2012: The greatest show on earth
Yesterday, with a flurry of text messages and emails to supporters, President Barack Obama formally announced his intentions to seek another term in 2012. Recycling his 2008 campaign logo — a red-and-white-striped rising sun encapsulated in a blue circle — the Obama campaign declared in a video accompanied by strumming guitar music that “it begins with us” as “supporters” voiced the need to make good on the achievements of the past few years and re-elect the president.
Despite whatever perceived accomplishments he may have, Obama faces an uphill battle. He has shifted dramatically on numerous issues during his first term, upsetting not only members of his base but also moderates who voted for the change he promised.
To that point, on the same day he announced his bid for re-election, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that alleged perpetrators of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would not be tried in civilian courts as originally promised but at Guantanamo Bay, which Obama promised to shut down during the 2008 campaign. It’s one of many compromises that has left Obama supporters with a sour taste in their mouths.
Obama’s approval rating stands at a measly 42 percent while that of his own secretary of state and former primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, has risen to an all-time high of 66 percent. Despite all of this, Obama seems unbeatable. Having raised an astounding $750 million in his 2008 campaign, largely through small donations from individual supporters, Obama expects to surpass that number this time around, possibly raising a record-breaking $1 billion.
More importantly, his opponents are nowhere to be found. Not one credible Republican has formally declared his or her candidacy, and of the prospective contenders, only former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty has announced a presidential exploratory committee. Republicans have been so late to the game that a debate scheduled for May to be co-hosted by Politico and NBC News was postponed until September.
That said, the litany of usual suspects are all the waiting in the wings. Mitt Romney, the gel-haired former Massachusetts governor, has been quietly making his way around the nation hoping conservatives will forget he is a Mormon and instituted a health-care system as governor that is a mirror image of “Obamacare.” Like a true patriot, Newt Gingrich, the disgraced speaker of the house during the Bill Clinton era, attempted to blame his numerous marital indiscretions (he is on wife no. 3) on the stress he endured serving his country. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania blamed the Social Security crisis on the fact that too many fetuses (and potential taxpayers) have been aborted.
Of course there’s former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose potential joke candidacy is quickly being surpassed by that of a different bloviating idiot, Donald Trump. The toupeed host of the reality show The Apprentice joined others on the fringe in questioning Obama’s place of birth. Trump went so far as to release his own birth certificate, only for reporters to ironically point out the document provided was not the billionaire’s official birth certificate.
Obama faces a circus of clowns who talk some bizarre form of talk and really do not know how to walk. For Republicans riding the coattails of a successful takeover of the House of Representatives last fall — largely because of poor turnout among young people and minorities — the prospect of winning the White House is making Republicans drool.
And although Obama has faced a tough road in recent months, students — who were perhaps his most enthusiastic supporters in 2008 — have not abandoned the candidate of hope and change. A recent poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that Obama carries a 55 percent approval rating among 18- to 29-year-olds, up six points from October. With the campaign just beginning, those numbers seem unlikely to go anywhere but up.
Obama’s presidency has delivered its share of disappointments. But the class of dunces currently looking to challenge Obama has little prospect of defeating him with its current routine of antics. Students, and Americans in general, may not be thrilled with Obama so far, but it should be noted that before we jump ship we at least need something to jump to.
Justin Snow is a senior history major. He can be reached at snow at umdbk dot com.
Originally published in The Diamondback.