2010-09-03 / Columnists

School Scope

Commentary By Norman Scott
Is Obama Toast? Is Hillary Waiting in the Wings? With schools days looming again, I thought I would officially open the School Scope season with a political column about Obama that relates to the educational scene.

Norman Scott Norman Scott ••• When Obama was elected I posed the question: Would he be a Herbert Hoover or an FDR? Well, now that this question has been answered, the next question is: Will he be a Herbert Hoover or an LBJ?

••• I know a lot of people are comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter – a sitting president who lost in a re-election bid as opposed to LBJ, a sitting president who chose not to run.

••• Carter, for whom I have a lot more respect than most people do (his energy policies amongst others), was caught in the midst of the gas crisis, the Iran revolution/ hostage situation, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which many think was the nail in the coffin for the Soviet Empire. Hmmmmm, serious irony here in that under Reagan in the ’80s, the Taliban and Bin- Laden were enabled in the cause of defeating the Soviets.

••• So let’s look at the deterioration of Obama support to the extent that it looks like he has no chance to be reelected. And I should remind you that he only won with 53 percent against a weak, under financed candidate saddled with, at the time, a nincompoop VP candidate running for a party that had destroyed the American economy in the midst of two horrendous wars.

The economy, stupid We have a double dip recession or even a great depression coming. Remember that the 1929 crash was a precursor to the real heavy stuff that came in 1932. So in essence we are somewhere in 1931. As a student of history who studied the Great Depression I was always worried about another one but felt the laws put in place in the ’30s would protect us. Naturally, they stripped them all away in the ’90s – yes, Clinton helped it along.

••• I’ve always felt deflation is a real threat and even a few months ago when I brought it up in family discussions with my wife’s family – a polite term for screaming all out wars – they laughed. Yet, you hear the word being mentioned more and more, especially by Paul Krugman. See his July column “The Third Depression.”

••• Keep in mind, if not for the financial crisis that broke a few months before the election, Obama may not have won or if he did, it would have been by a hair. By 2012 it will be Katy Bar the Door time. Political gridlock – total inability to address the issues In his August 30 column, Krugman, a Nobel prize winning economist who always manages to convince me, does politics. In “It’s Witch-Hunt Season” he truly takes apart the Republican game plan – no matter who the Democratic president is. He reminds us of the endless waste of time investigating White Water and blue dresses. But he points out that in the ’90s the economy was humming. When the same thing happens after the Republicans take power in the House and/or Senate and investigate everything Obama does, including whether he uses too much toilet paper, we will be in beyond gridlock territory. Krugman said: So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House? We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they’re gearing up for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a “wave of committee investigations” — several of them over supposed scandals that we already know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the federal budget, too; I’d put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown sometime over the next couple of years. It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular, we’re still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, and we can’t afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that’s what we’re likely to get. If I were President Obama, I’d be doing all I could to head off this prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe. Organizing ability now goes to the right And let’s not forget the ability of the Republicans and far outers to organize their base through the tea party movement. Thus, the vaunted Obama organizing has been copied and trumped by the right while his organization has been dissipating. They claim they are using the Aulinsky tactics of the left to disrupt and take control of meetings and the political process. They are certainly outflanking the center and left in every way.

A perfect storm Obama is facing a perfect storm. Bad economy and possible depression (Hoover). Bad war (LBJ). Republican constant assault (Clinton). The gulf disaster. Plus these factors:

Alienation of Obama base Add alienation of his own base, especially rank and file teachers, who I predict will be extremely reluctant to drag themselves out to actively support Obama (they may vote for him reluctantly but won’t go to Allentown, Pa. on a Sunday morning like I did in 2008) no matter how much their union leaders threaten them with Palin or Beck or whatever flotsam ends up being the 2012 Republican candidate.

Obama/Duncan Ed Deform Policy When so many people on the ground in education condemn the RTTT policies with such vehemence, everyone who gets it – and these numbers are increasing daily – begins to question other Obama policies. If he can be this wrong on issues we know, what else is he screwing up? Economy? War? Environment? It becomes a laundry list of failing confidence. Notice how this is the one area that the Republicans are in total agreement with the Obama policy despite the fact that it imposes the feds on what has historically been local rights over school policies. Pretty hypocritical. Why aren’t the tea parties screaming about this? Libertarians are more serving of anti-unionism than of some principal of local control when push comes to shove.

Wall Street/Financial Money Dries Up Obama’s victory in 2008 was fueled by the financial disasters brought on by Bush, which brought vast disaffected financial monies into the Obama camp. Much was made of the Obama campaign ability to outflank McCain. In 2010 and 2012 the situation will be reversed.

Loss of the Jews In 2008, Jews supported Obama 70-30. Those numbers have been reversed, mainly due to the perception he is anti-Israel (which is totally untrue). So Jewish money, organization and votes will desert Obama from now through 2012. Think Florida.

And then there is Afghanistan – and Iraq Obama takes credit for leaving Iraq – which gets some support from the left. If Iraq totally blows up again and the 50,000 American troops still there start coming under assault of some kind, look for people to accuse him of going backwards.

••• Afghanistan is bound to come undone and that is Obama’s war. So think Tet Offensive in Viet Nam and its aftermath. Around March 1968 Johnson, realizing he can’t win, announces he will not run in the 1968 elections and will instead work for peace.

••• Predictions Given that just about everyone agrees that the midterms will be a disaster for Obama – just how bad is what is being discussed – and even Democrats are abandoning him – similar to what Republicans did with W in 2008 – Obama will be dealing with an ungovernable, vastly polarized nation where he will be helpless to take action. Obama faces primary challenge, or pulls out altogether: Enter Hillary As it becomes clear that under no circumstances – even with Palin as Republican candidate – can Obama win in 2012, pressure builds in the Democratic Party for him to stand aside to save the country from Palin. If he refuses, look for a Eugene McCarthy type primary challenge to Obama from the left – or also someone from the Dem right. Who knows anymore?

••• At this point, people are pleading with Hillary Clinton to come in and save the party and the nation. Could she pull a Bobby Kennedy and actually enter the primary?

••• If all this happens, the concept that history repeats itself will be written on every lamppost in the nation.

••• Norm has been blogging away all summer at http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com.

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