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HOUSE OF THE WEEK

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Analysis: President Obama Vs Mitt Romney



One of the most irrelevant and politically effective questions asked by challenging politicians is bandied about again this year: "Are you better off than four years ago?"
Ronald Reagan made hay with that query during his 1980 campaign against incumbent Jimmy Carter. Mitt Romney and his Republican colleagues are using the tactic again this year against a latter-day set of Democratic incumbents.
This ploy always works to a degree when the economy is struggling. Quite a few voters are bound to say "yes" without thinking whether their answer would be the same if the other side were in office.
Whether a given constituent feels better or worse is an individual attitude that can't accurately be linked to broad official economic policies. Some might remain economically irritated even as the economy improves, perhaps at a rate faster than would be the case under the challengers' policies. Some might be optimistic despite lagging economic indicators because they see improvement on the horizon.
The point here is not to choose sides but to allege the paucity of the question and its answers — except as a campaign ploy.
Voters will react with general attitudes and expectations about the candidates and, this year more than most, their party philosophies. In 2012 the party platforms are more polarized than any time in my memory, and Republican candidates, in particular, are trapped in their harsh pronouncements.
So, as you might have discerned by now, I will vote for Barack Obama for another term, largely in opposition to Republicanism and Romney-ism.
In fact, Mitt Romney would be an appealing candidate but for his discouraging fealty to his party's right wing, which almost no Republican candidate these days can escape. Obama has been a disappointment to many because he and his followers promised and expected too much, but it was inevitable. 
In 2007 and 2008, any campaign challenging the incumbent would promise change, and Obama's personality was bound to produce an emotional appeal. A winning Democrat back then had to promise hope and change. So it would have been had the tables been turned.
No person who would have taken the office then could suddenly turn the economy around. Obama & Co. did make bold moves with stimulus and bailout, and I think on balance they were the right policies, as did most Republicans when they were launched in the final days of the Bush administration. Looking back, it's easy for those without responsibility to criticize, a contingent I joined from time to time.
Then Obama became even bolder with his health care initiative, which, in my view, will go down as one of the most important watershed moments of civic gain in our history. Getting started was a monumental achievement. Developing the program will take forever and is postponed so long as Republicans en masse promise only obstruction and repeal. To defeat this notion is one of the most important reasons to support Obama this year.
The contrast between Obama and the hapless Romney on health care and women's reproductive rights is enough to send me toward Democrats, but the economic plans of Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan, are not more promising than the incumbent's. The stonewall tactic of the GOP on tax increases is enough to earn disdain. The debt and deficit they properly worry about won't be attacked effectively without both revenue increases and spending savings — and to think revenue can be increased at the same time taxes are reduced is folly.
Better off than four years ago? Depends on many factors beyond the reach of politicians in Washington regardless of party. Crafting the best way forward? The broad center where best answers lie belongs to the Democrats.
Obama for President.
History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all other alternatives.
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Edited By Cen Fox Post Team
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