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April 13, 2012

It's Not 2008 Anymore: Seven Ways In Which 2012 Is Different

Nothing super-surprising, but something to keep in mind.

2012 will be a referendum, not a choice. One of the best established findings of contemporary political science is that in presidential contests involving an incumbent, the incumbent’s record is central to the public’s judgment. A race for an open Oval Office is about promises and personalities; a campaign for reelection is about the record and performance of the person currently occupying the White House. To be sure, Obama can offer his vision for the future and new proposals to flesh it out. But if the people don’t approve of his record, that won’t matter much.

No more promises of bipartisanship. Obama will have to abandon—or at least radically modify—the promise to heal a polarized political system that was at the heart of his rise to national prominence, starting with his dramatic address at the 2004 Democratic convention. And because his inability to foster this reconciliation has disappointed many people who voted for him in 2008, he’ll have to explain why he couldn’t do it in a way that redirects that disappointment toward the Republican Party and its nominee.

The most important one may be No More "Yes We Can." Obama ran in 2008, in his own words, as a "blank screen" upon which voters could "project" their hopes. He could be anything they wanted to be -- those who wanted a pragmatic problem-solver who was "post-partisan" could see that (and an impeccably creased trouser). Those who wanted a left-wing Black Hope could see that.

Well, he's not Everything to Everybody any longer. He has a record. He is not a pragmatic, post-partisan problem-solver. He is a stubborn and ignorant liberal with radical tendencies.

And he's failed. We are not faced with the interesting dilemma of policies that diminished freedom and the concept of America and yet, somehow, revved up the economy.

We're facing policies which diminished freedom, and America, and also led to the worst recession since the Great Depression.

That's not a hard call.


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posted by Ace at 01:53 PM

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