Four more years
Presumptuous? Maybe. But in any case, here’s our endorsement of Barack Obama for a second term. Some might say this State of ours is anyway the 51st state of the union. Others might point out that Irish voters, according to our recent poll, would back Obama by a stonking 79 per cent to 5 per cent for his rival. The truth is, however, that in this shrinking, interconnected global village, the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will affect our lives more directly than most of our own politicians – if we don’t have a vote, perhaps we should.
Of most immediate concern to us must inevitably be the approach of both men to world politics. Following the calamitous Bush years when the US appeared to revel in its exceptionalism as the world superpower, Obama has brought a new outreach and commitment to multilateralism. He has ended the US adventure in Iraq, is closing the Afghan operation, made huge strides in the war against al-Qaeda, and, albeit belatedly, supported the Arab Spring, not least in backing air support to overthrow Gadafy. He has brought an important new Asia focus to US diplomacy and done a great deal to restore its standing on the world stage.
Would his rival have done, or do, as much? It’s impossible to tell. The hawkish Mitt Romney of the primaries, parroting neocon foreign policy bluster, transmogrified into a dove-like Obama clone in the third TV debate. Stand up the real Romney! And he has similarly reinvented himself on the whole range of his domestic and economic policies – either a cynical exercise in courting the crucial middle ground, or a demonstration that the man actually stands for nothing. Take your pick. Neither makes the candidate appealing.
Obama also deserves credit on the economy . He inherited an economy on the brink of disaster and within months his $840 billion stimulus had begun to turn the juggernaut around. His rescue of the car industry and the important Dodd-Frank financial regulation of the banking were both opposed by Republicans. As was the welcome, most radical reform of healthcare in two generations – its repeal is promised by Romney on Day One.
Obama has failed in one crucial regard, in tackling what he has called “our chronic avoidance of tough decisions” on fiscal matters. But the fiscal precipice on which the country stands is as much the responsibility of the obstructionism of Republicans wedded to what the Washington Post calls their “reality-defying ideology that taxes can always go down but may never go up”. And Romney’s budget correction maths, based largely on less taxes for the rich, simply do not add up.
In the end, Barack Obama can’t walk on water, but this global village is a safer, better place for his years in office. Four more, please.