Saturday, April 21, 2012

For what it's worth...

Now that we know who the two major contenders in the Presidential election are -- with apologies to Newt Gingrich -- it's interesting to think of how the candidates will approach the election.

For one of the candidates, it strikes me as relatively easy. Mitt Romney starts off with the "I'm not Barack Obama" platform, which is good for 40 percent of the vote. There have been plenty of Republicans who have been waiting for the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November (in other words, election day) since November of 2008.

From there, Romney can certainly use the "Are you happy with the way things are going? argument. That's going to carry some weight. A majority of Americans feel we are on the wrong track, whatever that means. Tapping into that ought to be good for some votes.

Barack Obama's task is more difficult. That's usually the case with those who are actually in office. It's easier for the challenger to use hindsight and say, "Boy, was that a mistake! Here's what I would have done."

Add to the fact that the Obama Administration hasn't been too good at defending its record in areas that should prove popular. For example, no one believes that our health care system is delivering care efficiently right now, but somehow an alternative package was never sold to the public properly. (As in, is it really the best idea for the poor to go to the emergency room when they are sick and have their costs covered by states?)

So here's what I would do: I'd go back to 2008 -- not to blame President Bush for everything, but as a justification (if no doubt oversimplied, because this is a world of sound bites) for some of Obama's actions.

I'd argue that the Republicans had control of the White House under Bush, and did such things as cut down on regulation of the financial systems and the environment. What happened without adult supervision? The economy drove off a cliff. So what are the Republicans proposing now? Give us the keys to another car. That would seem to be pretty risky.

Obama also can highlight some of his accomplishments in that area. Did you really want a ruined financial system in the fall of 2008? No, so a rescue of some sort was necessary, as even the Bush Administration knew. Was letting the American auto industry go under in 2009 a good idea in our financial state? I would guess not.

Big budget deficits probably have been necessary under the circumstances, although the Obama Administration probably needs to be quicker in cutting back on that department down the road. I don't think the President needs a reminder on this, but killing Bin Laden and getting out of Iraq ought to be popular too.

I'm still making Obama the favorite in the election, but along the way we'll see how well the two sides stick to the scripts. And if anyone of authority is reading this, remember that you get what you pay for.

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