It could be worse

“The old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be.”
—Children’s ditty.

You have to feel sorry for Barack Obama. It wasn’t so long ago, riding on a wave of genuine popularity, that his message of hope and change resonated clearly throughout the U.S. attracting voters in record numbers and propelling him and the Democrats solidly into power.

It’s a good thing for him that the presidency isn’t up for grabs because the way things are looking, he might lose that along with the real possibility of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. That’s not exactly the kind of change he was hoping for, plus it’s a real bummer he can’t blame George Bush for this fiasco.

Watching Obama futilely spin the wheel at the helm of the badly listing USS America may delight Republican pundits but it must be a real comedown for him to realize that the U.S. is declining not only economically but also in its prestige. Whereas for years, the country appeared as a beacon for freedom and opportunity, it now looks like an aging dowager whose best days are long past.

The problem is that this is all occurring on his watch. People like the guy. He’s the new face of the job but two years in, it looks like he’s in over his head. The failed and expensive stimulus packages, the botched health care plan, the unsustainable debt plus the stubbornly high unemployment numbers all but guarantee a big dose of whoop-ass come Nov. 2. It must be all the more galling for him that the Wall Street fat cats are giving themselves bigger bonuses than ever while Main Street seethes at his ineffectiveness.

The only ray of light for his surely battered ego is that things could be worse. President Sarkozy of France is facing countrywide riots over his plans to raise the retirement age to 62 (horrors!). The Italians are enduring another garbage strike that’s stinking up the whole country. And the Germans are struggling with an identity crisis because their immigrants are not assimilating like they were supposed to in the failed multicultural model.

While Obama doesn’t quite have those sorts of problems, he still has to address the humiliating failure in Iraq, the uselessness of the Afghan adventure, the instability on the Korean peninsula, the possibility of a near civil war in Mexico and to top it all off, should he still keep buying dirty oil from Canada’s tar sands?

One of the odd characteristics of the American election cycle is that because they happen every two years, it seems like the president is forever on the campaign trail as opposed to most other countries where the results often guarantee uninterrupted rule for four years. Even Canada’s supposedly shaky minority government appears stable by comparison.

It’s then ironic that here in B.C., the Liberals have a majority but because of their ineptness on the HST issue are running scared due to unprecedentedly low poll numbers. Of course, as if on cue, the opposition New Democrats are squabbling amongst themselves. They have sort of circled their wagons but have decided to shoot inwards as is their wont.

Who says politics are boring?

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