Soon that four-year-old American girl would be able to smile again. Like millions, she too was tired of the relentless media campaign by the two presidential candidates. Her sobs that she was tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney have made her a celebrity, but for a right cause. If people have the time to discuss the issue after elections, the question may be asked whether something can be done to avoid another four-year-old’s sobs four years from now.
In fact a majority of Americans may already be wondering if the costliest campaign in American history was money well spent. Did it achieve the objective of enlightening American public about the candidates and their programmes? Between them, the Obama and Romney campaigns have spent $2.4 billion. The campaign speeches witnessed nothing like the soaring rhetoric of a Kennedy or Clinton. Obama seemed anxious that the debates should not focus on specifics; he fenced around issues.
The lofty lustre of 2008 was no longer in evidence either. Then, his youthful energy was enticing and his promise of ‘change’ exhilarating. Now, he was reduced to asking for four more years. His posters with ‘Forward’ printed on them had an exclamation mark, as if he wasn’t sure of how far forward and where to?
After his election in 2008 he had a rare chance to rewrite the national slate. America was facing a recession and the collapse of prestige abroad. A sure footed president would have faced the challenge and achieved success in confronting it. But Obama prevaricated and ultimately chose wrong. As a result manufacturing is stagnant, economy barely moves, there is hardly any fundamental shift in the banking sector and over sixty percent Americans think that their country is on the wrong track. Externally, America looks on bewildered as the picture from Benghazi to Kabul gets ever more complex.
Obama’s record so far shows that he is not one of those leaders who are steadfast in their aim and single minded in their pursuit of it. Rather, he lets the opportunity slip. Look, for instance, at the election campaign. Obama was comfortably ahead of Romney all along. The Republican candidate was so gaffe prone and unimpressive that most observers were writing off the elections as no contest. But Obama blew it in the first presidential debate. He looked defeated, deflated and almost sorry to be there; a school boy who could not score in a wide open goal.
In 2008, Obama was fortunate as Bush had left such a mess that he could ride the wave in favour of change. This time too luck came calling at his door step in shape of hurricane Sandy. The federal authorities did all the work but the credit for smooth handling during the hurricane was naturally given to Obama as the president. But having done well for those few days he got distracted. Instead of staying the course and making sure that relief and rehabilitation was glitch free, he let delays and frustration take hold. The resentment of people is building up.
Let’s see if it turns into a vote against him. Whatever be the result, it is likely that the loser will never be a presidential hopeful again. To that extent, it is a make or break election for them.
The election results are unlikely to affect relations with India. They are likely to be kept at their present holding pattern; low key and unexcitingly calm. There won’t be any dramatic turns either way. The American priorities from the relationship would continue to be; more defence purchases by India, further liberalisation of the type of FDI in retail and greater Indian alignment to the American leads in Asia.
This presidential election has been boringly unremarkable except for the negative imagery in the media blitz. The next four years are likely to produce that sense of sameness too, unless in a sudden rush of presidential blood the next incumbent decides to attack Iran. On the positive side however, there is a good chance that American people may get the economy moving. Then, the President can sit back and take all the credit.
But who will be that next president? That is tough to predict in a race as tight as this, but many polls give a slight edge to Obama. That may indeed be so and Obama may get elected. After all, Americans are known to repeat their blunders.