Just two years ago, Barack Obama swept into office on an unprecedented wave of optimism. The savior had arrived, and the country would be put back on track.
Realistically, no one could live up to these expectations. Some felt that he was set up to take a fall, and be the scapegoat for all the nation’s ills. He may not have fallen yet, but who can doubt that his presidency is on the ropes. His popularity is plummeting, and the mid-term results cast serious doubts on his ability to win a second term in office.
What happened to all the hopes and dreams that lead to his victory in 2008? The simple answer is lack of political savvy. The President seems to have a natural talent for doing and saying things without any insight into the political consequences.
Recently he made the rather astounding statement that he had underestimated the political consequences of health care reform. Did he seriously believe that those with a vested interest in the system would just forget about billions in profits, roll over and play dead? Could he really have thought that the right-wingers would suddenly decide that socialism is a great idea, and we should give it a chance? If he didn’t see this political storm coming, he is one of the most naive men to make it to the top office.
It is interesting that as Barack Obama’s popularity decreases, the belief that he is Muslim increases. Since taking office, he has made it his mission to improve relations with the Islamic world. This may be a worthy goal, but his unending praise of Islam, and his seeming ambivalence towards Christianity, can’t help but arouse negative feelings at a time when radical Muslims are a major threat to national security. In a country that still sees strong Christian values as important to leadership, any belief that the President may be Muslim (20% of Americans already think he is) will lessen his chances in 2012. If he is aware of this, he chooses to ignore the risk.
Perhaps the greatest indication that Mr. Obama is in real political trouble, is the rising credibility of Sarah Palin. In 2008 she was a major embarrassment for the Republicans. Today she is a serious threat to the President’s future. Is it likely that she would be a real contender if we had a strong and popular leader in the White House? Her true appeal is that she is the polar opposite of the President. She is a right-wing, fundamentalist Christian, in contrast to Barack Obama’s socialist leanings, and Islamic sympathies. Rather than laying the groundwork for re-election by attacking Sarah Palin, he refuses to see her as a threat.
Barack Obama is determined to stick to his guns, and show himself to be a man of principle, no matter what the political fall-out. This may well be his undoing. Politics and principles are a lethal mix.