Obama and the Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations 1

By all historical measures, Obama should have no hope for re-election.

As we write this article, there's a great deal of argument over current polling methods.  Most of the headliner polls claim that Mr. Obama is significantly ahead of Mr. Romney; the Romney camp claims that these polls are bogus because they're intentionally oversampling Democrats, and that America is once again basically tied.

None of this really matters; there's only one poll that counts and that's on Election Day.  In a larger sense, though, one thing is obvious and agreed on by all: Mitt Romney is not crushing Barack Obama into the dust.

Why on earth not?  We have, after all, had more than a few presidents and presidential elections, and quite a number of them went badly.  Sitting back from the political fray and comparing Mr. Obama's actions to history reveals some stunning truths about the historic depth of his failures - and, if the polls bear even the slightest semblance of reality, his complete immunity from any blame for them.

How To Lose a War

In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson presided over a strong, successful economy, with high wages and low unemployment.  The 1960s are now looked back on, not least in popular television culture, as the peak of America's power, security, and strength.  By normal political standards, LBJ should have been a shoo-in for re-election.

Unfortunately, there was that war over in Vietnam.  The increasingly powerful far-left Democrats hated our involvement in the war; conservative Republicans were upset that Mr. Johnson refused to fight the war against international Communism whole-hog.  As a result, and combined with displeasure at the cost of his "Great Society" welfare programs, his approval ratings were well below half.

Then came the Tet Offensive.  Although it ended in a significant American military victory, it was reported back home as am American defeat.  Walter Cronkite famously told America that the Vietnam war was "unwinnable" and protests increased.

On March 31, 1968, Mr. Johnson went on national TV to announce he would not seek re-election.  This didn't mollify his enemies, even in his own party: the Secret Service refused to allow him to attend the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, which turned out to have been a good idea considering the violence that ensued.  The convention nominated Hubert Humphrey, who went on to get crushed by Richard Nixon.

Forests have been felled arguing over how LBJ should have handed the Vietnam War, but despite not taking a "total war" approach, he nevertheless did take the war seriously.  Mr. Johnson did believe in the "falling dominoes" theory that world communism had to be militarily defeated.  As he put it:

If we allow Vietnam to fall, tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week in San Francisco.

Contrast this with Barack Obama's handling of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The first war he condemned as misbegotten from his days as a candidate; is it any wonder he's fought it half-heartedly if at all?

Afghanistan is a slightly different case; Candidate Obama portrayed that as the "good war" or at least as necessary.  Yet almost from the beginning of his administration, Mr. Obama has set dates and deadlines for removing our troops no matter what's happening on the ground.

The result was foreseeable: The Afghanis who will be stuck in that hellhole after we're gone are all switching sides.  Hardly a week goes by without yet another "blue-on-green" attack where uniformed Afghani soldiers or policemen, supposedly our allies, shoot or blow up American soldiers.

Not dramatic enough for you?  How about the almost-unreported assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, where, according to the New York Times but buried in the backpages:

An audacious Taliban attack on a heavily fortified base in southern Afghanistan did far more damage than initially reported, destroying or severely damaging eight attack jets in the most destructive single strike on Western matériel in the 11-year war, military officials said Sunday... the attackers were able to penetrate the base, killing two Marines and causing more than $200 million in damage.

Actually it was worse than that.  One of the two dead Marines was a lieutenant colonel, making it more of an assassination; and the eight destroyed planes were literally irreplaceable and unique Harrier jump-jets.  To steal a phrase from Mr. Obama's friends, how many teachers and policemen could be bought with the $200 million that went up in smoke because we still don't take our Muslim enemies seriously?

Mr. Obama inherited two wars, one (Iraq) almost won and the other (Afghanistan) at least making progress.  He ends his term with our army leaving Afghanistan with its tail all but between its legs, and an Iraqi "ally" that's actually more an ally to our sworn enemy Iran.  And that's not even discussing the Arab "spring", which has seen us lose yet another ally (Egypt) and replaced a cowed dictator that was afraid of us with an al-Qaeda-run anarchy (Libya).

Yet something close to half of America still thinks Barack Obama deserves another four years - four years Jimmy Carter didn't get and four years which LBJ knew better than to even ask for.

In the next article in this series, we'll look at another striking contrast between Obama and his fellow presidents: the reaction to corruption.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

Historical measure?? Who cares about that! We live in the age of the 24 hour internet news cycle!!! No time to think about the past. The past is for old fogies and bigots. We have smartphones now!

October 6, 2012 9:55 AM

@Tin Tin:

Quite so. Sad that despite how fully connected and well-equipped people are, they are less informed than ever.

October 6, 2012 10:02 AM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...