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Does Barack Obama deserve a second chance?

November 05, 2012 17:49 IST

Rediff.com's Bikash Mohapatra, who is covering the US presidential elections, finds out what experts are saying about President Barack Obama's chances of a re-election.

Four years back he won using the themes of 'hope' and 'change,' and phrases – such as 'yes, we can' -- a strategy which proved to be a masterstroke with voters disgruntled with the policies of the incumbent (George W Bush).

He took over as the President of the United States when the country was going through its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

In his first tenure things have definitely improved, but are far from over. No wonder there are divergent opinions among Americans when it comes to assessing the Democrat's first term in charge, with some believing he has altogether failed to deliver, and others content with the fact that he has at least tried.

This poses a couple of questions even as America goes to the polls on Tuesday. Does Barack Obama deserve a second chance? Has he done enough in his first stint?

"Obama is a competent President," analyses political expert Seth McKee, adding, "When he has a problem, he effectively deals with it."

"More importantly, he wasn't a rigid President during his first term," he adds. There are many who concur with this assessment.

"Obama's transparency is appreciated by the people," affirms Justin Day, director of the advocacy group. Coming to these elections, Obama has used 'forward' as his slogan, but not many are convinced.

For Obama's efforts on getting the economy back on track, arresting the high rate of unemployment and tax policies haven't gone down well with peers and the people at large.

"This election is about saving our country and making it the force it was. We know what four more years of Obama would be like," opines Dick Greco, a Democrat who has more often than not tilted in favour of the Republicans.

If opinions of the general public are to be taken into account, Obama has clearly not managed to find a permanent solution to America's woes, something that doesn't hold him in good stead.

"I, despite being a Republican, voted for Obama in the last elections. But honestly, he has let me down. What he promised didn't happen," laments Brian, a businessman who is yet to get his business back on track.

"Obama has failed us. America clearly understands another four years with him as President would do the country no good," echoes Chris, another entrepreneur hit hard by the crisis. The Republicans have palpably taken advantage of this sentiment and wasted no opportunity to attack Obama's negative record when it comes to the economy. Experts though are far more pragmatic in their assessment.

"Obama should know that his biggest mistake as President was that healthcare should have been clearly secondary to doing what had to be done towards turning the economy around," analyses McKee.

"Having said that, I would also add that despite of that initial mistake, many would give him credit as a guy who when he makes a mistake learns from it so that he can adjust," he adds.

While campaigning for Obama former President Bill Clinton did admit not every promise had been fulfilled.

"Nobody could have repaired all the damage in just four years," he said, adding, "Obama has got better plans for the future and we as a country need to look forward." There are many who are willing to give the incumbent a second chance.

"I think Obama deserves another four years," says Dave Bernstein, a veteran politician. "I'm happy with the work he has done so far and am confident he will carry forward the good work." There are others who offer a more pragmatic explanation.

"This is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression for god's sake," points out McKee, adding, "The crisis is deep and to expect changes in just four years is absurd.

"And at some stage it's laughable when Republicans demand his (Obama's) ouster. Moreover, a change in leadership won't necessarily mean an early and permanent resolution of the problems we are facing." 

Having heard out both the sides, it is clear that America doesn't hold it against Obama. Having said that, many aren't exactly convinced his efforts during his initial tenure. They appreciate his effort but aren't exactly enthused by the overall result.

And it is this indecisiveness that has made Obama's re-election bid something to watch out for.
Bikash Mohapatra