April 20, 2012

Obama, Romney & Ruth Bader Ginsburg

(Okay, it's #1,000, but I've always preferred the everyday to the special celebration.  Special celebrations are merely annoying distractions from the more interesting aspects of everyday life.)

I saw my first "Anybody But Obama" bumpersticker right here in my chic-Lib county yesterday.  It was cleverly done.  In the lower right-hand corner was a tally sheet.  The left-hand column was headed "Promises Kept," and beneath that was "0."  The right-hand column was marked "Promises Not Kept," and beneath that heading were tally marks adding up to about 30, as far as I could tell on quick perusal.

I imagine the Obama Campaign is doing a lot of internal polling, now that they know (for certain) that Mitt Romney will be the GOP candidate.  Not that anyone in America ever had any real reason to doubt that the media would ultimately insist on an Obama-Romney runoff.  The electorate at large can only focus and talk about those candidates given visibility by television shows.  Romney and Obama have The Look that plays well on TV, whereas candidates like Santorum (geeky, weird), Gingrich (chubby, snide) and Ron Paul (elderly, cranky, wheedling voice) don't work as TV characters.

So Central Casting has narrowed down our American Idols to the two obvious choices.  But back to the Obama Campaign, and their internal polling: Pretty soon Nate Silver at the New York Times will begin giving us the real story on how this titanic contest is going, but I suspect the Obama people are pretty nervous.  It's not a good sign when a bumpersticker such as the one I saw shows up in a county which is so Orthodox-Progressive.  It's jarring, and it means that people now feel safe to admit the truth: Obama has been a huge, epic disappointment.  Obama's base is essentially limited to (a) Democratic operatives, (b) public employee unions and (c) minority pressure groups.  It's difficult to conceive of an actual Independent being genuinely excited about reelecting Barack Obama, and yet Independents are the cohort, we are told, who decide modern elections.  Essentially, all those Americans who hate both political parties but feel they need to participate in our Game Theory Politics to avoid a more-evil outcome.

Obama will not have the "Hope & Change" shtick this time around, and since his signature accomplishment, Obamacare, was actually borrowed from Mitt Romney, that's probably not a good thing to boast about (especially since most Americans hate it anyway).  Obama's foreign policy is identical to that of the Bush/Cheney regime, only more unconstitutional and warmongering.  Obama runs an opaque administration with a fetish for State Secrets and has compiled a terrible record on civil liberties.  Obama coddles the banks and his anemic Attorney General, Eric Holder, never lifts a finger to enforce the law against big campaign donors.

The Onion ran a hilarious piece in the latest issue about the Obama campaign's decision to tone down the slogans from "Yes We Can!" to "Some Stuff We Might Try, But It Probably Won't Work."  Amid all the commentary about the implacable hostility of Republicans to Obama's "initiatives" that we have heard over the last three-plus years, and the rest of the excuses,  the American public still has trouble avoiding an uncomfortable (inconvenient even) truth: Obama just isn't very effective.  Don't know exactly what the problem is.  Hard to put your finger on it, exactly.

The intrepid bumpersticker guy probably knows that in our Game Theory Politics his position (Anybody But Obama) is equivalent to "Let Romney Win."  Indeed, the bumpersticker was in red, white & blue (get it?).  This could be a clever Romney tactic in areas where overt advocacy for a Republican is just unthinkable (where I live, e.g., or West L.A. or most of Manhattan).  It's a hip way to seem aloof from politics.  Bringing us to the question: what happens if Romney is elected (and there is a pretty fair chance he will be)?

Three words:  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the ailing and elderly Supreme Court Justice.  If Romney is elected, he will choose her sucessor during his first term, and then regardless of which side of the bed Justice Anthony Kennedy gets out of a particular morning, the Supreme Court will be firmly conservative and Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. As I have written before, the effect of a Roe reversal is not the immediate outlawing of abortion; it is a return of the sovereignty of the individual states to decide the issue of criminality.  It's possible that certain Blue States (California, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, Oregon, Washington) will retain the right as under Roe.  Each of these states will become a kind of abortion Reno, at least for a while.

Otherwise, I don't think the changes will be momentous.  America's slide toward Banana Republicanism is already well underway, and a new President (or a second term for the old one) can't do much about that.  I've just been disappointed that Obama never tried.

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