Ironically, bipartisanship will now depend on Obama . . .

Well, the election is finally over and Barack Obama is getting ready for the first job where he’ll actually manage someone, or run an operation. The first business I ran was selling ads on a desk calendar that I distributed to Freshman at my college. That might have been a better place to start for Obama, but things worked out differently and next year he’ll have 1,800,000 employees and oversee a budget of about $2,700,000,000.  Well, you’ve gotta start somewhere!

I received an email from a friend who I’d congratulated on the election, and she expressed a sincere hope that conservatives will give Obama a chance so that Obama can end the partisan bickering and move our country forward.  And while I agree with the sentiment that ending partisan bickering would be a great thing, it’s really up to the left now. The fact is, there’s not really much Republicans can do about it either way.  American voters have given Democrats control of the House, the Senate and the White House.  G-d willing the Senate will not go to 60-40, but even at 56-44 there’s very little my side can do to stop the left’s agenda at this point.

So the real determination of whether my suspicions of Obama or my friends faith in him are correct will be whether Obama, Reid and Pelosi pursue a hard left agenda (as Reid and Pelosi at least have promised to do), or whether Obama chooses to follow his claims of centrism with actions. Only by doing that can he end the partisanship as he’s promised to do.

The reason I consider this such a tragic outcome for the country is that McCain spent his career building compromise and coalitions, and Obama had the most liberal and one of the most partisan records in his short Senate tenure. Any hope I have at this point is based on the fact that Obama has demonstrated in his campaigning that he’s quite comfortable changing his position on issues to triangulate around the electorate, much like Clinton did successfully.  If Obama continues to do so then the right may complain less, but it will be the hard left that will drive the bickering. For example, how long will it take Cindy Sheehan, MoveOn.org and the liberal media to turn on Obama if he announces that, now that he’s seen the full situation in Iraq he believes we must keep troops there for the forseeable future to prevent defeat.

On the other hand, while it may be impossible to imagine at this point, will American Jews (of which I am one) continue to deliver Florida to an Obama who allows Iran to aquire nuclear weapons and threaten a second Holocaust?

I hope Obama does choose to be a more Clintonian centrist rather than the Chicago liberal he’s been up to this point in his career.  But if he takes office and begins to pursue things like Card Check (ending the secret ballot for union organization), Fairness Doctrine (ending free speech by forcing conservative talk radio off the radio), and higher taxes that drive us into economic calamity, then the 56 million Americans who voted against him will probably not have much trouble attracting over the 371 thousand voters who swung the electoral college to Obama in the first place.

Obama won by holding Kerry’s 2004 states and adding several red ones to his column. So how many votes would McCain have needed to have prevented this?

  • 106,289 in OH
  • 99,152 in FL
  • 77,931 in VA
  • 69,751 in CO
  • 11,674 in IN
  • 6080 in NC

In total less than 371,000 votes separated McCain from the Presidency.

Of course, I understand that elections matter and the closeness of Obama’s victory does not change the fact that he gets to sit in the big chair now. But while being President will certainly be an exciting job for Obama, and some excellent managerial experience for his resume 🙂 he’s got some pretty big challenges ahead:

  1. By breaking his word to accept public financing, Obama has ensured that no Democrat will ever again enjoy a $600 Million to $84 Million spending advantage in a general election. Obama’s reneging left McCain at the largest spending disadvantage in US political history, and effectively killed public financing for presidential races. No serious candidate will ever settle for $84 million again, and McCain shouldn’t have done so. It’s hard to imagine outspending someone seven to one and still only prevail by 52% to 46%
  2. Obama’s set higher expectations than any president, and perhaps any dictator, could ever achieve. A father of two killed himself a few days ago and left a suicide note asking Obama to take care of his family. A woman on TV last night was saying that she was so relieved because she didn’t know how she was going to pay her rent, but that now Obama was going to rescue her. Obama himself has promised that electing him would bring change to the world and would be the moment when the waters begin to recede and the planet begins to heal. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want those kinds of expectations. A few days ago his campaign began to actively try and reduce expectations, saying that because of the economy they wouldn’t be able to achieve everything they had planned on. Managing people’s expectations will be a major challenge for the Obama amdinistration.
  3. Finally, a Rasmussen poll out yesterday finds that 51% of Americans believe the media was actively trying to help Obama win and 7% felt that they were trying to help McCain win. The American public, at least, believes that the media was actively working to elect Obama. They did so by blaming the financial crisis on Republicans and by hiding Obama’s record from the public. The problem for the media in the next election cycle is that it becomes harder and harder to convince people that everything is the Republicans’ fault. That won’t stop them from trying, of course, but convincing Americans, who per the Rasmussen survey already know the media is biased against the right, that a recession in November of 2010 is still Bush’s fault, is going to be a harder and harder sell.  Maybe even beyond the scope of the liberal press.

I love my country too much to hope for Obama to fail. As much as I believe his policies are foolish and that the public was never given the information they needed to understand him, unfortunately now America’s security, and indeed the world’s security, are tied up in the fortunes of a man who’s never run so much as a small Alaska town of 6,000.  I pray that he gets some good advisors and gets a handle on the egotism that caused him to promise the electorate that he would “heal the planet”. If he thinks that the sheer force of his charisma is going to protect this nation more than military strength, then we’re in for a world of pain. And the US media which protected him from scrutiny and failure in the campaign have no influence on whether his actions lead to a rise in global terrorism or to Iran aquiring nukes.

But if the people who so carefully stage-managed Obama in this election now surround him with people who have the experience we’d normally get from a President, then we can all hope that Obama will listen to them, follow their advice, and continue to deliver stirring speeches that will move people to tears. And in the end, he’ll still get credit for any success that comes of it.

But when the left considers where next to overreach, they should think about those 371,000 voters and whether Obama might have been unable to persuade them without his never-again $500+ Million advantage. Obama can choose to govern as though he had 90% support and that America is as hard-left as he is, and he’ll likely get the same rebuke in 2010 as Clinton got in 1994.  Or he can govern as though, with tremendous help from the media, from his financing decision and from the economic crisis, he was able to squeak out a 52% majority and come within 371,000 votes of defeat.  The people he chooses to surround himself with, the policies he chooses to pursue and the taxes he chooses to impose will be the clearest indication of which path he has chosen.

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