Friday, February 04, 2011

procession of presidencies - part 2

It took me longer to get back to this than I thought. When I last left off, I had explained my theory on presidential elections. Basically, I had gone through presidents from JFK to JEC showing that the results of each election was predictable. It's almost as if some "invisible hand" was guiding not just economics, but elections too.

The last president I covered was President Carter. He took over after Ford, the only un-elected president we've ever had. America wasn't too happy with America. We'd been through the Vietnam war, then a crooked president. Then a president who tried to patch things up (Ford), but never seemed to do anything of note (except the Mayaquez incident). Inflation was high, unemployment was high. And things didn't get much better after Carter stepped in.

The hostage crisis in Iran sealed President Carter's image. Fairly or not, Americans felt defeated. A rescue attempt failed, costing the lives of 8 servicemen. The hostages were taken deeper under cover and were not released until after Carter left office.

America need to regain confidence in American. Ronald Reagan was the man for the job. Reagan was every man's grandfather. It didn't matter what he said, you just liked him. He believed in himself and he believed in America. He wanted to take the country back. I heard back then, that there was a huge boost in the sales of American flags. With him in office, America recovered. The economy got better, we ended the Cold War with the Russians and we actually made progress. We bombed Libya (on my birthday) and showed we would not put up with terrorism. Reagan surrounded himself with some very smart people, he may have been the last president to do so.

After 8 years of Reagan, control of the presidency went to his VP, George H.W. Bush. His time was lackluster. And his timing was worse. Americans had 8 years of Reagan and saw Bush as a continuation. They made fun of his "points of light" and everything else he did. When it was time for re-election, the economy was down and he seemed to not care.

In walked Bill Clinton. Like JFK, he held a Prince Charming appeal. America wanted a younger person in office, someone with charisma (a value Bush never was accused of). Sure, he was a womanizer, but he was a good looking womanizer. Men would laugh, women didn't care. And he said he would fix the economy.

At the end of his first stint, the economy looked good, so he was reelected. But after eight years, America decided it wasn't just the economy that was important, it was credibility also. They were tired of the snickers and back room jokes. Tired of the womanizer or maybe he had just grown too old? American wanted credibility again an reminisced about the days of a man named Reagan. He wasn't available and his VP Bush hadn't been all that good, but another Bush stepped in.

On George W. Bush's first presidency, 9/11 happened. Americans everywhere were convinced he was the right man for the job. There was even a political cartoon that showed Tipper Gore saying she thought he was a better choice. He was locked in for 8 years, primarily on the vote of Obam Bin Laden.

Americans can't be patient with anything and at the end of 8 years, the economy was again in a bad situation.Terrorism was no longer considered as big a threat as in 2004 and the reminiscing of Reagan fell flat. America wanted a change again, someone younger. A fresh view of the world. Someone who wasn't a cowboy. Someone who could negotiate.

In a perfect storm, a young candidate named Obama showed up. Not just a change, THE change. He wasn't Bush and he wasn't Clinton. He cared about people. He was a minority, but not too much of one. Americans could identify with him.

So what does this mean for 2012? Well predictions are easy in hindsight. It's the forward looking predictions that are hard. But I believe most presidential elections revolve around the economy. If the economy rebounds, President Obama will have no trouble getting reelected. If there is another 9/11 attack and if President Obama responds, he will have no trouble getting reelected. (I don't think there will be another 9/11, Bin Laden has no incentive) If on the other hand, the economic recovery still lags (and I think it will), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still linger and we have new issues crank up (Korea, Tibet, etc), I think he will face strong opposition.

It will be up to his opponents (both Democrats and Republicans) to surface a new face, one that shows confidence. One that shows patriotism (I think we're headed back to that).

What do you think?


LL said...

The pendulum is swinging away from the weak, metrosexual, utopian socialist that the nation voted into the White House.

Worse still than Obama was the dismal choice offered to the American people. McCain, the aging statesman and most left of center of any of the ranking Republicans in the Senate didn't offer voters much hope. I suspect that a moribund McCain presidency wouldn't have been very satisfactory.

Randy said...

LL, I like your choice of the word "pendulum" - that's the way I see it. And I agree, the choices last time around weren't our best options. I think nothing could have stopped Obama and nothing could have started McCain.

Question is, will the pendulum swing all the way to the right, or will the economy improve just enough to make it go back left again? Will we have an international event big enough for people to care outside these 48 states? My crystal ball's gone cloudy...

Thomas said...

I find it interesting that people hold the President responsible for economic conditions. If he truly had the power to improve the economy whenever he wanted to, there'd be no need to hold elections after a Prez's first four years as he would make sure that the economy was in top-tip shape at that time.