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Political games are hard to score

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

For the next 18 months, the national political debate will swirl with a discussion on scorecards - as if a Presidential election has some sports comparison.

The first scorecard comparison came a few months back during a discussion on unemployment. The buzz centered on an unemployment rate above 9 percent come next November. If the scorecard hit that magic number, then the odds for an Obama re-election would suffer, according to conventional wisdom.

Then came the discussion over the spiraling national debt scorecard that hovers in the $14 trillion range. If that astronomical number continues to rise, it bodes poorly for Obama's re-election efforts, so say the pundits.

And now comes the gas price scorecard. According to political logic - which may well be the true oxymoron - if gasoline pump prices remain in the $4 range when the polling precincts open for business in 2012, that too is not a good sign for an Obama re-election.

And just a brief aside, meanwhile the multiple wars in the Mideast continue to cost American lives. I'm uncertain how to fashion a scorecard on that issue.

Unemployment, debt and gasoline prices have indeed changed but not for the better. Or at least not at this point.

Sen. John McCain had a great quote this week concerning the confusing dilemma in the Mideast. McCain said that although the U.S. had hopes of change in Libya, "Hope is not a plan," which may have been a back-handed slap at his 2008 opponent.

But I digress!

I strongly suspect that unemployment, debt and gasoline prices will not improve significantly prior to the 2012 elections. We may put a few more workers on the payroll and we may tap some reserves to prop up gas prices.

But rest assured, unless some magical GOP plan somehow materializes in short order, the debt will remain at unsustainable levels.

That much is a virtual certainty.

Yet as much as I would like to "score" the 2012 elections with some understandable yardstick, I doubt these issues will control the election.

With Obama poised to raise a cool $1 billion for his re-election, the campaign will hinge on money. Not money, as in an improving economy, but money, as in campaign funds.

And in some sick and perverted way, is it not somewhat ironic that in the midst of a fumbling economy with no end in sight to runaway debt, that the election will boil down to money spent convincing you that the economy is not that bad?

I love the smell of politics in the morning!

Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen