President Obama

*The initial post mortem flowing out of last Tuesday’s election results in Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Arkansas was that President Obama had lost his luster and that the Democrats faced major defeats in this November’s off-year elections.

The initial assessment was an exaggeration. The results were much more mixed signaling worries for incumbents of both parties.

Voters appeared generally upset and that is bad news for politicians currently holding office be they Democrat or Republican.

The only group that may have something to cheer about is the super conservative (some say racist) Tea Party Movement. However, Tea Party victories are coming at the expense of Republicans as the movement pushes far right-wing candidates.

Indeed, many Democrats welcomed the victory of Rand Paul in the Republican Party primary for Kentucky’s U.S. Senate seat. Paul’s victory was over the Republican Party establishment’s candidate and signals the ability of the Tea Party to elect right-wing candidates.  It does not necessarily mean voters are abandoning Democrats in favor of Republicans. Instead, it suggests Republicans are abandoning moderate Republicans in favor of more conservative Republicans.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Republicans were saying they would capture late Representative John Murtha’s former seat and that would pave the way for them to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November. But it did not happen. Democrats held onto the seat and clearly slowed the momentum of Republican conservatives.

Now, Senator Blanche Lincoln should not have been forced into a runoff in Arkansas and they face a potential defeat there. Obama’s reputation was also damaged by the failure of Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter to win in Pennsylvania. Obama had embraced Specter when he switched parties. Voters appeared to have ignored that embrace. Nevertheless, Specter’s lost came to another Democrat. Obama was hurt because he backed the wrong Democrat.

Again, the ongoing recession, high unemployment rates and fears related to ever-rising federal budget deficits have turned voters against incumbents. They are clearly looking for people who are not part of the Washington establishment to put into office. But Obama and the Democrats can avoid election disaster in November by focusing on a few key areas:

#1 – Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Voters must feel the economy is turning around and they are benefitting not just the major corporations which have been bailed out with billions in taxpayers’ money.

#2 – Keep the verbal and regulatory heat on major corporations and banks. The stated purpose of the billions in bailouts given these firms was to stimulate business activity and jobs by given the firms resources with which to provide loans and hire people. This has not happened. The banks kept the money, improved their own bottom lines and increased their bonuses. Obama’s current tough talk against Wall Street must be increased and some of these firms need to be punished.

#3 – End the God-forsaken wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These misguided adventures are costing us tens of billions of dollars which could more appropriately be spent to put Americans to work not war. Further, do not start a war with Iran. Even if it gets a nuclear weapon (although there is no proof that it is trying) Iran with one nuclear weapon is no threat to America which is estimated to have 10,000 nuclear warheads.

In other words, President Obama and the Democrats must live up to their campaign promises if they expect success in November and re-election in 2012.

[Robert Taylor welcomes responses to his commentaries. Share your views with him at or leave a brief message at 202-657-8872.]