gleefully trumpeting.  

Is Reform Possible in Today’s America?

Michael Watt

  1. As tragic as this is for Obama maybe maybe its a good thing that such a nepotisic seat went to someone other than a Kennedy!.. it was Ted Kennedy’s for 46 years, then before that it was JFKs then before that george kennedy!
    To be honest though i think Brown won because of that fully nude pic he posed for in cosmo after winning a sexiest man contest when he was younger…
    you couldnt make it up!

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