Despite the fact that leading polls continue to indicate a close Presidential election, and point to the very real chance of an upset victory for the McCain-Palin ticket, too many conservatives have begun to embrace a bizarre form of defeatism. According to this destructive logic, a Republican defeat in 2008 counts as not only inevitable, but necessary; some disgruntled voices on the right argue that a decisive win for Barack Obama might actually help the conservative cause in the long run.
This notion contradicts both common sense and historical precedent and rests on five deeply damaging and ultimately demented myths.
MYTH #1: If Obama gets elected, his extreme liberalism will make him a one term president
TRUTH: Whoever is elected in 2008, will almost certainly win re-election in 2012--the business cycle will inevitably allow him to preside over “recovery”
The current financial crisis is painful and unpredictable, but no serious economist believes it will last more than four years. That means that President Obama (or, for that matter, President McCain) will be able to campaign for re-election with the claim that he arrived during “the worst economy since the Great Depression” and brought America back to prosperity and growth. If the next President handles our economic challenges with skill and wisdom, we will likely see the beginnings of recovery by the end of 2009 or early in 2010. If the new chief executive responds in a clumsy, misguided manner (with a heavier tax burden and more government spending, for instance) it could delay the inevitable comeback till 2011 or even 2012. Of course, a recovery that begins in 2012 (a likely development under Obama) would leave the incumbent perfectly situated for a landslide re-election.
In American politics, incumbent presidents almost always win re-election. Even Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, despite angrily alienating big segments of the public, won solid re-election victories –in part, because of the healthy economic conditions at the time of their campaigns. In the last 75 years, White House incumbents have run for re-election thirteen times, and ten of those times they’ve won. The only losers limited to one term (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush) suffered from tough economic circumstances and spirited primary challenges in their own parties (from Ronald Reagan, Ted Kennedy, and Pat Buchanan, respectively). If Obama wins in November, there’s little chance he’ll face either economic hardship or opposition from a fellow Democrat. In other words, he’s a sure winner for re-election.
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