A Slam-Dunk For Obama

This is how stupid Republicans hope you are: they figure you'll conclude that no matter how horrible things were when Barack Obama took over as president, and they were really horrible, that some presidential dude ought to be able to fix that disaster by now, and if he can't, then you'll want to put the very same Republicans who made the disaster in the first place BACK IN CHARGE!!

Now, of course the Republicans will argue—seriously they do this—that there was no disaster before Barack Obama took over, that George W. Bush's reign of idiocy, culminating in the 2008 world-wide economic collapse, was actually somehow the fault of Democrats. In that version of reality, if only Democrats hadn't forced the banks to issue all those bad loans to sub-prime homebuyers, then no housing bubble would have developed, no homebuyer would have defaulted on their loan, and no banks or other lending (and gambling) institutions would have faced extinction, along with the world's economy.

What's wrong with that story? Oh, other than the fact it's a bunch of bullshit, NOTHING!

Get this through your heads. No bank was forced to make bad loans. Banks WANTED to make bad loans, because to keep the housing bubble going, they had to extend credit to more and more risky borrowers. And in fact, in the view of the banks, the "bad loans" were not bad loans at all, since the ever-increasing prices on houses through 2006 or so, meant a questionable loan wasn't a problem, since a borrower who got in trouble could just sell the house for a profit, and the bank would not have to take a loss.

And that is actually why all those credit default swaps seemed like a good bet too. Nobody figured that the underlying loans were going to go bad, because everybody was betting on the market continuing to expand. OK, not everybody was betting that way. A few people did warn that things were getting very dangerous. Nobody listened to them of course. Why not? Because they were greedy, and didn't want to.

The fact human greed overwhelmed human reason was SO surprising to Republicans, that Allan Greenspan had to admit afterward that all his little Ayn-Rand-inspired theories appeared to be wrong!—people had actually gone and done the completely stupid thing. They kind of did that back in 1929 too, Allan. They do it all the time.

Now, none of this means George W. Bush caused the housing bubble, or made people be stupid and greedy. But Bush didn't encourage restraint, or caution, and his policies of essentially deregulating an already poorly-regulated financial sector, just made the growing problem of the housing bubble even worse.

These are policies which Mitt Romney wants to take us back to. Romney claims in fact that the slow recovery is being caused by Barack Obama's over-regulation of Wall Street and business in general. Mitt Romney constantly says this very strange thing: "Barack Obama didn't cause the economic crisis, but he made it worse." Of course, sometimes, when people point out to him that actually Barack Obama did not make the crisis worse, but stopped us from going over a cliff, Romney will flip-flop and say he's never said Obama made things worse. Romney has said and held pretty much every opinion about every issue you can possibly imagine.

Meanwhile, when you look at what Barack Obama actually has done in office, a lot of it is pretty disappointing. He should never have compromised (i.e. moved to the right) so much on so many important matters. He should never have believed for a second he could actually have fruitful discussions with people whose only mission was to destroy his presidency. Since he was being accused of being something he clearly wasn't—a socialist—it would not have cost Obama anything to have moved towards a center-left position. He would have still seemed moderate to most people, and he would not have pissed off his base so thoroughly.

Of course that base, though it is way to the left of where Barack Obama decided to govern, is certainly never going to vote for Mitt Romney instead. In the same way, the most conservative voters would never vote for Barack Obama, just because they think Mitt Romney is too liberal—or wishy-washy.

So, in the center, where the handful of people who could go this way or that will presumably decide the election in November, center-right and center-left voters will wait for the campaign and the debates to figure out which way to go. If the economy stagnates, and Romney can stop himself from sounding like Thurston Howell III, Mitt might have a real chance to one-term Obama. On the other hand, if any number of unforeseeable things occur (like war with Iran!!), that could have a big impact on what people are thinking about when they go to the polls.

As for Obama, his best bet is to pull Romney as close to him as he can. Nobody is going to believe that Romney is "too conservative", because nobody believes Romney is really conservative at all. But if Obama convinces people there is almost no difference between himself and Romney, except Barack has more work experience, and hey—he killed Osama bin Laden (via the Seals)—that might be enough to so turn off Republicans, that Obama will secure the win.

Romney actually has a very rough path ahead of him. He isn't liked by the extremists in his own party, and those extremists are a very LARGE part of his party. He isn't able to connect with everyday people, because he isn't one of them, and has no political savvy to fake it. He isn't exactly a Christian—at least according to a lot of Christians who think Mormons are weirdo cult members—and WILL NOT VOTE FOR Romney for that reason. In fact, so many Republicans and independents will have to hold their noses to vote for Romney, and for so many reasons, a lot of people might pass out at the voting precincts this year.

Or they may just stay home because the choice is so lousy.

In the end, it still seems like a slam-dunk for Barack Obama. The President could totally miss the easy shot of course. But it does not seem likely. We shall see.