September 15, 2009

Obama - Losing Ugly

In football or any other sport, you want to win.  But you don't want to win because of a fluke injury to a key player on the other team.  Not only does it consist of benefiting from the misfortune of others, but it also tarnishes the victory - you didn't beat their best, you beat a diminished team.  Maybe you couldn't have really beaten them.  Using the analogy of politics as sport, President Obama might be that injured opponent, and the Republicans appear to be capitalizing on that.  But there's a couple of problems with the analogy.  Firstly, politics is a lot uglier than sports and sportsmanship doesn't win you any trophies in politics.  Secondly, and more importantly, President Obama doesn't fit the injured opponent as much as he fits the image of the opponent not knowing what plays to call and throwing a lot of interceptions for the GOP to capitalize on. The President, after a great opening drive, has started losing, and losing ugly. At this point the GOP would probably be happy with any sort of win.  But Obama isn't losing because of an injury, he's just losing due to poor performance.  In other words, he's losing ugly.
Can you tell I'm happy football season is under way?
In Politico today, Jeremy Lott makes the case that President Obama is likely going to lose on his three big agenda items so far; Cap & Trade, the Employee Free Choice Act, and health care reform. After winning on the stimulus bill and the omnibus bill early on, the 'game looked like a lopsided victory was underway for the Democrats.  They had a deeper bench (the 77 seat majority in the House and th filibuster-proof majority in the Senate).  The managed to take the football and score an opening drive touchdown.
The Republicans, still on defence nearly stalled the Cap & Trade drive, and now in field goal range, the plan seems stalled in the Senate.  They might not even be able to settle for the field goal.  But it has been the other big drive, health care is where the interceptions have started to occur.  That might be something that affects everything else, like the Employee Free Choice Act.  And that's where we might see two different aspects to Obama losing ugly.
Think of 2010 as halftime, and consider that the game clock is really running down.  It's going to be ugly for teh Democrats if those three drives fail.  That will represent a full scale failure in the eyes of Democrats and the eyes of President Obama himself.  But the other aspect is that you might start to see President Obama start getting ugly in his behavior.  If the Republicans have become accustomed to Obama decrying demagogary and being a demogogue about it now, imagine how bitter he could become and how ugly it could get if he doesn't score.  He seems to take these failures poorly already.
But losing ugly could turn into losing REALLY ugly, if a double dip recession materializes.  That's just what many people see happening. According to the Financial Times of London, there is good reason to be, if not pessimistic, at least realistic about the possibility;
“Are we going into a W[-shaped recession]? Almost certainly. Are we going into an L? I would not be in the slightest bit surprised,” he said, referring to the risks of a so-called double-dip recession or a protracted stagnation like Japan suffered in the 1990s.

“The only thing that would really surprise me is a rapid and sustainable recovery from the position we’re in.”

The comments from Mr White, who ran the economic department at the central banks’ bank from 1995 to 2008, carry weight because he was one of the few senior figures to predict the financial crisis in the years before it struck.
On Monday Mr White questioned how sustainable the signs of life in the global economy would prove to be once governments and central banks started to withdraw their unprecedented stimulus measures. “The green shoots are certainly out there – the question is what kind of fertiliser is being used on them,” he said.
Indeed, losing ugly for President Obama if that double dip hits, could very well mean a 50-70 seat swing in the Congress at halftime (2010), and a few seats in the Senate to boot.  If that' how the game progresses, there's a very real probability that Obama loses the complete game in 2012.

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