With gasoline prices climbing back up toward $4 a gallon, the President's health care reform in troubled constitutional waters, and job growth underperforming even the most pessimistic forecasts in the third year of an anemic economic expansion, no one should be surprised if the President's reelection team would like to change the subject. This year, "It's the economy, stupid" will likely not be the mantra for the Democratic presidential candidate as it was for Bill Clinton in 1992.
The differences are, of course, obvious. Clinton in '92 was the challenger, and the depressed housing market and other woes of a faltering economy were the albatross around the neck of the incumbent, Republican George H.W. Bush. Then, too, Clinton, the Governor of Arkansas, had no foreign policy record to run on. Indeed, his foreign policy résumé was so thin that Republicans liked to say his experience consisted mainly of frequent visits to the International House of Pancakes.
Strangely enough, it was just four years ago that Republicans and Democrat Hillary Clinton, now the Secretary of State, were saying much the same about freshman U.S. Senator and former community organizer Barack Obama. But in less than three and half years, the President has amply demonstrated that the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded him within weeks of his taking office, has not deterred him from a robust prosecution of the international "war on terror," the hunting down and slaying of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and a "humanitarian intervention" and aerial bombardment in Libya that resulted in the ouster and death of longtime American nemesis Moammar Gadhafi. And the early indications are that in a campaign against likely Republican rival Mitt Romney, Obama will be brandishing his foreign policy and national security record against Republican charges that he is weak in confronting America's enemies and defending U.S. interests abroad.
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