There are literally umpteen thousand quotes on the Internet about “expectations” and any one of them explains outright why Barack Obama will lose the upcoming election.
Let’s start with Alexander Pope: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” I wager the Obama enthusiast from 2008 opining on the magical government checkbook sent forth to pay for her gas and mortgage is a little bit disappointed. Obama may have bought the auto industry outright and bailed out Freddie Mac but he hasn’t really gotten around to divvying out free gas and mortgages – yet.
Let’s hearken back to Epictetus: “People are disturbed not by things, but by the view they take of them.” The infamous White House stimulus jobs graph showing unemployment falling under the weight of massive green and deliciously subsidized government gigs leaves much to be desired as the inverse chart presents a more accurate picture of the current day job market.
Modern-day writer Robert Jordan describes a character in his graphic novel New Spring: “He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.” Speaking of drowning in seas – upon winning the Democratic nomination Obama promised to literally slow the rise of the oceans. Preceding this Moses-like moment, Obama declared that he would “face this challenge with profound humility.” Nothing says humility like defeating anthropomorphic global warming with a single speech.
Let’s throw in some Samuel P. Huntington for good measure here: “Expectations should not always be taken as reality; because you never know when you will be disappointed.” This quote could easily be used to pile on any number of shattered expectations during the Obama administration: dismal jobs recovery; massive debt accrual; wasted political capital on Obamacare; racial divisiveness; stimulus fraud; and the like. And that’s just the complaints from the Right.
The Left has an equal number of grievances including upholding the Bush tax cuts; not closing Guantanamo; an Obamacare that didn’t do enough; lack of immigration reform… the list goes on. Across the political spectrum Obama is suffering the results of high expectations failure.
Let’s get serious. Time for some Peter Drucker: “Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.” It seems Obama did not have the toolset to gauge what can be promised and what can be delivered. No doubt Romney studied Drucker and today he has no expectations handicap. Indeed, it seems that Romney makes a point of setting expectations low. Republicans certainly didn’t expect much of him, liberals expect much less, and Romney is in no hurry to correct those biases. Setting the bar low and clearing it handily is always better than knocking the bar down outright.