Even if he wins, Obama will be diminished

20 October 2012

9:00 AM

20 October 2012

9:00 AM

If a US presidential election has the potential to wear down foreign observers, let alone the American public, imagine what it must do to the candidates. The challenger must spend years campaigning for the endorsement of their own party — fighting rebellions and pandering to diehards — while the incumbent has to work equally hard just to keep in play, while also keeping up the presidential day-job.

Perhaps the effects this can have only really sunk in for the President’s supporters as they watched the first debate. His friends have for a while recounted tales of a Commander-in-Chief increasingly disengaged, mooching around the White House as the limitations of the world’s most powerful office sink in. But most of his supporters only became aware of this as they watched their candidate listlessly stumble across what should have been familiar terrain. Who was this man? Surely not the one who had promised to stop the oceans? Or the same person who once promised that ‘we’ were the ones we’ve all been waiting for?

If the 2008 presidential race saw Obama sail into office on the audacious wind of hope and change, his 2012 effort appeared to have floundered on the first sandbank of reality. To some extent, and as reaction to the second presidential debate has shown, this is in part the narrative decided by the US media, including the ‘new’ media. All is hype. But the supporters of Obama once ran on this fuel. The 2008 election was entirely about such intangibles: optimism, hope, charisma. This race, however, is about facts — and the intangibles turn out to be little use when the realities of deficits, borrowing and unemployment have landed.


Even after his second-debate rally, the situation can be judged by the continuing closeness of the race. It should be remembered that Mitt Romney is a candidate almost nobody had as first choice for the Republican ticket, let alone the presidency. The race is not close because of Romney’s charisma. But in a Republican field dominated by an array of unusually unelectable candidates, Romney appeared to be not just the only safe pair of hands, but the only comparatively normal set.

Obama, for his part, is like a Monet. From a distance it all looks unbelievably wonderful. But the closer you get, the messier it turns out to be. Brits and Europeans would elect Obama because they stand at a distance: they get the coolness, the non-Bushness, the ‘aw-shucks’, carefully timed humility. American voters, however, are forced to see the detail.

And not only see it, but feel it. They have seen unemployment rise under a President who promised it would fall. They have felt the results of a budget deficit which Obama promised to halve but has failed to reduce at all. And they have seen and felt the effects of an economic plan based on borrowing ever-larger sums from China in order to sustain the US’s global position.

Now even Obama’s oratory, which once kept his supporters aloft, seems to have run out of gas. And without the hype, without the audacity, what is there? It is no surprise that commentators like those cited by Harold Evans responded so emotionally to Obama’s poor debate performance. For these pundits, the showiness of the President long ago replaced reality. For them, jobless figures, budget deficits and government debt are debating points — figures to be derided, massaged or otherwise hoped out of existence. But the facts are there and cannot be willed away.

What once looked like an easy re-run for Obama now looks set to go at the very least to a close-run finish. Even if he is re-elected — which most American bookmakers still expect — his dire performance, both in office and this campaign, will greatly assist the Republicans in the elections for the House and Senate. The presidential race itself may well come down to a photo-finish in Ohio. But even if Obama wins there, and limps back to the White House, he will begin his second term a much-diminished figure. For the American public whose ambitions he once spoke to, this will prove — like the Clinton years — a bitter reminder of the distance between rhetoric and reality.

Whether he returns to the White House or not, Obama looks set to teach the American public one lesson he may have wished to keep from them: the disillusioning consequences of voting for hype over experience.

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Show comments
  • John

    Douglas, he’s not going to win. Obama’s done. The American people are not falling for his crap a second time. He’s not running on ‘Hope & Change’, because he can’t. He’s trying to run on his record, which is abysmal. He’s going to lose big. He’s going to retire to his new $35m estate in Hawaii bought for him by grateful lefties, live in white-guilt affirmative action luxury, and ponder when he will take Ban Ki-Moon’s job from him…

    • Baron

      John, how right, and how nicely put; the messiah’s going to get a kicking of a magnitude that will leave the pseudo-liberal tossers soiling their rainbow MC pants, or whatever it is they cover their essentials with.

      • Frank P

        Never doubt the bookmakers; when money talks, bullshit walks.
        (Hope I’m wrong, of course … it springs eternal, but, but …).

        Of course the bookies can change their mind, too. Let’s hope – a few days still to go.

