Friday 9 December 2016

Democrats wonder aloud if 'weak' Obama can win again

Alex Spillius in Washington

Published 10/08/2011 | 05:00

US soldiers at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware yesterday honour the return of the remains of 30 US troops killed when Taliban insurgents shot down their helicopter in Afghanistan
US soldiers at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware yesterday honour the return of the remains of 30 US troops killed when Taliban insurgents shot down their helicopter in Afghanistan
US President Barack Obama arrives at the ceremony

President Barack Obama is facing mounting doubts within his own party about his re-election prospects, with fellow Democrats beginning to ask if Hillary Clinton would have made a better president.

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Mr Obama's capitulation to Republicans in the recent tussle over deficit reduction is being seen as the lowest point of his presidency and the latest in a series of blows to the liberal agenda.

Faced with the staunch opposition of the Tea Party contingent of the Republican Party, he agreed to widespread cuts in government spending without winning any revenue increases in exchange.

Finding it hard to defend his often listless and repetitive performances, Democratic strategists and commentators are privately agreeing with Republicans and comparing Mr Obama to Jimmy Carter, another Democrat who remains the post-war benchmark for a failed president.

'Do-gooder'

"He is a do-gooder at heart," said Morris Reid, a Washington consultant and former Clinton official. "He thinks everyone has the same agenda to do the right thing, but other people don't have the same agenda. Their agenda is to score points and get their party re-elected.

"This is the downside of him not being terribly political like Bill Clinton was. Bill Clinton woke up every day relishing this kind of fight, and Hillary is just a tougher person. The Clintons are much more combative, they are always ready to go to Defcon 1 ('war is imminent' state)."

Mr Reid added that the president remained a formidable campaigner and fundraiser and should not be ruled out of the fight in 2012. But he said some Democrats were feeling "buyer's remorse" for selecting the president in his epic battle with Mrs Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination."The notion everyone is talking about is 'is he Jimmy Carter, will he be a one-term president'," he said.

Gary Pearce, a Democratic strategist in North Carolina, a swing state Mr Obama is likely to struggle to retain in 2012, said: "Democrats are worried. He looks weak, he doesn't say anything that grabs you, and people are looking for some kind of magic."

He said some activists were asking "do we need someone tougher to fight the Tea Party? You see a yearning for a Bill Clinton-type approach and Hillary would reflect that. Obama is just a different political animal," he added.

Mr Obama's approval rating has fallen dramatically since the killing of Osama bin Laden in early May, and he has failed to outline a vision for how he will improve chronic unemployment and a housing market in which one if five mortgage holders are in negative equity.

A 2012 primary challenge by Mrs Clinton is regarded as unlikely, but a growing number of party activists and old hands are hoping that she changes her mind. On his nightly television show, liberal host Bill Maher dismissed Mr Obama as a Republican, and asked his panel if Mrs Clinton would have made a better president.

An article in 'The New York Times' by Drew Westen, a professor of psychology at Emory University and a specialist in political messaging, summarised the dismay at Mr Obama's performance. "Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president," he wrote. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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