alea iacta esto

Tactics, Politics and The Art of Staying On Course

Win or lose tomorrow’s midterm elections, I don’t think the Obama administration could have played it any better, tactically, over the last two years. He came in with an agenda and he’s working to deliver that agenda. Achieving it won’t be perfect but it won’t be hopeless. Health Care. Financial Reform. Afghanistan. Iraq. Repairing US Goodwill. And hopefully some day: Green Jobs, Education and Infrastructure. I’m not certain World Peace was on the agenda. Not even the Son of God was able to deliver on that when he was here.

Many people have said Obama was too soft on bankers. Ah, the bitter spirit of revenge. Western capitalism breathes and lives on credit and banks are the only effective conduits we have for pumping and recycling credit through our economies. I think bankers and creditors needed and need to take a big hit. Enough to sting but not kill. If we kill the banks we are in deep shit.

Others have said he’s bankrupting the economy. Reagan and Bush (the Younger) did that with incomprehensible tax cuts and runaway budgets. All I will say is that the $787 billion Obama stimulus money was cheap to rescue the US economy from depression. Tea Party warriors chanting for a balanced budget are nutters without a clue. These are the same people carrying placards, “Cut Taxes, Not Defense”. Duh!

I have a dream albeit a belated one. I have just been elected President of the United States. The year is 2008 and my country is caught in the maelstrom of an economic funk the like of which has not been seen for a couple of generations. I have an agenda on which I campaigned. What’s going through my head? The midterms are in two years. Most likely the economy won’t be fixed by then. Right now, I’m as popular as I’m ever likely to be. If I’m going to get anything done on my to-do list, NOW is the time.

Scenario 1: I put all of my energy into the economy first and it doesn’t turn around by 2010. At the midterms I am toast. Nothing on my to-do list will get done before the 2012 presidential elections when my opponents will rightly say “Four years, Mr. President! Can you tell us anything that you campaigned for that got done?”. Scenario 2: I put all my energy into items on my to-do list. It’s a fair bet that some of them will be enacted. If the economy turns around by the 2010 midterms that’s a bonus. If not I am toast. But at least, come 2012, I would be in the stronger campaigning position: “Four years ago I campaigned on the following agenda and I delivered A, B and C. Two years later with the GOP in control of Congress, they willfully wrecked all of the government’s plans on which you elected me. Now is your opportunity to pack the GOP away and together we can vote for D, E and F”. With some luck the economy would by then be coasting on a stronger recovery. (If not, I would probably deserve to be fired).

The question is: would my bet pay off?


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