Monday, August 02, 2010

Jimmy Carter -- Obama's Guide to a One-Term Presidency

Obama Is Going the Way of Carter

Monday, 02 Aug 2010

President Obama is heading for a one-term presidency like Jimmy Carter’s, Dave Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, tells Newsmax.

Liberal commentators like to cite downturns in support for Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan in their first terms as evidence that Obama could still gain re-election. But Keene points out a number of factors that are different in the case of Obama.

“Reagan came in during a recession, and by 1982, we were still in the middle of that,” Keene says. “We had high unemployment. We had inflation.” But, he says, “Even people who disagreed with Reagan in the polls at that time said that they had confidence in him.”

With Obama, “They don’t like what’s going on,” Keene says. “They think it’s wrong. They’re scared to death. Not scared of the unemployment, which is bad, but they are scared about the future.”

Keene is one of the country’s most astute political observers. The American Conservative Union, with 1 million members, runs the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington and publishes an annual "Rating of Congress," the gold standard for ideological assessments of members of Congress.

What concerns ordinary citizens is “runaway spending and whether the country is changing,” Keene says. “That is very different than just being concerned about the immediate economic environment.”

On top of those concerns, Obama is ideologically driven and will not change course toward a more moderate agenda, as did Clinton.

“He’s a true believer,” Keene says. “He an ideologue, and he’s going to try and get what he can get regardless of public opinion.”

While Obama’s approval ratings remains higher than approval of his policies, that’s because he is personally likeable, and people don’t like to admit to themselves they made a mistake in voting for him, Keene observes. “The last thing to go is approval ratings.”

When they do turn against a president, “It’s irreversible. And that’s what you are seeing among the independents, the real swing voters last time. They are now leaving him in droves.”

At the same time, Obama is losing support within his base and among Democrats in Congress.

“I don’t think that he has friends on the Hill,” Keene says. “He doesn’t get involved in all of that, and he doesn’t really care about them. They are there to pass his junk, and if they have to pay a price for that, that’s their problem, not his. You can understand why a lot of these Democratic House members are really upset saying, Didn’t we just walk the plank for you 16 times, and now you don’t even care.”

Keene says Republicans will regain a majority in the House, possibly by big margins.

“The Senate is a real long shot,” he says. “I would expect the Republicans to win five or six or seven seats, which is not bad.”

In the meantime, Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil disaster and other issues is “leading people to conclude that maybe this guy isn’t up to it,” Keene says. “When that happens, there’s really no way out because even if they like you, they are not going to keep you.”

As a result, Keene says, “Obama is on the verge of being an unelectable president like Jimmy Carter.”

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