        • Redneck

          Frank, have faith, it will come to pass!
          Mr Murray
          Nice article: first I’ve seen in The Spectator that reflects accurately the view from the “flyover States”.
          Too many, for my liking, simply parroting the vociferous opinions emanating from Washington, New York & LA.
          That’s the equivalent of thinking a view from Westminster somehow reflects British public opinion.

        • John

          The bookies’ job is to take your money from you, Frank.

      • John

        I’ve been on the ground recently myself in Chicago and NYC, and the sense of depression and defeat among democrats hangs in the air. Meanwhile, the Republicans are pulling on their leashes. Bathhouse Barry has booked a small convention room in Chicago for his defeat speech – hardly the giant park he had last time. It’s right next to the highway, so he can get out of Chicago quickly, and he’ll never return there. The mother-in-law’s been running around Chicago telling anyone who will listen that they’re all moving to Hawaii in January.

        Barry loses big.

        • terry66

          I can only hope your right–but then again wasn’t it PT Barnum who said something about underestimating the intelligence of the American public

    • victor67

      The thing is the only people who vote for Republicans are rich ,white racist males much like yourself. The days of winning elections with only this “elite” group are over in multicultural America The republicans have offended women,blacks hispanics and gays.
      So you and Dougie are facing your worst nightmare. 4 more years and no more of Bibi and AIPAC calling the shots.

      • WoodstockWastrel

        OK Victor, please list a few of Barack’s actual achievements over the past four years.

        • victor67

          You assume I support Obama. I don’t I believe in the Chomsky doctrine. There is only one party in the US. The one of big buisness with the Republican and Democratic wings.
          While Obama is marginally less malignant for the poor and he is not advised on foreign policy by John Bolton means that he would be a better choice for America and world peace.

          • WoodstockWastrel

            What would be your ideal system then?

          • victor67

            Well call me an idealist but I think we can do a bit better than the train wreck of an economy due to some wide boy bankers who had free reign to gamble the wealth of a country wthout any risk to themselves or intrusting health care to multi-national drug companies or rapacious Insurance companies or believing the lies of messianic leaders who invade and occupy soverign nations causing untold death and misery.
            Linked to this believing the lies of corrupt politicians in the pay of the defence industry for the need for a mythical enemy and thus perpetual war. (Liam Fox). While making millions on on the back of death and destruction.
            I probably agree with you about how countries can prosper and create wealth but differ in how it is distributed. Not just for the 1%.

      • http://www.facebook.com/kelly.waymire Kelly Waymire

        What are you talking about Victor? I am not a rich, white racist male, and I support Romney. I don’t know where you are coming from with your generalized statements. I am an American women, and not been offended by republicans. You make no sense.

    • Les

      Whatever Mr Obama’s record let’s not ignore the record of the Republican years in the White House shall we. Do we look forward with any hope at all to further decade of economic incompetence as demonstrated under Bush? Add incompetence to a shrill domestic policy agenda leads to a depressing vision of what is to come under a Romney presidency. When talking of deficits perhaps it would be more honest to discuss the root cause.

    • Swanky for Romney

      Hi John. I agree: I think Romney will win. I don’t know that Obama will ‘lose big’: whoever wins, we shall have a sharply and rather evenly divided country. But when Americans have to face reality, they tend to choose the grown-ups of our polity, meaning the Republicans….

  • http://www.wesayuk.com/ wesayukdotcom

    The fact that Obama has proven to be an utter failure is no surprise at all.

    The real surprise is the fact that so many journalists on both sides of pond were almost childlike in their admiration for Obama. It happens every time. They completely ignore the policies (or usually lack of them) and focus on soft issues like “oh doesn’t he look the part; what a great speech ……yawn yawn)

  • System C

    Americans wanted to be loved, they ended up being laughed at. Obama thought that apologising to the Muslim world, over and over again, will make him a hero. This is worst than what a Carter second term would have looked like. What Obama has wrought upon America will take decades to repair and, just as after Carter’s mess, it will take Republicans to sort it out and pick up the pieces. And the media is not entirely blameless in all this, infact it is equally culpable for his disaster, even now, they’re tuning a blind eye to the Benghazi cover up, 16 trillion deficit and millions un-employed. History will write that this was the time when Americans lost their common sense and went mad.

  • T. Botham

    There is a great deal of harm Obama can do in four more years. “Diminished” is not a state he knows. After all, he bows to Arab despots. And he likes to “lead from behind.” Besides, a win is a win. “I won” is what he brings to the negotiation table.

