Washington Babylon — August 24, 2010, 11:19 am

Why Obama Will Win Reelection: Walter Mondale

With the Democrats looking to receive a solid (and well-deserved) drubbing in the mid-term elections, there’s much talk in the press about whether Barack Obama will be a one-term president. In a Sunday column, Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote: “Throughout this long year, President Obama’s advisers have sometimes looked to Ronald Reagan for comparison and inspiration. If the Gipper could survive a deep recession, low approval ratings and an adverse midterm election in his first two years and win reelection handily two years later, then Obama could easily do the same, they reason.”

But, Balz went on to say, the situation appears far more perilous for Obama than it was, at a corresponding time, for Reagan:

Whatever the outcome in November [midterms], and whatever interpretation is placed on the results, the real question for Obama is what happens to the economy afterward. On that measure, comparisons with Reagan are discouraging for the current president. The economy rebounded significantly during Reagan’s third and fourth years in office. The unemployment rate declined, although not spectacularly…More important, however, was the rise in gross domestic product, which experts say is a far more reliable political indicator. The U.S. economy experienced a growth surge in 1983 and 1984 that helped set the stage for Reagan’s gauzy “Morning in America” ads and prepared the ground for his huge reelection victory…

If Democrats lose substantial numbers of seats in November, Obama’s advisers will probably take heart from Reagan’s example, according to Bartels. But the recession this president inherited is nothing like the economy of Reagan’s time, and the divisions in the country are, if anything, deeper and more virulent. Obama will need the economy to snap out of its slump far more robustly than current forecasts predict before he can feel confident about the road ahead.

If the economy is truly in the tank, Obama might well not win his reelection bid, but at this point I’d bet on him. Balz makes all sorts of analogies between Obama’s situation and Reagan’s but omits one critical fact, namely that Reagan won a second term in 1984 running against one of the worst candidates of modern times, Walter Mondale. Mondale had been Jimmy Carter’s vice president, and the duo had presided over a catastrophic recession that paved the way for Reagan’s reelection. Furthermore, Mondale was a totally boring candidate; by comparison, Al Gore looks as charismatic and feisty as a youthful Muhammad Ali.

And that’s the problem for Republicans — whoever wins the nomination is going to be as weak a candidate as Mondale (though not necessarily as bland). Sarah Palin may motivate the G.O.P. base, but she is not going to win a general election. Mitt Romney? Please. He’s almost as dull as Mondale, and a phony to boot. Obama would destroy him. Newt Gingrich? I’ll give you 20 to 1 odds.

OK, so maybe an exciting, lesser known Republican candidate will emerge between now and primary season. After all, at this point in 2006 Obama would have been given no chance of winning the presidential election of two years later. So who’s it going to be? That whirling dervish Tim Pawlenty?

Barring an economic meltdown of the scale that finished off John McCain’s campaign, Obama will be president until January of 2017. For better or for worse.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2015

The War of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Sharp Edge of Life

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Great Republican Land Heist

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Captive Market

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Day of the Sea

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Great Republican Land Heist·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The wholesale transfer of public lands to state control may never be achieved. But the goal might be more subtle: to attack the value of public lands.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
Article
The Sharp Edge of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The struggle of the novelist has been to establish a measure, a view of human nature, and usually, though not always, as large a view as belief and imagination can wring from observable facts.”
Photo by Eddie Adams/Associated Press
Article
Captive Market·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Fear of random violence lives on, but the reality is that violent-crime rates have dropped to levels not seen since the early Seventies."
Photograph by Richard Ross
Article
The Day of the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Fifteen judges will then sit together in a wood-paneled room, in a city thousands of miles from the Andes, and decide whether the ocean Bolivia claims as its right will at last be returned to it.”
Photo by Fabio Cuttica/Contrasto/Redux
Post
Introducing the February Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ruin of the West
Christopher Ketcham investigates Cliven Bundy’s years-long battle with the BLM, Annie Murphy reflects on Bolivia’s lost coast, and more
Painting by Richard Prince, whose work was on view in October at Gagosian Gallery in New York City © The artist. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:

A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”

A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today