Obama to run again

As long-term readers of NightHawk will know, I backed Barack Obama for the US Presidency from the moment he was elected to the Congress.

I first blogged about Obama in April 2004. Then I blogged 11 times on the Illinois Senate race which he won in November 2004.  In my last posting on that election, I wrote:

“I was delighted to see Barack Obama become the junior senator for Illinois and the only black member of the new Senate. This blog has been tracking his progress for many months. He is an able and inspiring politician who is destined to go far and maybe even as far as the White House one day.”

So I backed Obama for President four years before he was elected and I was pleased – but totally unsurprised, of course – to hear him declare this week his candidacy for a second term. Understandably 2012 is going to be very different from 2008.

On the plus side, the charge that he is an inexperienced newcomer to Washington, the suggestion that a black man cannot be elected to the White House, the allegation that he would be weak in defending America’s interests abroad, the need to defeat a strong Democratic candidate in the shape of Hillary Clinton – all of these factors no longer apply.

On the down side, the excitement of  a new, fresh face (and a black one at that) and the novelty of his inspirational oratory are no longer valid. Also the realities of being in office and the lacklustre record in the eyes of liberal Democrats mean that there will not be the passionate support that he garnered last time round.

In fact, given the constitutional obstacles, the record is a good one and the reform of healthcare alone is a major achievement. In the end, the performance of the economy will be decisive. Unemployment is falling but is still likely to be higher next year than when he took office. In politics, it is often the direction of travel, more than the precise statistic, that is all-important.

Also the Republicans have yet to find a credible opponent. So, all things considered, Obama should win an second term. I certainly hope he does and that the absence of any further election will make him bolder in his second four years, although what he can do legislatively will be heavily circumscribed by Congress.

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