Should World Leaders be Pessimistic About Obama’s Re-Election Chances?

Dennis McShane writes a bleak warning to the British Left in the New Statesman on the likelihood of a Romney Presidency, a prospect they should prepare for if they find themselves in power:

In America,  the liberal-left dislike of Romney may not be enough to offset the Obama record. The “Yes we can” élan of 2008 has turned into the “No we couldn’t” morosity of 2012. Figures from the US Survey of Consumer Finances show that the median US family is now no better off than 20 years ago. The Clinton and Bush years made rich Americans ever richer but median family income has fallen from $49,600 in 2007 to $45,800 in 2010 under Obama….

Like Jimmy Carter persuading himself he could bring the Soviet leader Leonid Breshnev into a relationship with America, Obama thought that  if he pressed the “reset” button with Russia, there would be harmony between the White House and the Kremlin. Putin has made no concessions and still believes America is out to get him. As a result, Obama has been quagmired on Syria, on Iran, on the Balkans, and has no foreign policy pluses to show. He has not moved on the Middle East and his war in Afghanistan drags on and on like the last years in Vietnam. Drone strikes have alienated Pakistan and while Osama Bin Laden is dead, jihadi terrorism isn’t. To be sure, Obama hasn’t been helped by the worst generation of leaders in Europe since the 1930s.  Unlike Thatcher with Reagan or Blair with Clinton, Obama has little bond with Britain’s Old Etonian prime minister who is bored by foreign affairs and believes in economics most Americans think come from Downton Abbey times.

McShane may be presenting a pretty pessimistic view of the race, but it’s worth taking seriously as global leaders may have to prepare for another ideologue in charge of the most powerful country in the world. The prospects are pretty horrifying given Romney’s behavior on his recent foreign policy tour, and everyone will have to go back to worrying about what insane, unilateral policy the White House decides to implement in the name of America power and free markets.

McShane aimed his piece at the British Left, but I think the message is salient for pretty much every leader of every industrialized nation (other than perhaps Israel). Romney is so far to the Right that the British National Party looks reasonably moderate in comparison, making conservatives in Spain, Germany and Britain look like Commie pinkos. There’s a lot working for Obama in this election (namely the awfulness of Mitt Romney), but as we’ve learned in the past, never underestimate the power of voter apathy. If the Left falls asleep in America, Romney wins, and the world becomes a much more difficult place to navigate.

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