The American people have just told Barack Obama that he will be a one term President unless he achieves results on the issues that matter most to them. They have also told him what those issues are.
That is the real message of the Republican victory in Massachusetts. It is far more than a repudiation of Obama’s efforts to reform health care in the United States. While the provision of improved health care resonates with Americans and Obama’s failure in this area was certainly a major contributing factor in the Democrat’s defeat it is also clear that his handling of national security, economic and foreign policy issues was repudiated as well and that national security concerns in particular played a decisive role in the election loss.
This can be extrapolated to the entire country, especially since the Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race comes on the heels of gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey and in the face of presidential approval ratings that have been plummeting for months and are among the lowest in history. It wasn’t just the people of Massachusetts that sent a message to Obama, it was the people of America. They said he won’t be returned to office unless they are safer from terrorist attacks like the Fort Hood massacre and the attempt to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight in Detroit, unless the economy improves and people can start working again and unless America’s role as leader and protector of the free world is restored. Improved health care is important but it is not the primary issue.
That is the message. The question is whether or not Obama has the wisdom, strength of character and political acumen to recognize and accept it, rectify the mistakes he’s made and use the remaining three years of his term to show the American people that he is worthy of being elected again. Rhetoric, promises, threats and ascribing blame won’t do it. He’ll have to achieve tangible results in these three areas, at least, and the only way to do that is by changing his policies, tactics and style. Personally, I don’t think he can because of his lack of humility and flexibility and because there’s already too much water under the bridge. I hope I’m wrong though…the country and the world would be exceedingly hard pressed to stand another three years of ineptitude.
We’ll know next week when he gives the annual State of the Union address. By then he will have had time to digest the election results and formulate a considered response. If he bows to the will of the people, puts health care on the back burner and takes viable measures to deal constructively with national security, economic and foreign policy issues without violating the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and general democratic principles his presidency might well be saved. If not, it won’t.
We’ll see. Tune in again after the speech.