May 25, 2010

Politics: The Viability of the Obama Lose-Win Scenario

Every conservative is eager to get to the November mid-term elections this year and stop the train-wreck that is the unbridled Democrat power trip. More importantly, we want to stop the runaway spending, the abject failure of foreign policy, the debt balloon, the pending taxation nightmare, the social decay, the illegal immigration failures and the environmentalist fear-mongering. Conservatives may have an unexpected ally in their desire to defeat House and Senate Democrats this fall - President Obama.

It sounds crazy at first blush but it really isn't all that far fetched if you think about it. The President's first year and a half have been abysmal. From his perspective, it's probably been a bad cycle to be President - an economic downturn, problems around the world, opposition at home. It's almost as if it were the Presidency of Bush, or Many other President's for that matter. But Obama really does seem as if he's in over his head, and his ideology is not saving him. So why would he want to make matters more complicated for himself? Plausible deniability. He wants to disown the problems America faces over the next few years, just like every single problem he's faced or caused has been the fault of someone else.

There are four possible outcomes for the remainder of the Obama Presidency, each has its own implications, but each gives Obama maneuvering room for his 2012 re-election bid.  President Obama would certainly prefer a liberal Democrat Congress, but Obama is about Obama and his Presidency supersedes the mere make-up of Congress.

Scenario 1
The GOP win control of the House and Senate (or enough of the Senate to make things virtually equal). Then in 2011 and 2012 the economy performs well.

This is probably the worst possible outcome for the President after this November. It would look as though for two years under Democrats the President was unable to make progress on jobs and was part of a hyper partisan, unresponsive liberal elite. But then, when Republicans took over the legislative branch of government suddenly things got better. 

But even in this scenario, things aren't too bad for the President. Don't forget, the President asked a bunch of Democrats to fall on their swords for him on health care, so he's not adverse to throwing them under the bus. The President is certainly capable of portraying himself as contrite over the liberal excesses of 2009 and 2010. And he's certainly capable of taking credit for the work of conservatives over the last two years of his term. He can also claim to be post-partisan for working with his opposition. He can claim to be fiscally responsible for signing bills drafted by Republicans. He can also revel in the fact that Republicans will have to slash and burn on spending to live up to their mandate to reign in mounting debt - either that or raise taxes. What a perfect campaign opportunity for him - an opportunity to blame the hardships on the other guys.

Scenario 2
The GOP win control of the House and Senate.  In 2011 and 2012 the economy performs poorly.

This outcome is a no-brainer win for the President.  His campaign in 2012 will look something like this: 
I understood your frustration in 2010.  Bush had ruined the economy and we didn't fix it fast enough.  But it was a big problem and before we made enough headway, you became impatient and voted in the GOP.  Well they went back to the same old Bush policies and look where it got us - we're still in trouble when a recovery should have taken hold two years ago.  We need to get more Democrats in Congress because the GOP obviously can't be trusted with the Presidency or with the Congress.
Sure, the President suffers short term losses in 2010 but it sets up for another liberal sweep in 2012.  This is especially important because the Democrats will have to play defense even more in 2012 than in 2010 in the Senate at least.  It's even more important, because it helps President Obama's re-election bid.

Scenario 3
The GOP remains in the minority in Congress and the Senate and the economy performs well.

This scenario helps the President too.  The Democrats can take credit for everything - the recovery can be used as a reason for having to run those debts.  In the eyes of the uninitiated and liberals everywhere it will validate Keynesian economics.  From a political standpoint, the President gains ground because the credit will be heaped upon him by the fawning mainstream media.  This is the best possible outcome for the president.  Conversely it is the least likely, simply because the economic outcome is let's say 50/50 and the GOP has a decent shot of winning at least in Congress and maybe even the Senate (though not as likely).

Scenario 4
The GOP remains in the minority in Congress and the Senate and the economy performs poorly.

This scenario is a big downside risk for President Obama.  If the economy is in bad shape, if the Democrats are forced to make tough fiscal decisions over the remaining two years of the Obama Presidency, the GOP wins in 2012 will be of epic proportions.  This is a scenario the President clearly will want to avoid.  It's a worst case scenario for him.

Controllable Versus Not Controllable 

Suppose you are President Obama and you want to win again in 2012.  Since your economic policies are based on rainbows and unicorns, there is no way to control the outcome of the economy.  It will either sink or swim outside of any of your actions.  In other words - the economy is not a controlled variable.  Even if they believed in their own economic fictions, the economy is always subject to outside influences and shocks. What is controllable, because you clearly are all about politics and political manipulation, is who wins seats in Congress this fall.  Take a look again at those four scenarios in the context of what you think you can control.

Scenario 1: Desirability 6. Likelihood 25%. Score - 1.5
Scenario 2: Desirability 8. Likelihood 25%. Score - 2
Scenario 3: Desirability 10. Likelihood 25%. Score - 2.5
Scenario 4: Desirability 0. Likelihood 25%. Score - 0

Controlling for the economy because you have no clue (remember, you're Obama in this scenario), Scenario 1 + Scenario 2 (where the GOP wins majorities) gives you a total score of 3.5.  Scenario 3 + Scenario 4 (GOP loses) gives you a total score of 2.5.  Therefore as President you are more likely to have a better outcome for yourself if the GOP wins this November (Scenario 1 or 2) than if Democrats hold the fort (Scenario 3 or 4).  Is it really shocking to think that for President Obama, a GOP victory might not be such a bad thing?  Is that too cynical?  I don't think so.  We're talking politics here, after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This