The case for the re-election 
of Barack Obama? There isn’t one

There is no intellectually serious argument for the re-election of President Barack Obama. Roughly half of voting Americans, if current polls are to be believed, disagree. That’s their right, even though they are wrong.

On a historical and practical level, there simply is no credible case for him. As president, he has been a historic failure, one of the worst presidents in the modern era.

Like Woodrow Wilson, a presidential failure of the first order, Obama’s proudest accomplishments have undercut the strength of our republic. For Wilson, it was the Treaty of Versailles; for Obama, stimulus and Obamacare.

Broken promises unite Wilson and Obama too. For Wilson, there was re-election braggadocio that he had kept America out of the Great War, right before plunging the nation into it. For Obama, pre-election pledges of hope, change and post-partisanship were followed by a four-year record of systematically stoking division along lines of party, gender (war on women), race (Trayvon Martin speech), demography (“clinging to guns and religion”), religion (contraception mandate on Catholics) and, of course, class (millionaires, billionaires, and “you didn’t build that”). Indeed, Obama is to partisanship what Wilson is to excessive foreign interventionism — its namesake and exemplar.

Like presidents named Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan — names in our history books that are also synonymous with presidential failure — the current occupant of the White House has failed to confront the major issue of his day.  In their cases, it was a nation tearing apart at the seams in the run-up to the Civil War; in his case, a nation sinking deeper and deeper into an abyss of debt and fiscal ruin.

Warren Harding had Tea Pot Dome. Obama has Solyndra, Abound and their kin.

President Jimmy Carter’s failings led America to question whether we were still a great nation. President Obama has many rethinking that proposition once more.

On a historical level, this president must rank as among our worst.

On a practical level, the argument for Obama is no better. Deficits doubled, joblessness triumphed and more Americans are living in poverty than ever before. You know the data points by memory.

Defenders of the president point to the significant, historic challenges that awaited him. And let’s concede, the rancorous opposition that awaited him in the nation’s capital was entrenched and real. But presidents such as FDR, JFK and Ronald Reagan faced their own outsized challenges — Depression, Cold War, joblessness, malaise — at the same time governing under the cloud of virulent opposition. But with Obama, these successful presidencies share almost no similarity.

The case for President Obama’s re-election? Viewed historically, practically and honestly — there is no credible argument for it at all.

Several weeks back, I sent an email to my editors at The Daily Sentinel, politely submitting an out-of-the-ordinary request. I asked to submit a column with a headline, “The case for the re-election of President Barack Obama.” In the body of the column underneath that seemingly benign headline, I proposed, would be something conspicuously less benign: There would be nothing, as in no words, not a single jot, tittle, or metaphor. Just a huge, blank swath of paper under that headline, “The case for the re-election of President Barack Obama.”

Like a cold, quiet stare or a long moment of silence, sometimes the most powerful expressions occur in the absence of expression entirely.

The occasion of this election deserves such treatment. America is at a pivotal crossroads. Provocation is preferable to continuation of the status quo. I would have preferred that column to this one.

My friends at The Daily Sentinel, though, quickly rejected the idea, which was disappointing, though not the end of the world. I have felt strongly about elections before, but never as strongly as I do about this one. I know many readers feel the same. The Sentinel editors had their reasons for not allowing a blank space on its pages, which were reasonable, though I liked my reasons more.

In the end, it probably doesn’t matter much.  Most Americans have their minds made up, and all that is unknown is the outcome of the vote.

What is not unknown, however, is this president’s record. Whether conveyed by blank space at the bottom of the editorial page or 760 words, there is no credible case for his re-election at all.

Josh Penry is the former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.


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