Pundits muse how Obama can save his presidency. He cannot: Obama, politically, is doomed. Republicans do not have a Reagan waiting in the wings, but that will not matter in 2012. All Republicans are attempting to don the mantle of Reagan, who has thoroughly captured in death what he could not in life, the heart of the Republican Party. This grand and overriding figure, like FDR and Lincoln, will dominate the rhetoric and policies of the Republican Party. Republicans will not commit hari-kari in 2012.
So why is Obama certain to lose, even against very ordinary Republican nominees? Food, fuel and clothing are rising at dramatic rates. Food, especially, is critical. Every shopping cart in every grocery store is pushed by an American who finds prices for ordinary things, like bread, milk, and cereal jumping higher and higher. At the checkout counter, the total keeps rising. In the last six months, food prices have risen by over 27%. The size of the beef herds in America is at a fifty year low and the impact upon consumers will, inevitably, be sharp. Obama and his friends, invariably rich, do not feel the pinch. All the rest of us do. Government could do a lot to lower food prices, from ending the Ethanol scam to overriding environmentalists who are turning some of the richest farm land on Earth in California into a dust bowl.
How expensive will food be in 20 months, when Obama seeks re-election? Fuel costs are rising, and that will push food prices higher no matter what else happens. Retailers who are currently restocking their food supplies will have to recover higher costs they are paying now by passing that on to the consumer later. Environmental regulators are making policy each day which will have its sting to the consumer months or years later: if Obama acted now, he could slow the rise in food costs, but not before November 2012.
Compounding the picture of Americans who get angrier at Obama each time they go shopping (or, for that matter, eat out at a fast food restaurant), is the fact that rising food costs are already creating turmoil in the rest of the world. A planet full of enraged people rioting for more food and for cheaper food creates a domino of problems for Obama. Who do the unhappy people of the world blame for their problems? Us, no matter what, only this time these miserable folk will be partly right. Farmers, who along with oilmen are our most productive citizens, feed much of the planet. When the left places our fetishes with Ethanol and environmentally caused droughts in California farmland, it hits our pocket, but in those parts of the world where malnutrition is reality, hunger turns to violence. Obama cannot quell this rage by symbolic gestures. The more he tries to finesse the real hunger of nations with conferences and rhetoric, the more the streets of these nations will turn against him.
The flamboyant traveling of Obama and his wife will also be a counterpoint to the struggling of ordinary people. Once, many Americans indulgently absorbed his costly trips to fancy places as the giddy toys of a newly elected leader who grew up in uncertain conditions. Now each trip will remind Americans that he is feasted while they furtively seek the best prices for basic commodities at discount groceries – knowing that Obama himself is not pushing a shopping cart anywhere or paying any checkout clerk.
Worse still, Michelle Obama has adopted as her signature program the obesity of our children and healthy diets will make millions of Americans. This will make millions of Americans simmer. The overweight are not the rich of America, who can afford watercress sandwiches and organic foods and then a deep massage. The poor and the middle class can only afford to buy cheap foods, the foods on which the economically pressed throughout human history have eaten of necessity. What are these foods? The food of poor folk consists of pasta, bread, potatoes and other starchy foods. The last thing that the mothers of poor and middle class America, while rushing to fix dinner for their family, need are lectures from someone who can have, literally, any meal she fancies prepared for her at the taxpayers’ expense instructing us on how to be better cooks.
Barack Obama will be a one-term president, a failure along the lines of Jimmy Carter, and for the same general reason. Carter went on television, donned his Cardigan sweater and urged us to lower our expectations for the future: if you are cold, wear warmer clothes in the house; if you need to drive, get a smaller car. We all knew, of course, that Jimmy Carter turned the thermostat up as high as he wanted and that the limousines which chauffeured him around were spacious and elegant. These sorts of politicians have much more important things to think about than us and the needs of our daily lives: and they show it.