Tony Blankley

Nor, since FDR, has an incumbent president been re-elected with the electorate feeling -- and with good cause -- so profoundly pessimistic about our nation's current and future economic health. (As described in the liberal Slate digital magazine by Annie Lowrey, "13.7 million Americans remain out of work. At the current rate of job growth, it would take more than a decade for the United States to get back to an unemployment rate of 5 percent. There are 6.6 million fewer Americans working today than there were three years ago. Blacks, whites, teenagers, the elderly, women, men, high-school dropouts, grad-school graduates -- every demographic group has unemployment close to historical highs. About 6 million Americans form a new pool of the long-term unemployed, whose prospects in the labor market remain very dim. ..."

"The average duration of unemployment rose to a new high of 37.1 weeks. The labor-force participation rate is at a 25-year low. Unemployment has never been so high for so long, not since the Great Depression.") And that is after the good news on employment last week.

But, at least as threatening to the president's re-election is the unfolding of foreign dangers. Governments often change their foreign policies -- but rarely does a public have the chance to observe such change so openly as we are seeing currently with the White House's Middle East "democracy" policy.

In his Cairo speech in 2009, the President seemed to be encouraging democracy. Then, when Iranians protested a phony election, there was little support for them from the administration as they were being murdered in the street.

As Egyptians started protesting this year, the White House, endorsing "democracy," was seen to quickly undercut 30-year ally Mubarak.

(By the way, over this weekend, according to the Assyrian International News Agency, -- hat tip to American Thinker -- several thousand Muslims have attacked Christian houses and places of worship in a town just 30 miles from Cairo. The fate of the clerics who worked at the church is unknown -- they may have been detained as hostages or burned to death in the fire. The violence was the result of a Christian dating a Muslim woman. I trust the mob that attacked the Christians were not part of the "democracy" crowd on whose behalf we undercut Mubarak.)

Then, when the egregious Gadhafi started shooting and dive-bombing demonstrators, the White House was very late to call for his ouster. All this policy confusion has been brutally reported in a much-commented-on Wall Street Journal article last week, "U.S. Wavers on 'Regime Change'":

"After weeks of internal debate on how to respond to uprisings in the Arab world, the Obama administration is settling on a Middle East strategy: help keep longtime allies who are willing to reform in power, even if that means the full democratic demands of their newly emboldened citizens might have to wait... the U.S. is urging protesters from Bahrain to Morocco to work with existing rulers toward what some officials and diplomats are now calling 'regime alteration,'" rather than regime change.

None of this confusion will be electorally significant for President Obama if the world does not experience badly damaging events between now and November 2012.

But, of course, at this point in Jimmy Carter's presidency (in March 1979), the Soviet Union had not yet invaded Afghanistan, and our diplomats had not yet been taken hostage in Iran. And despite a rough economy and sense of national malaise, Carter was odds on favorite to be re-elected.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

©Creators Syndicate