Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Encore Obama or Millionaire Mitt?

If the bible states it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, then Mitt Romney’s $200 million may not get him past the pearly gates, but his odds look better on the White House.

If he were to wake up on Wednesday as the next incumbent of the Oval Office, Governor Romney would become the second richest American President of all time, after George Washington. The first US President’s plentiful prosperity came courtesy of the family business, a wholesome blend of tobacco and slavery, and what he didn’t have by birth, he married into. Whilst slavery seems thankfully absent from the Romney portfolio, tobacco is certainly not. He was CEO of Bain & Co, the consultancy that turned around Marlboro’s flagging fortunes, forcing the price war which repaired the balance sheet of parent company Philip Morris. Who knows, maybe he can do for the world’s biggest economy what he did for one of the world’s biggest killers?

Much political capital has naturally been made of the campaign promises on which Obama has yet to deliver. US troops left Iraq, but have yet to fully discharge their duties in Afghanistan. Despite signing an executive order to effect its closure, Guantanamo Bay is still very much open for business. The Democrat dream of health coverage for the uninsured was duly delivered, Osama Bin Laden was caught and killed, but global warming legislation predictably ran into a Republican road-block in the Senate. However, to negate Obama’s achievements is to forget both the depth of the depression he inherited, and the apparent absence of bipartisan potential in Washington. Indeed, warm praise for the President’s efforts in the aftermath of storm Sandy from Republican Governor Chris Christie raised eyebrows on both sides of the Senate.

If the Sunday papers were anything to go by, Barack Obama would be a shoe-in for a second term if the ballot was based on this side of the pond. Even right wing newspapers in the UK have not been able to bring themselves to endorse Mitt Romney, preferring to view another four years of Obama as the safest dish on a dodgy menu. Across the Atlantic most states seem to stick to historical allegiances, with the outcome of only the half dozen “swing states” considered genuinely up for grabs. The beleaguered residents of these battlegrounds have therefore been campaigned at to within an inch of their lives by both presidential candidates and their armies of ardent affiliates, and now 24 hours should tell the tale.

Barack Obama was elected on the promise of change and a wave of hope that has now admittedly broken. Mitt Romney famously said of fires in aeroplanes that “you can’t find oxygen from outside the aircraft...because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that.” One might say that America would be in better shape if Obama’s actions could have matched his message, but imagine the mess if Romney was given the power to put his reasoning into practice.  

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