Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The never ending presidential campaign is finally over. The electorate chose the redux over the "remade."  During the campaign President Obama often looked like a man who did not want to be there, admitting that he felt sometimes like a sort of prop. He acted like a character of Chekhov, lost in some utopia. Governor Romney, who had a difficult start, became a formidable candidate but let himself become hostage to fractions within a Republican Party which sold its soul to extremes on the right.  Hence women, gays, minorities, and younger people left the ranks of a party which appeared to be steered by cranky old men and women of the Palin/Coulter/Bachmann/Ayn Rand objectivism brand, in the wrong direction. The GOP from the old days went underground.

The result of the election does not look promising in the short-term. The co-founder of Google called any American government today a "bonfire of partisanship," urging politicians to go independent. I can understand him.  While the problems remain-- jobs, economy, foreign affairs (Israel, China, two-states solution in the Middle East, Iran), debt--I fail to see why a bruised party would become more open to compromise. The Republicans need to go into rehabilitation first to get cured of the Tea Party curse. The Democrats have to come up with concrete proposals and stop hiding behind hollow slogans. Meanwhile, Wall Street has suffered a stroke and I doubt that a lame-duck Congress will be able to come up with consensual proposals to tackle the fiscal cliff before year's end.

The President himself does not have it in his temperament to make bold political  moves or to reach out. Besides, he cannot afford to alienate an electorate which will ask for a dividend: immigration, education, health care, climate change, taxing the rich, measures which will end up making any bill a non-starter in Congress where Republicans control the House. In the long run the President might have an opportunity to re-balance the Supreme Court to the centre left.  Likewise, he should continue to reinvest the United States worldwide. His Asian policy, under fire by Prof. Robert S. Ross, is a smart move, but elsewhere more menacing fires continue smoldering.

The elections solved nothing for now. Romney would certainly have been seen as a possible agent for "pivot" (for the better or the worse) and the United States and the world at large would have held their breath.  The role of government would certainly have been X-rayed. The Republican candidate made some faux-pas and often got lost in the rabbit hole which had been trapped by the Democrats.  Nevertheless, his alpha male message and the professionalism (which I disagreed with) of Paul Ryan, his running mate, were impressive. President Obama's demure remains one of distance and chamber music, notwithstanding the obligatory ice cream stops and repetitive stump speeches.  Air Force One was his shelter, the stops were his nightmare. Occasionally there was a glimpse of emotion, which he hurried to lock up as soon as it appeared.
Obviously there will be a change in personnel (less in entourage) but in reality he has only two years to function normally, before becoming a lame duck president. I believe that he realizes that "heaven can't wait" but Congress and his own psyche might stand in the way of compromise or acceleration. One doesn't win over political rivals with drones, neither will a phone call heal broken relationships at home and abroad. Obama is too intelligent not to appreciate the Gordian knots ahead, but will he have the will to switch the "other" for his "reflection" mirror?

A final note:  the electoral college looks more and more like an aberration in times wherein democracy is more than ever in need of transparency rather than of intermediaries.

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