  • CraigStrachan

    If Romney really was the best of a bad bunch of GOP candidates, what does that say about the state of the GOP? Why couldn’t they get more serious people to run?

    • Augustus

      If Americans are that stupid to re-elect Obama and not give a successful businessman a chance, and consider they would rather muddle on with Obama, that’s their problem. Good luck with that! God bless America!

  • robert

    A load of nonsense – i waste of 5 mins read

    • anotherjoeblogs

      with that kind of english, i wonder how you managed to read it

  • anotherjoeblogs

    the only reason i want obama to win again is that if a republican gets in ( irrespective of who they are ) we will hear the same tirades like we heard against Bush for causing all the world’s problems – especially in countries where the religion of peace is practised by the majority devout. i don’t think i could take all this ‘ romney causing mayhem in the middle-east, it was great when obama was in power. romney is a fascist mormon ‘ lefty bone-head nonsense. let obama stay in power and let him keep on performing miracles because he is the messiah and just needs to finish his job.

  • Jesus Arturo Devesa

    the commander in chief find always shelter under
    media desk

  • http://twitter.com/DraimanForMayor Yj Draiman

    The definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

    Obama is the right choice if you want more debt, more unemployment / underemployment, more people on food stamps, more partisanship and demagogy, bloated government, less freedom, and a weaker United States in the world’s eyes. I do not want these outcomes thus I know I will definitely take a pass on Obama and vote for a more qualified candidate.

  • http://twitter.com/DraimanForMayor Yj Draiman

    Obama said if the economy is not improving in 3 years, he is going to be a one term president, the economy did not improve. Please Mr. Obama honor your promise and let a better man take the Presidency and lead us to a sound fiscal nation with rejuvenated economic growth.

  • Swanky for Romney

    ‘The non-Bushness’. Ha. I liked George W. Bush. A good man and a good president, a man that protected our freedoms while fighting and subduing our enemies. You can’t deal with enemies unless you can recognize them, cognitively and consciously. Bush could.

  • http://www.facebook.com/teresa.nolivo Teresa Nolivo

    Its over you all its completely freaking over. It’s done. Ron Paul was our last hope. That was our last hope. Morons of America trapped our over his foreign policy. It was do dangers. Oh Lord give me a break. We are kinda in a bankruptcy right now. I”m not against policing the world but lets do it on someone else dollar for a change. For real we shouldn’t have to babysit the world. Mu God what is wrong with these people? The next bomb that hits Israel be is missile, rocket, or I kill you suicide bomber we track which country it came from and make it a parking lot. If we can’t find which country Well play pin the tail on the donkey and yes you still have to wear the blind fold. We will remove all the christian states and Israel we spin you around and you stick it. Which ever one you stuck gets the bomb. We keep doing that until they grow up. Trust me it wont take to long. Problem solves. Now give us back our constitution. It anyone complains about discrimination, hate speech, disrespecting the Allah/Muhammad (may peace be upon you) then feel free to write as many letters to America from your own country that you feel you need to write. Because here in America we are free and that is the way it is going to stay. 1776 was just a drill. We’re ready this time. It won’t take no 7 years. Both Romney and Obama need to be sent back from where ever they are from cuz they sure aren’t Americans. We don’t cater to anyone. Anyone who votes for anyone of them fools needs to take a hike also. Time to close the borders and restore our Republic. Here educate yourselves for all the Americans reading this comment. You should already know this information.

    DeFacto Gov. PDF.


    Treason Doc. PDF I’m not accusing just passing information.. Love you Obama.
    https://docs.google.com/open?id=0Bwek9ByIxeCpRnhucTBvTHpiVU0 .

    Sharia Law in American courts.. (May peace be upon you) “Don’t want anyone blowing anything up over here.” PDF file.


    Instructions on how to write in Ron Pauls name Docs.


    Need I remind you all that this is not a presidential race. This is a race on who can rig the most voting Machines the fastest. The one who wins that gets elected. So every time you vote on them Machines you think you are voting for Romney but the Machine gave Obama 3 votes instead of giving Romney 1 vote. and visa versa. Its a gamble every time you vote. Thats why this time we are keeping track of all the right in votes for Ron Paul. If the states come up with a smaller number then what we or they I should say have then we know we got them. The RNC GOP cheat so bad its discussing. Let me ask the Americans here.. How many of you studied up on Romney’s Bain Capital adventure? He put more people our of work and gave China more work then the great depression did.. That dude don;t know jack about building Jobs. He only knows how to rob people of their money and send them into bankruptcy. Wake up you guys.. They both work for the same Azzholes. They work and take their orders from the same damn people. The UN, Nato, IMF, CFR, to name a few. Its them who runs this scam.

