After nine months in office, with the economy still seeing negative figures on unemployment and foreclosures, it is tempting for the opposition Republicans to believe that the midterm election is a time of major gains, and a forerunner of success in the next Presidential election. However, history tells us otherwise.
Ronald Reagan was President during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression in the early 1980s, and his party lost seats in Congress in 1982, but then the economy turned around in 1983 and 1984, and he won easy reelection in 1984, winning all states except Minnesota and Washington, DC
Also, realize that even though Bill Clinton lost control of both houses of Congress in 1994, he still went on to victory and a second term in 1996. Also, despite a similar GOP takeover in 1946, Harry Truman went on to a surprise election victory in 1948.
So therefore, historical reality is that midterm elections cannot be considered barometers of presidential elections, and it will still be difficult for the GOP to defeat President Obama IF the economy revives in 2011 and 2012, even if it does not improve short term in 2010.
Saturday Night Live, which has often had a great impact on public viewpoints about politics, was unfair to President Obama this past weekend, when the show made it out that Obama has accomplished NOTHING–NADA in his nine months in office.
Obama came into office in the most difficult circumstances since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and to expect major results in the short period of nine months, and with total refusal by the opposition party to cooperate on anything, is unjust and unrealistic.
On many issues, Obama has taken the lead and is working on trying to bring positive results, but the website Politifact has pointed out that many policies are in process and more time is needed before one can say that nothing or little has been accomplished. But meanwhile, the right and the left are on the attack, and Obama is having to deal with the kind of negativity that has occurred in other times, including the era of FDR.
So my answer is to ignore the criticism and humor of Saturday Night Live and to charge ahead with purpose, as the President is moving in the right direction, but patience and fortitude are required.
Unfortunately, General Stanley McChrystal is complicating the problem for President Obama on Afghanistan policy.
The General has been extremely vocal publicly regarding what he sees as the essential need for 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan as soon as possible.
The Obama Administration is in the midst of what may be the most important decision making of this Presidency. Should the President get this country more deeply involved in a country where the war is being lost, and historically, no one has ever been able to win control?
Retired General James Jones, the National Security Adviser, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have both roundly criticized McChrystal for such public advocacy, and there are rumors that Obama is furious with the Afghanistan commander for making this such a public issue. In many ways, it reminds one of General Douglas MacArthur challenging President Harry Truman in public about Korean War strategy, leading to his dismissal by Truman in 1951.
Under our system of constitutional government, the President, whether we agree with his strategy on military policy, is the final determinant of our military strategy. So McChrystal is wrong, but this major public flap could lead to Obama firing McChrystal, or the general resigning, in either case creating a massive political problem for Obama.
This just adds to the growing sense that Obama has definitely lost his honeymoon and is being besieged on all sides, after nine months in office.