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political momentum


Foreign policy the venue for Obama to regain “political momentum? Really?

A blurb from the Washington Post that I find somewhat ironic:

Obama’s return to Washington from 10 days in Martha’s Vineyard and a quick stop in New Orleans to commemorate the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina will begin with an address to the nation marking the end of combat operations in Iraq. Days later, he will preside over the start of a new round of Middle East peace talks in Washington.

Both events offer Obama some political opportunities to help end a frustrating summer on a more positive note. But each is fraught with expectations that could prove difficult to meet in the long run, especially as the White House begins planning a reelection campaign next year.

And a week-long focus on foreign policy — timing driven largely by events outside of the president’s control — could seem oddly out of step during an election season that has been dominated by concerns over the national economy.

I guess “political opportunities” is in the eye of the beholder.  The Post goes on to say that the timing of the foreign policy events is mostly “outside of the president’s control” meaning, obviously with the elections in November rapidly approaching, one would normally not look to foreign policy as a place he would gather “political momentum” as the Post’s title says.

There are a couple of reasons for that in Obama’s case.  First he’s probably the least qualified president we’ve ever had in the foreign policy arena.  Certainly the most inexperienced.  And to this point, it’s rather difficult to point to any achievements in that area.  So it seems to me to be a good deal of wishing and hoping by the Post’s Michael Shear if he thinks this is the arena in which lay Obama’s best chance for gathering “political momentum” again.

Secondly, Iraq can hardly be considered an accomplishment of his administration.  The drawdown has been accomplished there in accordance with a timeline negotiated and agreed to (the SOFA agreement) by the Bush administration, before Obama ever took office.  Ironically, we never hear Obama saying he inherited that.

As for the peace talks in the Middle East, it will most likely be the usual political theater with little accomplished.  Turkey’s entrance into the ME debate on the side of the Arabs has had, I would think, a very profound effect on the possibility of such negotiations succeeding.  I don’t think that impact is yet fully understood, but I suspect we’ll get an inkling of that when these talks begin. 

If foreign policy is Obama’s best hope for regaining political momentum, then he’s in real political trouble.

Speaking of irony, this also caught my eye:

Forty-eight percent (48%) of U.S. voters now regard President Obama’s political views as extreme. Forty-two percent (42%) place his views in the mainstream, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

By comparison, 51% see the views of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as mainstream. Thirty-five percent (35%) think Clinton’s views are extreme. Fourteen percent (14%) are undecided.

Incredible to think that the person who first tried to nationalize health care is seen as less extreme than the guy who did.  The poll speaks to a possibility though.  If Obama’s job approval numbers continue to decline (now at 43%) and if the numbers that consider him extreme continue to climb, I can see a possible challenge from the left in 2012 from Hillary Clinton.

And, btw, if there are any “successes” in foreign policy, you can bet that Ms. Clinton will be sure that she gets her share of the credit.

But you have to chuckle a bit about the noted poll numbers – Hillary Clinton, who was certainly regarded by at least a plurality and possibly a majority of being an extreme leftist is now considered by the majority as being “mainstream”?  I guess that’s relatively true in the context of Mr. Obama, but I doubt that it is true in reality.  She’s hidden herself well – ideologically speaking – these last few years, you have to give her that.

Oh, and speaking of extremist views, the Rasmussen poll didn’t just concentrate on Democrats:

Among five top contenders for the White House in 2012, only former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is viewed as more extreme than the president. Just 38% say Palin’s views are mainstream, while 55% regard them as extreme.

Mitt Romney, the ex-Massachusetts governor who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, is considered mainstream by 45% and extreme by 33%. Twenty-two percent (22%), however, are not sure about his views.

Forty-four percent (44%) say the views of former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, another unsuccessful 2008 GOP hopeful, are in the mainstream. Thirty-eight percent (38%) think Huckabee is extreme, and another 18% are not sure.

It’s important to note that the questions did not define “mainstream” or “extreme.”

Love the last line – yup, I guess “extreme” is something only an individual can define based on his personal ideology (and we all have them).  It is like pornography – you know extreme when you see extreme.

Anyway, back to Obama and foreign policy.  If I were him, I certainly wouldn’t bank on foreign policy being the area that pulls his political fortunes out of the ditch.  He’s certainly, to this point, shown us nothing that would indicate he has a grasp on the situations around the globe and much to demonstrate he hasn’t.  I can’t imagine how his political momentum is going to be restarted in an area in which he spends so little time and effort.

~McQ

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