Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
For Obama Friday was not his best day politically over the past three and half years. With the election now five months away, the economic news is now becoming politically as well as economically impactful on the American public. It is these current figures—not the ones next October (because most voters minds' will be made up by then)–which will be critical as American voters consider whether to vote to re-elect the President or not. Fewer jobs being created, upward tick in unemployment plus a negative adjustment in last month’s numbers, are not the type of news that a President facing a tight re-election campaign relishes.
Were this not depressing enough for the White House, on Sunday one of the President’s bigger fans among the Washington media, New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd, appeared to be barely able to give Obama’s first term a passing grade. Beyond her substantive remarks, however, was her critical comments– which have been obvious to many observers for a while–that the Obama re-election campaign has generated no enthusiasm and no fire.
The public excitement that Obama developed in 2008 is just not there. Among key voting blocs including both the young and African Americans, for example, there is not much interest. In addition, these groups in particular—which do not have a long history and pattern of voting—gave Obama overwhelming support in 2008 and he will definitely need them again this fall; especially in the key swing states. If the Obama base is depressed, the economy is stalled (at best), the independent voters not excited by either candidate, and the President not demonstrating leadership, it seems that the re-election campaign may be sinking into deep mud. Meanwhile, all the President has to look forward to is the Supreme Court decision this month on the Affordable Healthcare Law, positive movement on resolving the European debt crisis, more violence in Afghanistan, and constructive action on curtailing the Iranian nuclear program! Admittedly, we are not in October and his polls to date are not bad, but pledging to have a strong second term is totally meaningless if Obama does not get re-elected.
Granted there is still time. Romney may be a handsome and attractive candidate, but he is hardly evokes enthusiasm from the voters; witness how hard people fought to keep him from getting the nomination. In addition, the Republican base is not yet sold on him either. So predicting a Romney win at this point is hardly a confident call. He still has no vice-president and has not debated Obama.
Follow-up to the GSCE Exam Religion Question
Professor Geoffrey Alderman of the University of Buckingham in his column in this past week’s London Jewish Chronicle makes a very astute recommendation as to how to turn the flap over the exam question into a constructive end. He wrote:
…it seems to me that the individual answers are themselves worthy of study. They should therefore be preserved for the purposes of scholarly analysis. We know remarkably little about the contemporary encounter between English schoolchildren and anti-Jewish prejudice.