by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Our sagging economy has attracted most of the attention during this presidential campaign season, but Victor Davis Hanson‘s latest National Review Online column suggests the economy might not serve as the dominating factor in determining whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins in November.
Sure, the economic outlook is poor, Hanson writes, but Obama hasn’t seemed to suffer for his administration’s role in contributing to the problem. Hanson looks to some other issues that might help swing voters to the Democratic or Republican camps.
Barring some atrocious gaffe, personal scandal, or miserable debate performance, what else might break things open in the next hundred days?
Here are a few scenarios.
In the next three months, an Iranian detonation of a nuclear weapon, or a preemptive Israeli (or American) strike against Iran, could change the entire complexion of the election. If the threat is defused, Obama reminds us that he really is the guy who got bin Laden. If things blow up, then he proves another bumbling Jimmy Carter who fiddled while the Middle East burned.
Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chávez, or Kim Jong Un might time a new round of adventurism to precede the November election.
If a regional war breaks out over Syria, or Israel intervenes next door, or dangerous weapons fall into the hands of terrorists, Obama will be caricatured as a naïf in matters of the Middle East. If Assad leaves quietly and reformists take over, then Obama appears steady.
A major al-Qaeda strike, heaven forbid, on the homeland would remind us of all the crazy talk about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court, the silly politically correct euphemisms like “overseas contingency operations” and “man-caused disasters,” and promises of shutting down Guantanamo within a year of Obama’s inauguration. Continued quiet, however, would allow us to focus on Obama’s wise continuation of the Bush-era Predator-drone program, renditions, tribunals, and preventive detention.
An election that is supposed to turn on the economy may not. And in the next hundred days, an inward-looking, divided electorate may be forced to look abroad.