The silent issue that could doom President Obama in 2012 election
Unlike 2008, race works against President this time in a big way
By Mike Lupica, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
There will be so many things to talk about with Obama vs. Romney from here to November, but the one that nobody will want to talk about very much in polite society, even in what has a chance to be the meanest presidential campaign for all times, is race.
It works against the President this time, in a big way.
Last time, there were just weren’t enough reasons for enough white voters to vote against the black guy, as much as they wanted to. This time there are plenty. And please don’t believe a single poll on this issue.
If there is one great truth about polling in this country, at least when it comes to race, is that people lie through their teeth. Mostly because they don’t want to look like some lousy, scummy bigot — even talking to an anonymous voice on the telephone.
Of course this election will be about the economy, and Obama’s record on it, no matter how much broad-daylight looting of this country went on during the eight years of Bush-Cheney.
You want to know why George W. Bush is still the only living former President with an approval rating under 50%? It isn’t just because of all the Americans killed and wounded in a war built on lies in Iraq. It is also because of the economy Obama inherited from him, one nobody wanted to touch with a stick at the time.
Oh, Obama ran against the Bush economy once. But won’t be able to do it again, even though he’s sure going to try. He has to run on his own record this time, on the economy, on jobs. Does Romney have a better plan? He does not. His plan, his platform — and the reason Obama is in huge trouble against him — is as simple as Romney sounds sometimes on the stump:
He’s not Barack Obama in 2012 the way Obama wasn’t Bush in 2008.
“There has only been one real plan from the Republicans, really for the last four years,” Mario Cuomo says. “Get rid of Obama. That’s it. Now they try to convince you that whomever you replace him with will be better, even though that should be an absurdly childish and stupid and perhaps even greedy notion.”
Still: This isn’t ’08 for Obama.
It means he’s not only NOT running against Bush, he is not running against old John McCain, a terrible candidate, or Sarah Palin.
When it was over four years ago, even people who didn’t want to vote for a black presidential candidate — but did in the end — congratulated themselves on America finally putting a black man in the White House.
It won’t work that way this time. Race won’t be the only issue, not in a world of these gas prices, not in an America with this kind of unemployment. But you better believe it will be a huge issue.
Two things that nobody will want to talk about so much in the months between now and November? Race and Romney’s religion.
But race wins that one every time, first-round knockout, just because race is always the main event in America, no matter how enlightened we like to think we are.
“You know what race does in this election?” an old Kennedy Democrat I know is saying on Thursday. “It takes Mormonism off the board. Gone, goodbye. So there’s that. And here’s something else that works against the President. Romney’s not picking a bad vice-president. His pick might not be very exciting. But it’s not going to be Palin.”
Suddenly Barack Obama, four years later, is an underdog all over again. It is what he was when he took on Hillary Clinton, took on the Clinton machine, in the Democratic primary season of ’08. It is what he is against Romney right now, will be in the fall unless the economy comes back big.
Maybe he thinks that Romney’s record at Bain Capital can save him, maybe he can rally his base in an election against a poster boy for the 1 percenters in this country like Mitt Romney, whose idea of being a regular guy in a debate is making a $10,000 bet with Rick Perry. And maybe he can save himself in the debates and with speeches, because this is a President who has told people more than once, “Speeches got me here.”
Obama got a perfect storm last time: Bush and Cheney and Iraq and the economy crashing and McCain and the lightweight former governor of Alaska. He got people of color and he got kids. Except now the kids that he needs are coming out of college and can’t find jobs.
There were so many reasons to vote for Barack Obama, not nearly enough good reasons not to vote against the first black candidate for President. Not this time.