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Opinion

Opinion

Iran threat could help Obama

October 31, 2010

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— When the midterm election cycle began, the prevailing opinion was that Barack Obama was cleverer and more inspirational than anyone else on the scene. As it ends, nothing appears to have changed.

OH, YES, I know that Democrats have fallen into a peck of trouble and may lose control of Congress. But even if they do, Obama can still storm back to win a second term in 2012. He is that much better than the competition.

In what respects is he enduringly superior? Let’s start with the basics. He is much smarter than his challengers in either party, better able to read the evidence and come to the right conclusions.

Over time, his conclusions are likely to stand scrutiny better than those of other politicians. The crucial case in point is his analysis of economic forces. No one would pretend that this is anything but a daunting situation. The nation is suffering simultaneously from high and persistent unemployment, lagging investment, massive public and private debt and a highly inefficient tax system.

The steps that have been ordered so far in Washington have done nothing more than put the brakes on the runaway decline. They have not spurred new growth.

But if Obama cannot spur that growth between now and 2012, he is unlikely to be re-elected. The lingering effects of the recession that accompanied him to the White House will likely doom him.

Can Obama harness the forces that might spur new growth? This is the key question for the next two years.

What are those forces? Essentially, there are two. One is the power of the business cycle, the tidal force that throughout our history has dictated when the economy expands and when it contracts. Economists struggle to analyze this, but they almost inevitably conclude that it cannot be rushed and almost resists political command. As the old saying goes, the market will go where it is going to go.

In this regard, Obama has no advantage over any other pol. Even in analyzing the tidal force correctly, he cannot control it.

What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy.

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise, and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

The nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.

— David Broder is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group. davidbroder@washpost.com

Comments

cato_the_elder 4 years, 1 month ago

Having given up on 2010 already, Broder is now looking ahead to 2012. Broder again misses the boat, however, in stating that Obama is "much smarter than his challengers in either party." To say that Obama is "much smarter" than Hillary Clinton, for example, is ridiculous. Obama has conclusively shown that while he may be book smart, he is seriously challenged when it comes to basic common sense and has had no meaningful career experiences as an adult outside of community activism and academia. His experience in the business world is zero. A large number of Americans have awakened to this. It's also clear that Obama is not very quick intellectually in any event. He's made scores of speaking gaffes, especially when required to speak extemporaneously without his teleprompter, that would have been immediately trumpeted and derisively scorned by the liberal media had George W. Bush said any of them. His recent appearance with Jon Stewart was an embarrassment, causing many of Obama's own supporters to wonder how he could not have better anticipated the questions that Stewart asked him. As far as being "smart" is concerned, the Stewart interview clearly demonstrated that Stewart, a comedian, is a whole lot smarter and quicker intellectually than Obama is.

The verdict is in: Obama is a figurehead politician who has had clever enablers and handlers, especially David Axelrod, who succeeded in getting him the nomination in 2008 by essentially running out the clock. Obama can appear to be procedurally capable at times if the environment in which he appears is carefully controlled, but is sorely lacking as a substantive leader and problem solver. This has become apparent to a significant number of those who voted for him, including loyal Democrats who will never vote for any Republicans. Hillary and Bill are waiting. Look for Hillary to resign in early 2011 and hit the campaign trail.

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