So the real Presidential race is here: Romney vs. Obama 2012. This will be a very different campaign than the 2008 election. Last time around was a complete open election with fresh candidates competing from both sides of the political spectrum. Not so this time. We will take a couple of moments here to weigh in on what we see shaping up as a very important election seasons.
Campaign 2012: Romney vs. Obama
It’s the Economy, Stupid!
Although this race has barely begun (Romney hasn’t even picked a running mate yet), we are already seeing the battle lines being drawn. Both seem determined to fight over the health of the economy. Former Governor Romney wants to fight the battle on the terms of the slow growth of the overall economy and somewhat suspect recovery. This is backed up by the continued higher-than-desired unemployment levels and sub-par GDP growth. Facts-is-facts the ex-Governor would say and it is hard to argue that the economic picture is rosy.
President Obama will have to defend his record on the economy, and it will not be an easy task. On the other hand, he will be quick to point out that when he was handed the keys to the Oval Office, the economy was just at the beginning stages of the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes. The Congress, the outgoing President (Bush Jr), and Hank Paulson engineered a series of emergency financial measures in the lame-duck days of the 2008 Congress and President that kept a number of automotive and financial institutions afloat as the new President (Obama) took office. President Obama will continue to hammer this message home to the American people although it will begin to ring on deaf ears on those long-term unemployed and under-employed workers. The President has either the onerous job of finding a scapegoat for the nation’s continued woes or to take ownership of the state of the economy in 2012.
The President will attack Mitt Romney’s private capital record – with good justification, but like the malaise message from 2008 it also will ring hollow. Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital was in business to make investors money – and they did it exceedingly well. Obama can not make the same claim about his own performance for the American people with the keys to the economy 2009-2012. On the other hand, it’s a whole nuther leap of logic to say Romney (or McCain) would have done better. I seriously doubt it.
When it comes to the economy, Romney is going to have an edge. Romney’s Bain Capital record may not endear him to voters, but voters are also smart enough to know that Romney was not answerable to voters while at Bain. President Obama, on the other hand, WILL have to answer to voters for the slow progress on the economy. He can perhaps point to some of the European economies which have collapsed – but doing so also invites comparisons to those European economies doing well. The President clearly has an uphill battle on the economy.
Obama’s Major Healthcare and Financial Reforms
The second area of contention in this Romney vs. Obama 2012 election will be the major reforms under-taken by his administration. The first being health care (Obamacare), and the second being the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act (see Dodd-Frank / Binary Options). While his performance on the economy has been at least defensible, his major reforms of the financial and healthcare industries have been under attack since before the ink on his signatures dried. As the recent JPMorgan (essentially proprietary) trading losses would indicate, financial reform missed the mark and has been dreadfully slow in implementation. Now in fairness to The President – the banking industry has lobbied heavily and done everything they possibly could by means of their Republican friends in Congress to stall implementation in the hopes of repealing the legislation post-2012 elections. At this point I think you could say the Banksters have all but won, unless the electorate wakes up in 2012 and white-washes the Republicans out of their House majority.
Similarly – implementation of the healthcare reforms has also been delayed – in this case by gangs of (primarily) Republican State’s Attorneys’ General. These Governors and their Attorneys General have filed collectively 26+/- suits opposing parts (or all) of the Federal Healthcare mandate. This issue is not a lay-up slam-dunk for Romney though, given the legislated Federal reforms are modeled on similar legislation passed in his State of Massachusetts which he both supported and signed into law.
Edge: Romney in a Dead Heat
While Mitt Romney may feel somewhat safely distant from the Republican lobbyists who have handcuffed financial reforms, he won’t be able to ignore the source of the Healthcare reforms. Further, if the Obama campaign can find ways to tie Romney to the same financial lobbyists who have stalled Dodd-Frank implementation, it could be a winning issue for him. That is a BIG IF, however.
National Defense – Osama Bin Laden, Iraq, Afganistan
National defense is not normally an issue one would associate with a Democratic President, yet here we are. Arguably the one unassailable bright spot for President Obama has been the execution of the overall strategy of national defense. No major screw-ups, plus one major victory along with a number of minor victories. Osama Bin Laden is dead, and President Obama monitored in real-time the events leading to that historic victory in the war on terror. Shown as an engaged Commander-in-Chief, he clearly demonstrated commitment to bringing America’s #1 most wanted to justice. Compare that to the fiddle-fuddling bumbling press conferences of his predecessor (Bush Jr.) and the difference could not be more clear. Too bad for President Obama he is not running against Bush Jr.
On the global stage I think it would be fair to say that the United States has regained some of its lost reputation. On the other hand China, North Korea, and Iran continue to thumb their noses at the United States. Romney effectively has no international credibility – and voters are not likely to think any less of him for that.
The problem with having a solid strength like Obama does on national defense is the lack of comparable experiences in his opponent. It’s tough to attack a non-existent record. Still, Obama deserves credit where credit is due.
Overall Opinion: Romney vs. Obama 2012
Overall I think it is fair to say President Obama has done a competent job. He’s done what he’s had to do, and pushed for needed financial, healthcare, and economic reforms. Unfortunately for him far too much of the reforms’ benefits will come too late or not be implemented at all. It is my hope he gets another go around in the Oval Office, but unfortunately for him far too much of the fortune of the 2012 election rests on the shaky global economy – over which no one – Romney, Obama, or anyone else – has any control.