Obama Doing Poorly At Home And Abroad – But GOP Incapable To Seize This Opening In order to become the majority party the GOP needs to become a credible force for opportunity, education and inclusiveness

By Paolo von Schirach

June 20, 2013

WASHINGTON – This should be a good time for the Republicans to come up with their own, imaginative, forward looking and credibly inclusive vision for America. Thanks to Mitt Romney, (a weak opponent), impeccable organization, state of the art data mining and effective voter targeting, coupled with efficient “get out the vote” machinery, Obama won a solid victory last November.

A bad second term start

But his second term has not had an inspiring start. No agenda, no initiatives, no energizing goals at home. In foreign policy, we have timidity, lack of initiative and the perception that second rate powers like Russia are driving developments on major issues like the conflict in Syria and Iran’s nuclear proliferation. Obama’s performance at the latest G 8 summit in Northern Ireland was hardly stellar. His speech in Berlin aimed at echoing the historic “Ich bin ein Berliner” address by JF Kennedy was an ill timed, and rather boring plea for the US and Russia to cut more nuclear weapons. Now, of all the issues in the world, why on earth pick strategic arms reductions, today, in 2013, as if this were a key priority?   

Ill timed Berlin speech

This is not 1985. Washington today is not dealing with a bellicose Soviet Union. During the Cold War nuclear arms negotiations were at the core of East-West relations. But the USSR is gone. in 2013 Russia, while a nuisance, is hardly a menace. The idea that by initiating a new dialogue aimed at cutting US and Russian nuclear weapons Washington will inspire other countries to follow suit, possibly convincing the bad guys, (read Iran and North Korea), to give up their nuclear ambition is a really silly non starter.

Not like in 2008

Beyond this wasted opportunity to talk about something really inspiring, let us remember that in 2008 Obama was welcomed in Berlin by an enthusiastic, huge crowd. This time around just a few people. The fact that for security purposes the President was standing behind a barrier that caused an odd reflection on all TV screens certainly did not improve the imagery. Bottom line, this whole Berlin appearance was  a low key, uninteresting and almost sorry affair. 

Add to that the various little and mid sized “scandals” at home and you have Obama now going down in the opinion polls. Well, this may change, of course. But, all in all you have a hardly formidable incumbent who got on a flat start of his second and last term. Meanwhile the economy, while growing a bit, is still rather weak and the unemployment rate is still stubbornly high.

Opening for the GOP

Well, you would think that the defeated Republicans would realize that they have an opening, a real opportunity. Many US voters are having buyers remorse. Time for the loyal opposition to come up with its own Grand Plan? Well, no. Leave it to the Republicans to be stubbornly inept. Aside from substance, the GOP has  a horrible public persona of a party of yahoos. The Republicans are generally viewed as the party of middle aged, white middle class people. Unless the GOP can shake this stereotype off, at the national level the Republicans are doomed. In order to be again the majority party, they have to be become the party of opportunity, education, enthusiasm and inclusiveness.

Republicans keep reinforcing the negative stereotype

And what do they do instead? The House keeps voting against Obamacare. OK, they may have point there. But this looks like ideological opposition. Do the Republicans have a better health care agenda? If so, show it, explain it, run with it.  Worse yet, you have another House vote aimed at limiting abortion. And this is another stupid idea. Whatever the merit of this proposal, it is easily construed by the Democrats as yet another example of how “anti-women” the Republicans are. The last time we checked women are more than 50% of all American voters.

And, last but least, you have the die hard opponents of any effort to reform immigration. They may be a small minority within the GOP. But they get all the attention. In so doing they reinforce the view of a reactionary GOP that hates immigrants and therefore all minorities. Has anybody considered the growing relevance of the Latino vote nationwide and in several key states? 

This way they will never win

And so, here is the picture. The Republican Party wants to abolish the welfare state. It is against Blacks, Latinos, Women, Poor Children and Gays. It wants to force religious education in schools. It is beholden to the gun lobby, while it wants to keep the death penalty. Again, this is a stereotype. But a majority of Americans buy it. And you can count on the Democrats to repeat it incessantly at election time.

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