Sunday July 8th, 2012
We are now entering what is often the silly season of an American presidential election campaign. We now know for certain who the presidential candidates will be - yet we’re nearly two months away from the nominating conventions. (The Republicans are convening in
beginning the week of August 27th. The Democrats will gather in Tampa, Florida the week of September 3rd.) Charlotte, North
Of course the campaign doesn’t stop for a two month summer break. And the bombardment of broadcast campaign ads will continue. But it’s generally accepted that most Americans will not be hanging on every word the candidates speak in this period. That focus usually begins with the conventions and becomes more intense during the final two months until Election Day, Tuesday November 6th. So some subtle changes occur during the summer months.
The candidates themselves try to take a little down time and key campaign staffers take short breaks to freshen up for the final fall sprint. So too do some of the big names in the national news media, along with senior editors. Inevitably, with the second string at work, some mistakes are made. And while the replacement boys and girls on the campaign bus are simply trying to prove themselves professionally, in the dearth of real news, so called “controversies” very often get magnified. These pseudo stories are easily identified and rarely last more than one news cycle - although candidates on vacation must guard against the silly photo that can have lasting negative impact. (Think John Kerry windsurfing in his skintight wetsuit.)
However this doesn’t mean nothing important is going to happen in the presidential race during the dog days of summer. As someone who watches the campaign with more than casual interest, I have my list of “game changing” events which might well determine the outcome of the election- or at very least, be big enough to upset much of the conventional wisdom. One of the items on my list has already occurred, namely, the Supreme Court decision that the Affordable Care Act was indeed constitutional.
I believed that if the Court found even a portion of President Barack Obama’s most significant legislative accomplishment to be in violation of the Constitution, that would tip the scales in favor of Governor Mitt Romney. I could picture the Republicans and their multi-million dollar Super Pacs (financed by ultra-conservative billionaires thanks to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision) deluging the airwaves with ads mocking Obama – the professor of constitutional law - for trying to foist an unconstitutional program upon the American people. It remains to be seen how important Health Care will be as a campaign issue. But in my view, Chief Justice John Roberts’ unexpected yes vote very likely saved Obama from defeat in November.
My second potential game changer is the collapse of the European economic union which uses the Euro as its common currency. Because the European Union is
America’s largest trading partner, and because
banks are holding big chunks of European debt, the break-up of the Euro- zone
would have major impact here. If it were to happen before the presidential
election, that would be bad news for the president. In reality, the power of
the American presidency over European economic policy is slim to none. But the
Republicans would be eager to add a new global recession to the top of the list
of failures of Obama’s management of the economy - and that would certainly
strengthen Romney’s hand. U.S.
But my most important potential game changer between now and November is an Israeli attack on
facilities. And this has become more likely because the diplomatic effort to
to curb its nuclear ambitions has faltered. The series of talks between Iran Iran and the five permanent members of the UN
Security Council plus Germany
have stalled over ’s
claim of the legal right to reprocess its uranium to a level of 20 percent
which is a relatively short step from nuclear weapons grade. And in spite of
sanctions on its oil industry which a few days ago Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
called the most onerous in history, he insisted they would not affect Iran ’s
nuclear plans. Iran
If the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should decide that all this means both diplomacy and sanctions have failed to halt
In fact, if the Israelis do attack
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