President Obama floated a balloon yesterday in the form of laying out a potential campaign strategy for his re-election (and clearly, he's chosen not to be a one term president): Run against George W Bush.
Specifically, he wants to talk about the direction he wants to steer the nation and where its come from.
I'm of two minds on this. On the one hand, conventional wisdom suggests that, once you've had four years in office, it's a little hard to paint yourself as the victim of circumstance. We still have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no suggestion of withdrawal anytime soon. The economy is showing signs of early growth, but jobs and job creation, a peculiar measure by which a President is usually judged, have been a dark grey area.
I say "usually judged," because in 2004, George W Bush had a three million job deficit on his ledger, yet managed to get re-elected. Indeed, that Bush was re-elected is more a testament to the Democratic foolishness in choosing a candidate as opposed to Bush's own charisma. His approval ratings, you may recall, dipped deeply into the forty percent range, and after re-election, flirted with 30% at times.
On the other hand, Obama took over a nation that was at its lowest point, if not in history, then since the Civil War. Our invulnerability had been tested not less than three times in the previous eight years: the terror attacks as well as the twin stock collapses of 2000 and 2008. We are, to be frank, shell-shocked. A nation deeply in need of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, and this is before we look at the horrible state of the nation's political will, before we consider the two wars that seem unending, and before we look at the cynical way our leaders have behaved since 9/11.
It's understandable we're depressed and angry, so perhaps Obama's best strategy is indeed to put a happy face on the future. Hell, worse it couldn't get, right?
I'm angry. I look at the news, and look at the rage that's arisen from a small rageaholic minority of Americans and think I'm not alone. And I see that rage beginning to catch fire in moderates, who are not only angry at Obama, but at Republicans, Democrats, governors, mayors, hell, they're angry at the dogcatcher!
This could be healthy, long term, if we can keep it from boiling over into random acts of stupidity and channel it into citizen involvement, not in politics, but in watchdogging those who would corrupt the political process (like a Sarah Palin or a Glenn Beck, or a Goldman Sachs). We need a break from that kind of obstreperous and strident nonsense. We need to cool everything out while making sure we don't get sucked dry by the cynical fearmongerers of the right and the corporatocracy.
Get mad. But keep a clear head.