    All of this is a waste of time. Douglas writing this article and us reading it all of this is one big huge waste of time. It means nothing. We haven’t elected our own presidents since God knows when. Presidents don’t get elected in America they get selected. Wow my head is really pounding. You all should think about educating yourselves a little more. It will leave you more time to so the simple things in life instead of trying to take part in something you have zero control over. Until a real repeat of 1776 happens you and I don’t matter. Ill see you all soon in a re-education camp. I hope my shock collar is pink. I love that color.

  • http://www.facebook.com/teresa.nolivo Teresa Nolivo

    This is American This makes me sick. We demand our country back! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U46MkU_-_wE&feature=autoplay&list=LLCnytMuTlfUNoNdaSv9J_5g&playnext=1



    They cheated us.. The GOP The RNC they cheated us.. We fought through every media black out. We defended every lie they said about Ron Paul We hit the streets and we talked to people. We even had a military march march in front of the white house. Thousands of vet came across the country to take part in the march for Ron Paul in front of the white house and not a single person even new it happened. RT was the only reporters out there. We chased in our 401K;s to donate to Ron Paul. Ron Paul is 100% grassroots and we made it.. We finally made it after everything us supporters when through we finally made it. He go the plurality of five states.. We had 11 states but the GOP kept replacing our delegates with Romney Delegates. They took half out states from us. We kept fighting. We kept pushing. Everyone told us to just give up but we didn’t. We kept fighting. Every horrible bad thing they did to us we over came it. We would just push back harder. This was the will of the people. We weren’t corporations. We wren’t ignorant Americans just back a party name. We are informed educated well diverse Americans who love our country and we fight like hell to save it. We fought like hell for our country. We made it past everything they tossed at us. Over came everything they tried to do. One country after then other. It was so bad they wouldn’t even let half some of the delegates off the bus at Tampa.. The bus wouldn’t stop to let them get off so they missed the vote at the RNC.. They were tweeting this to us as it was happening. We get to Tampa and we made it. Some of us had to drive 6 full days to get there.. We spent every penny we had. Some of us even quit our jobs to campaign for free full time for Ron Paul cuz we were willing to do whatever it took. We get to Tampa and we have our five states and you know what they did? Right then and there they changed the rules. You no longer needed 5 states to get you name on the nomination. You now need 8 or maybe it was changed to 10. I don’t know much that happened after that.. It was to hard of a devastating blow. They Robbed us, they robbed America and the robbed the whole entire world.. We are the super power. What we do effects everyone. We could of had our America back but Romney and the RNC robbed us. They robbed the whole world. Get ready for One world Government and one world currency. They even have a name for the new money but I forget what its called cuz I don’t give a crap anymore. We will give them a revulsion. One that will make 1776 look like child’s play. We do not need or want this corporate government any more. We want our original constitutional government back. The one our founding fathers gave us. We want our republic and we are will and ready right now to fight for it. We are on the verge of a civil war here in America.

    We are taking our country back. So get ready. One last thing Sharia Law can kiss my Azz. That will find no place in America ever..


  • Augustus

    His ‘2012 effort’ has floundered because when President Obama was elected it was with an approval rating of 70%, and almost everyone wanted him to succeed, including many Republicans. But he chose, from the start, to act only in the interests of his political supporters. That was the problem with the stimulus package. It wasn’t designed to get America moving again. It was designed as a pay-off on a wish-list accumulated by Democratic special interest groups over the years. He turned out a dishonest President who does everything The Chicago Way. This man could have done a lot more with less, but there’s a corrupt media out there who long ago sold their souls in their quest to protect him.

  • nonni912

    Beautifully written and absolutely accurate. For those Americans, like me, who never were seduced by the hype, it has been four years of being the unwelcomed and dismissed voice of a “sore loser” Cassandra against unreasoned support for this “amateur”. Now instead of being able to defend Obama, he was merely assessed to the lesser of two evils compared to Mitt Romney. I am writing this after the election, so the results are known, you can always count on the vast majority of American to be unutterably stupid. With the way the population is trending in USA–there will be no need to even consider the odds by bookmakers — it is a sure thing from now on out, just watch the person in the White House to be less and less intelligent and more and more hype — or have you never seen a popular television show in America?