If only (a) the Republicans had not blocked John McCain's climate policy and Rick Perry's immigration policy, (b) Obama had adopted Cameron-Osborne-Clegg fiscal policy in 2010, (c ) Obama had played more golf with more people, and (d) Obama did not look at Wall Street funny--well, then the Economist would think he was the perfect president!
A man who once personified hope and centrism set a new low by unleashing attacks on Mitt Romney even before the first Republican primary. Yet elections are about choosing somebody to run a country…. On that basis, the Democrat narrowly deserves to be re-elected….
On the economy, the most powerful argument in his favour is simply that he stopped it all being a lot worse…. That is a hard message to sell on the doorstep when growth is sluggish and jobs scarce; but it will win Mr Obama some plaudits from history, and it does from us too.
Two other things count, on balance, in his favour. One is foreign policy…. The other qualified achievement is health reform… but Mr Obama did very little to deal with the system’s other flaw—its huge and unaffordable costs…. As with the gargantuan Dodd-Frank reform of Wall Street, Obamacare has generated a tangle of red tape—and left business to deal with it all.
It is here that our doubts about Mr Obama set in. No administration in many decades has had such a poor appreciation of commerce…. The obstructive Republicans in Congress have certainly been a convenient excuse for many of the president’s failures, but he must also shoulder some blame. Mr Obama spends regrettably little time buttering up people who disagree with him….
Above all, Mr Obama has shown no readiness to tackle the main domestic issue confronting the next president: America cannot continue to tax like a small government but spend like a big one…
Mr Obama’s shortcomings have left ample room for a pragmatic Republican…. This newspaper would vote for that Mitt Romney, just as it would for the Romney who ran Democratic Massachusetts in a bipartisan way (even pioneering the blueprint for Obamacare). The problem is that there are a lot of Romneys and they have committed themselves to a lot of dangerous things…. Mr Romney’s more sensible supporters explain his fiscal policies away as necessary rubbish, concocted to persuade the fanatics who vote in the Republican primaries: the great flipflopper, they maintain, does not mean a word of it…. [But w]hen politicians get elected they tend to do quite a lot of the things they promised during their campaigns….
[T]he Republicans have become a party of Torquemadas, forcing representatives to sign pledges never to raise taxes, to dump the chairman of the Federal Reserve and to embrace an ever more Southern-fried approach to social policy. Under President Romney, new conservative Supreme Court justices would try to overturn Roe v Wade, returning abortion policy to the states. The rights of immigrants (who have hardly had a good deal under Mr Obama) and gays (who have) would also come under threat…. Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says. That is not a convincing pitch for a chief executive. And for all his shortcomings, Mr Obama has dragged America’s economy back from the brink of disaster, and has made a decent fist of foreign policy. So this newspaper would stick with the devil it knows, and re-elect him.