Is Obama doomed in 2012?

US President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event in Washington, DC, on 13 December 2011 Many have seen Barack Obama as a disappointment

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2012 will be an important year for America. The president, elected amid such optimism and enthusiasm in 2008, could be chucked out of office. The times feel very different. Obama was elected promising hope and change.

Change there may be in 2012, but there was precious little hope around in 2011. The election will be a clash of two Americas and two very different economic visions of what the country should be. Whoever wins the election in November, the result will leave the losers with a sour taste. The US could be a fractious, jittery place by the end of the year.

Vice-President Joe Biden has a saying: "Don't judge me against the Almighty, judge me against the alternative." This is the year Mr Obama will indeed be judged against the alternative. Some think this will save him. So a lot hangs on whom the Republicans choose as their candidate for the next president of the United States. More on that from Iowa in the coming week.

The other major factor in whether or not Obama survives in office is the state of the economy. There are glints of light, indications it is getting a little better. But another set-back in Europe could blow the US further off course. And whatever story of slight optimism the statistics tell, most Americans won't be bathed in the glow of a feel-good factor.

It is hard not to look back on the mood in 2008 without shaking your head slightly. There is little doubt President Obama has been a disappointment. He has disappointed many supporters, disappointed those in the middle ground, and even, curiously, disappointed his enemies.

Obama loyalists will point out that no mortal could have lived up to the expectations heaped upon his head, especially when he had been dealt such a poor hand. They argue that he has saved the country from ruin, while accepting no-one gets credit for preventing disasters.

But it is also true that many of those who strongly backed him, and will still back him, think he has not been bold enough and has not confronted those who were always going to tear him down.

Many in the less ideological middle ground have the opposite complaint. They are often disappointed that instead of the dawn of a new politics, there has been a exacerbation of politics as usual.

One of Obama's key appeals was as a healer, a bridge as one biography put it. He preached a future where Americans would work together, reaching across party divides. Instead, the bitterness, distrust, and gridlock have grown worse.

While he talked of changing the way politics was done, we have seen the same old Washington grow in strength and obstructionism, more broken, even less desirous of reaching solutions than before. Maybe that is not his fault. But it is not his triumph either. The obstacles have been piled higher, not blown out of the way.

His enemies were never going to like what he was about, and what he stands for. They would never applaud his economics or his foreign policy. But the best politicians earn a sneaking admiration for their skills even from those who detest what they do with their talents.

Mrs Thatcher did. Tony Blair did. FDR did. (It's probably true Reagan didn't.) But Republicans think Obama has handled the politics badly, and Congress worse. He has been politically clumsy handing both allies and opponents.

So the charge sheet against him is long. But that does not mean he will lose. The odds are about even. So much depends on his opponent, the economy and his strategy. I will be following all three very closely, and you can read about it first here.

A Happy New Year to one and all!

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Is the Obama Administration doomed? It`s hard to say but irrelevant, at least in my humble opionion. With the Bush lot, you knew what you were getting, and the world got it. With the current Administration, I think it`s pretty much the same but only packaged differnetly and delivered very seruptitiously as recent events have shown. Lastly, the US is a cortopracy and in trouble!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    He's a disappointment because he has spent MORE MONEY in 3 years than Bush did on 2 wars and 8 years. (After promising less spending and change) ObamaCare is a 2 Trillion $ waste that HE decided was best. He promised change but has been none. And WE THE PEOPLE saved the economy of the USA..not a single man. You are giving credit where it's not due. WE SAVED OUR ECONOMY. US. Not the president.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Gonna come down to 'is the alternative worse, or better' if Obama is voted out.
    And the comment on Iran. It isn't just us. But blocking of the oil trade route will DESTROY economies. If IRAN blockades and doesn't allow any oil out from any country, it will destroy economies. That is a threat. Not another IRAQ far from it. Think the EU is in trouble? try a blow to your economy as big as a Gas shrtg

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Obama fails to understand the American people and their fundamental belief in self sufficiency and freedom of choice.
    His continual self promotion,insensitive conduct to the hardworking and lack of understanding of how the American people have built the nation's success without big government involvement and incompetence make him incapable of unifying the nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Mr.Obama has failed to govern wisely. Despite a super majority in both houses of Congress in his 1st 2 years, he could not deliver on his programmes. His eloquent words proved to be just words. Time to "Move On"!

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Sorry for sounding extremely naive and pro-Obama, but how exactly has he disappointed? I mean, what did people want? He brought about dramatic healthcare changes, ended DADT, reduced nuclear weapons, killed OBL, saved the US (and arguably the world) economy......I could go on. Much more than most presidents do in two terms. Can someone please enlighten me as to how he was a disappointment?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I see all comments are waiting moderation, I really don't know if I can say what I feel. this looks like Censorship by big brother.I guess I'll say I'm hoping for a good change in 2012.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Stick Fork in Obama,he's done...

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    He could be chucked out but unless the GOP unites behind 1 candidate, I think Obama will be re-elected. Also, dont underestimate Obama's ability to play politics. I got a sneaking suspicion Obama will be able to keep the republicans fighting amongst themselves long enough to shore up his base and win. Something like Paul running as a 3rd party candidate would hand Obama the WH for 4 more years

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The Republican candidates are weak, boring, vulnerable and have a lot of baggage. Independent and swing voters will be forced to conclude that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know. Advantage Obama.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    It is abundantly clear from the beligerent rhetoric of both president Obama and the Republican field of candidates that in 2012 Iran may be 'doomed'. All of them have obscenely promised near anihilation of that country as a bid for the Jewish vote in 2012. Obama on New Years Eve has imposed harsher sanctions on Iran. It's the build up to another Iraq. American politics is disgustingly servile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I don't know if Obama is doomed in 2012, but the United States is doomed if he is re-elected. His insistence on redistributing the wealth rather than increasing the wealth has us on the same path so badly followed by the European Union. The perils of electing a "community organizer".

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    If you read his books, Obama was very clear about who he was. A center right technocrat. Some people read the packaging and thought they were getting something else. And so it goes.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I agree, this is a toss up. If we had some decent Republican candidates then Obama would probably be out. However, with these candidates I seriously hope Obama is reelected. I think he may have learned a few things from this circus we call 112th Congress. Also, it's sad when the Republican candidate most likely to beat him changes his mind to fit the flavor of the week.


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