WASHINGTON — If Americans in their infinite wisdom choose to keep a Democrat in the White House through 2016, let it be Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Increasingly the question of whether President Barack Obama should be challenged for the 2012 nomination is surfacing among disgruntled Democrats worried about a solid Republican victory next fall. They’re right to be concerned: the crises facing the United States and the world deserve better than Obama’s oldest established permanent floating re-election campaign.
There’s no doubt Clinton’s tireless and often effective performance as secretary of state demonstrates she would bring more seasoned judgment to the Oval Office than its current resident.
Here are a just a few reasons the Democratic Party should bite the bullet and jettison the nation’s one-term Senate orator and try to elect the nation’s first woman president.
Beginning with the political dimension of his conduct of the war in Afghanistan to class war at home, Obama’s priorities seem to be governed more by his re-election timetable than the demands of the national interest and reflective responses to the galloping changes in the global order
Contrary to mainstream opinion, Obama is a mediocre politician. Were it not so, surely he would have known instinctively that people get wise to polished repetitive, but empty speeches — and know the difference between bread and butter now and pie in the sky later.
Joblessness and fear of watching retirement savings vanish weigh heavier on the nation’s collective mind than long-range climate change and health care reform. The president’s touted political instincts should have told him all that. But, as James Carville once noted so cogently, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
But while Obama talked jobs and initiated a jobs bill in Congress on his sixth day in office, almost all of his mind and determination remained focused on health care — his overriding priority.
There is more. Even a short and substantively fruitless effort in spring 2009 to get agreement on a new U.N. climate change protocol outranked jobs at home on Obama’s must-do list.
Health care came first, no matter what. The president spent a year getting it on the books, while he assured the country that his close to trillion-dollar economic stimulus program was creating jobs.
Reality was, and is, different. Obama’s stimulus is mainly keeping teachers, firefighters and community organizers on payrolls even though they hardly classify as endangered species.
There is still more. Obama lost no time proclaiming the recession over — blind and deaf to the reality that it was a “jobless recovery.” He saw the upticking Gross National Product statistics and forgot or never understood they reflected only record earnings of financial institutions.
Hillary Clinton with her wealth of experience as first lady, a two-term senator from New York and now the world’s leading diplomat would hardly have been so blind.
Obama’s economic stimulus was a bust because, among his many other blunders, he left the writing of the legislation to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats in their veto-proof Congress — without benefit of Republican input. As a result, Congress presented him with a Christmas tree adorned with pork barrels, but bare of jobs with a future.
Even his re-election campaign has disintegrated to a series of sound bites before handfuls of workers in shabby union halls.
We can only hope that reports about Hillary’s health problems are greatly exaggerated. Her party — and her country — badly need her services at this dark and crucial juncture of history. She’s likely the only potential winner the Democrats can muster.
• Kipling is a Canadian journalist in Washington.