THE Democrats suffered a drubbing in the US mid-term elections, losing control of the House of Representatives although still retaining a slim majority in the Senate.
President Barack Obama is taking the rap for his party’s worst electoral showing since the war. Adversaries claim he is not in synch with the mood of Americans mired in economic malaise, surpassed in gravity only by the Great Depression of the Thirties.
During the 2008 US presidential election, Obama’s “Yes, We Can” byword resonated with voters and won him the White House. Just 36 months into his four-year term, patience and passion have worn thin. To the American public who expected quick fixes for their ailing economy but did not get them right away, his clarion call has morphed into
“No, We Can’t.”The global financial slump, triggered by the subprime crisis (an American invention), has hit the US hard. Despite being the world’s largest, its economy buckled under the onslaught.
Highly-geared – even over-confident – American businesses had persistently defied warnings that Wall Street’s unfettered adventurism would portend economic disaster. This wasbrazenly ignored.
When the bubble finally burst, US financial houses, touted as too big to fail, imploded, laying bare the folly of unregulated trading and fiscal callousness.
Obama inherited mountainous debts from eight stifling years of war-mongering and high-spending under George W Bush.
He was literally left to carry the GOP baby and bathwater.
Now, what can he do to undo the Democrats’ mid-term election debacle? And can he succeed?
One thing looks certain. Obama’s path to redemption will be no stroll on the White House lawn. To the right, he faces the stark hatred of the white Tea Party movement that even doubts he is an American and calls him a Taliban. In the centre, voters have abandoned him in droves. And on the left, his image as Mr Change has turned into Mr Static.
For two years, Obama was allowed to hope he still had the support of the American voters but recent events have shown they allowed him into their hearts only for a short time.
Young voters and Afro-Americans, solidly behind Obama in 2008, didn’t even bother to vote in the mid-term polls — a loud wakeup call, no doubt, for the Democrats.
During a tour of Asia tour lately, Obama spent a few days in India where he lavished praises on his host and came away with billions worth of business contracts albeit with a catch – US support for New Delhi’s quest of a seat in the UN Security Council.
This and his condemnation of the Mumbai attacks drew a stinging rebuke from Pakistan which felt betrayed by the US cozying up to its arch-enemy, especially after
Islamabad has stuck its neck out for US-led Nato operations in Afghanistan.
Obama who has lived for a time in Jakarta as a child, used his next stop in Indonesia as a platform to reach out to the wider Islamic world by praising Indonesia’s pluralism.
He called for efforts to build a bridge between Muslim and non-Muslim nations and affirmed America’s commitment to this endeavour.
Analysts, however, feel the US president has to go much farther to convince Islamic nations fed up with the double standards of US Middle East policy.
Interestingly, even before it started, the Republicans had raised hell over Obama’s Asian tour, accusing the White House of spending $US200 billion to finance the trip and deploying a quarter the US Navy and Air Force to protect the president.
This is gross fabrication, of course, but what it does portray are the ugliness of American partisan politics and the GOP’s obsession to gun after the president. For instance, Tea Party-backed Republicans had begun accusing Obama of outsourcing American jobs to India even before the ink on the dotted lines of trade agreements between the two countries had dried up.
Republican hardliners have also vowed to dismantle the president’s healthcare programme – ridiculing it as Obamacare — and economic recovery measures “piece by piece and bid by bid.”
Ironically, for all their vociferous attacks on Obama’s policies, the Republicans have yet to come up with any viable alternatives to aid, let alone hasten, America’s economic recovery.
Instead, they are picking increasingly on China (over currency issues) and other emerging economies for a financial mess they themselves spawned.
Barack Obama maybe the first Afro-American to become the US president. But from the hate messages and put-down advertisements, aimed specifically at him by the ultra conservatives during the first half of his presidency and the mid-term election campaign, it is obvious right-leaning white Americans are yet to come to terms with having a black man in the White House.