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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Column: Obummer

Team Obama is probably beginning to sweat by now (assuming they haven’t already been doing so for months). The president needs strong job growth reports from now until Election Day, and the latest numbers on newly created jobs (115,000 for the month of April) are simply not going to cut it.

Regardless of whether it is his fault, voters are tired of waiting for the economy to return to normalcy. The man who four years ago attracted swooning crowds, a commanding electoral victory and a 70 percent approval rating upon taking office is headed toward a loss this November. Worse, it would be a loss to Mitt Romney, the say-anything Republican nominee who has flipped, flopped and rolled his way into the Republican nomination on the back of a nominating process filled with pathetically inept and shockingly backward competition (cough Rick Perry cough).

Yet Romney might not be the only person on the ballot who has been willing to say anything to get elected. Obama wanted to win in 2008, and if it took a field of broken promises to do so, then so be it. Remember closing Guantanamo Bay? Or his promise to raise the federal minimum wage? Apparently that was change he forgot about.

If Team O is going to score a deuce, then they are going to need the full coalition that propelled Obama to victory last time. This includes young voters, minorities and gays. Well, it seems like Obama and Co. assumed that these groups would vote for him again, regardless of what went down. So they were ignored. Sure, work was done on the margins, and occasionally it was even significant. The repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is a good example.

There are, however, some gaping broken promises that could end up derailing the president’s dream of a second term. Take the issue of immigration. He specifically promised a comprehensive immigration bill during his first year. What happened? Nothing. Needless to say, minority advocates were outraged.

Another big promise broken was his pledge to extend the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to include discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity. This was a very big issue in the gay community — a community that also happened to be one of his biggest fundraisers last round. Yeah, that did not happen. Whoops.

You do not have to go far to find stories about groups who were made promises by Obama in 2008, only to be disappointed and let down. They can be found right here on this campus.

Last Monday, the Armenian Student Association held a several-hours-long demonstration in front of the MU to commemorate the Armenian genocide. As much as 75 percent of the population was massacred between 1915 to 1923. It was and is horrific to contemplate. Nearly 100 years later, the genocide still stands as the pivotal event in Armenian consciousness.

I spoke with Raffi Dadain, one of the students involved with the demonstration. He pointed out that most nations still do not recognize the genocide for what it was — genocide. This includes our country. Yet he and other Armenians held hope that this would change under Obama. Why? Because he promised to do so.

Yet the president has reneged on this promise. This has prompted a furious response from the Armenian community. Raffi said that he worked as a volunteer for the Obama campaign last time. But this time, he is going to sit it out. The letdown from Obama’s broken promise is too much.

Worse, the White House releases a letter each year to commemorate the genocide, except that they never actually use the word “genocide.” It is a slap in the face to the Armenian community, and it is going to cost him desperately needed votes.

If the President does indeed lose on Nov. 4, post-mortem analysis will revolve around several issues. Yes, the economy will be the main issue. But the anger and letdown of Obama’s old coalition will also be a big factor. It remains to be seen whether the pain of a broken promise is greater than the notion of what would be akin to the second coming of Bush. The choice will be between a candidate who lied and a candidate who is probably listed in the dictionary under the word “flip-flopper.”

Regardless, this year’s election is shaping up to be an ugly, depressing affair. What an Obummer.

It’s surprisingly enjoyable making puns off of Obama’s name. Send JONATHAN NELSON yours at jdnelson@ucdavis.edu.

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