, Salem, MA

Election Forum

October 6, 2012

Shribman: Rosy scenarios

Had enough? Not of the candidates, the Congress or election coverage, though who could blame you if you have? Instead: Had enough of the negativism?

Voters on the left have spent the last month moaning about the negative ads underwritten by Super PACs created by the Citizens United ruling. Voters on the right have spent weeks complaining about the negative portrayal of former Gov. Mitt Romney by what they say is a liberal-leaning news media. But the real disgraces are the negative fusillades being fired by the candidates themselves.

So with just a month of campaigning and two presidential debates remaining, let’s abandon all that and put on rose-colored glasses. Let’s forget the negative images and our darkest forebodings and look for once at best-case scenarios. They might tell us something important. They might even, in a political year with few undecided voters, change some minds.

The case for Obama

A re-elected Barack Obama would surge with confidence, not the faux self-assurance in which a deeply inexperienced man bathed in 2009, but confidence in the knowledge that his election wasn’t a fluke or a national act of cleansing that voters hoped would wash away centuries of racial oppression and prejudice.

A re-elected President Obama also would feel pressure unusual for a second-term chief executive, most of whom immediately begin to worry about their place in history. Obama’s place in history was assured on Election Day 2008 — as a pioneer. Now he has to win a place in history — as a successful president. Big difference.

This is no easy task in any political atmosphere, but it’s especially daunting in today’s poisonous one.

For our purposes, let’s assume Obama’s re-election keeps the Democrats in power in the Senate and the Republicans in the House. So the capital on Jan. 20, 2013, is riven in two ways — the usual tensions between a president and the Congress and the additional tensions between congressional chambers controlled by rival parties.

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