UNITED STATES: by Hal G.P. ColebatchNews Weekly
How the US Republicans failed in 2012
, March 2, 2013
The second Obama presidential victory has left America’s conservative party, the Republicans, in unprecedented despair and bewilderment.
Obama’s Republican challengers in 2008 and 2012 were not lightweights. Both were experienced politicians and outstanding men. Senator John McCain was the scion of one of America’s most distinguished naval families and an authentic war-hero to boot. Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney was a fiscal genius and an exemplary family man.
Obama by contrast has had minimal legislative experience, has hardly worked at a real job and has an extremely murky background, with associations with communists and other extremists in his past. Far from being a good family man, he, a millionaire, has allowed his own half-brother, George Hussein Obama, to exist at starvation level in a Nairobi shanty-town.
The so-called “birthers”, who have questioned the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate, had a case at least strong enough to justify an official investigation; but Obama adopted the Clinton tactic of ignoring the concern rather than answering it, regardless of the damage this caused to the whole principle of good governance.
Further, his first term has been littered with disasters at home and abroad, with Muslim extremists gaining power in several countries and suffering setbacks in none (except in Iraq, a George W. Bush initiative). Afghanistan has grown from a US punitive expedition to a quagmire war, lost from Day One.
Overall, America’s friendships have been soured and its enemies encouraged. The armed forces and the space program have been cut back. Further, when comparing Obama’s whole style and milieu with distinguished black Americans, such as conservative economist and political commentator Thomas Sowell and Supreme Court associate justice Clarence Thomas, it has been impossible to escape the conclusion that Obama despises traditional American patriotism and wishes to destroy it.
In both foreign and domestic affairs, the first Obama presidency was a series of disasters outdoing the most pessimistic predictions. Added to this were fiscal policies which any competent economist knew would be counter-productive, and policies which violated the religious consciences of many.
Racial divisions were exploited shamelessly, no matter how much harm they did. As a backdrop to all this was a general atmosphere of defeatism and a deliberate retreat from American ideals of greatness.
The gift to a now-hostile Egypt of F-16 fighter jets and an extra 20 Abrams tanks, which can only be used against Israel, looks like madness. (Despite this, Obama still won a majority of Jewish votes).
Then there was the lunatic plan to make NASA into a feel-good agency for Arabs. The extreme left has made further inroads into Latin America, with what looks like Obama’s active encouragement.
An illustration of the state of things was Obama’s vow, immediately after the September 11, 2012, Benghazi murders, to bring the murderers to justice. Previously, when a US President spoke in such a tone, the words meant something. This time, no one even pretended to take them seriously — Obama’s America plainly had neither the means nor the will to do any such thing. What should have been a meaningful promise and commitment was as obviously empty as the sentries’ rifles at Buckingham Palace. No one challenged him on this.
One could go on about Obama’s foreign and domestic shortcomings at length, and equally about the Republicans’ failures to take advantage of them. A simple map of the Middle East showing the growth of anti-Americanism during Obama’s first term, and the number of American dead in each country, widely distributed, would have been enough to do the Obama campaign enormous damage.
Yet it seemed there was no coherent Republican campaign at all. Those responsible simply made it up as they went along.
All this made Republican despair understandable. Americans in 2012 voted for more of a long, dismal retreat on every front, for a President with an appalling foreign and domestic policy record. It points to a disjunction of values and traditions so calamitous that, for the first time since 1865, the break-up of the union is being seriously raised in some quarters.
What went wrong? The obvious short answer is that the Republicans lacked a killer instinct. There was a plausible suspicion that the Republican candidates, fine men as they were, had already, at a deep, subconscious level, cast themselves as losers. To compare them with the aura of “We win, they lose”, projected by the Reagan campaign, is to say it all.
Observing the Republican candidates, one became aware of their shortcomings, even of their lack of hunger for office. The Republican Party as a whole lacked any strategic plan.
Republican candidates appeared trapped in a Maginot Line mentality, which relinquished the strategic initiative to their Democrat opponents. By their continuing to attack each other so far into the campaign, they effectively formed circular firing squads.
To prevent America and the world suffering the dire consequences of a third Democrat term, the Republicans had better make haste to work on a strategic plan for 2016.
Hal G.P. Colebatch, PhD, is a Perth author and lawyer.