Feb 072010
Authors: Ian Bezek

On Friday, the Associated Press reported a surprising story, saying, “No, maybe he can’t. President Barack Obama, who insisted he would succeed where other presidents had failed to fix the nation’s health care system, now concedes the effort may die in Congress.”

While it was obvious that support for health care reform had been sliding for months, most people still thought that a bill of some sort would still be hammered out. Now it appears that the surprising election of Sen. Brown (R-Mass.) has closed the door on health care reform.

Obama is still urging Congress to bring the legislation to a vote, but his concession will give more moderate Democrats an excuse to vote against the legislation –– which isn’t popular in their home districts –– and end health care reform.

Last spring, Obama said that he was “quite comfortable” with being a one-term president if he was able to pass his major initiatives. Now with health care reform and sweeping environmental changes stalled and the economy still suffering, the Obama administration must change tactics, or Obama will assuredly become a one-term president but without the accomplishment of passing his most desired proposals.

The Obama administration is now at a crossroads; it can follow in the path of either President Clinton or President Carter.

Obama shares similarities with both of the last two Democratic presidents; all three have gotten off to rough starts, as they quickly lost the support of many of their constituents. However, Carter would never recover from his initial swoon, his failed economic policies, unpopular foreign policy and his frequent feuding with the legislators of his own party doomed him.

President Clinton also got off to an unpopular start.

With complete control of Congress and the Senate, just as Obama has had, Clinton went hard to the left, attempting to pass a variety of unpopular liberal policies. Most notably, Clinton’s HilaryCare health care proposal was a dud –– Americans were no more eager for socialized medicine 15 years ago than they are today.

Clinton became so unpopular so quickly that it led to devastating losses in the midterm elections of 1994, in which the “Republican Revolution” swept into Washington D.C., winning 54 Congress seats and eight Senate seats, both absurdly high totals.

But Clinton was able to right his ship. How’d he do it? He went to the center, passing sensible moderate legislation that was genuinely bipartisan and appealed to a wide range of voters.
His welfare reform that demanded that people receiving assistance at least, gasp, try to find work was a popular piece of legislation that found support on both sides of the aisle.

His balanced budgets were a rare feature of recent American politics that won him accolades from many. And his sober-minded foreign policy (excluding Kosovo) won the respect of both Americans and the world as a whole.

His governance was so good, in fact that he was able to recover not only from the “Republican Revolution” but also the numerous scandals, both fiscal and sexual.

Obviously, if Obama wants to have at least a decent presidency, he needs to follow in Clinton’s footsteps, not Carter’s, and run toward the center. His election in 2008 was a rejection of President Bush’s failed policies, not a mandate for socialism.

Obama’s plummeting approval rating and Democrats’ inability to hold Senate seats in liberal bastions such as Massachusetts show that Americans are over their rage at Republicans and have returned to being worried about the growth of our bloated, feeble and bankrupt federal government.

People don’t want to talk about the budget deficit; they want it actually balanced, as Clinton did. They don’t want the President to feel our economic pain, as Carter did, they want him to actually make meaningful reforms to the financial system rather than staying in bed with Wall Street as Obama has done.

Obama should realize one thing, if he keeps pushing his liberal agenda to an unreceptive public, he will follow in the steps of Carter. And Carter won all of six states in his pitiful re-election campaign; in fact Carter’s presidency was so bad it set the stage for a decade of unchecked Republican rule.

That’d be a heck of a legacy to leave, President Obama.

Editorials Editor Ian Bezek is a senior economics major. His column appears Mondays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com

 Posted by at 1:45 pm

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