Ever since Ronald Reagan posed the simple but clarifying query to voters — "Are you better off than you were four years ago?" — Presidential challengers have dusted off the question, hoping to use it as successfully as Reagan did. With President Barack Obama presiding over a stagnant economy, high unemployment and accelerating deficits, Gov. Mitt Romney doubtless expects this question to resonate with voters.
Yet, the answer is not uniformly negative. For many, Obama’s term has brought tremendous success. Following are just some of the big winners who would answer the are-you-better-off-today question with a resounding “Yes!”
The Iranian Regime: Within months of his inauguration, Obama was presented with a gift--a popular uprising against America’s nuclearizing nemesis, Iran. Given an assortment of options for helping topple the axis-of-evil’s charter member, he chose to do…nothing. Instead, he reiterated his support for “engagement,” throwing a lifeline to the most dangerous regime on the planet even as they butchered their own people, prompting public protests chanting, “Obama, are you with us or against us?”
Iranian nukes? Since April, 2009, this administration has boasted of “crippling sanctions” against Iran. Three years later, Iran is still no cripple: CIA Director James Clapper gave Senate testimony that, "The sanctions as imposed so far have not caused [Iran] to change their behavior or their policy." Perhaps that is the result of Obama neutering the sanctions by liberally issuing waivers and delaying implementation. Meanwhile, Iran crosses one red line after another in its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
During Obama’s term, the Iranian regime has gone from wobbly to secure. The administration remains preoccupied with ensuring no Israeli attack, though Iran has stockpiled enriched uranium sufficient for several bombs and proceeds methodically towards weaponization.
The mullahs understand who deserves credit for their improved standing.
Hezbollah. Iran’s wholly owned terror subsidiary was severely weakened by its 2006 war with Israel. Today, however, it is stronger and better armed than ever, and may soon gain access to Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. Meanwhile, while the Obama Middle East team obsesses about where Jews are building homes in Jerusalem, Hezbollah not only has gained de facto control of Lebanon, but has set up shop in 24 countries, including much of Central and South America.
The Muslim Brotherhood. What a run they’ve had. This Islamist Nazi-influenced group has advanced from troublesome subversives vaguely known to most Americans to become the dominant political force in the Middle East—all in Obama’s short tenure.
In Egypt, the Obama administration boosted the Brotherhood by abandoning longtime President Hosni Mubarak, naively hoping Jeffersonian democracy might follow. Mubarak was no saint, but he was a credible counterbalance to Islamist forces, and he upheld the Camp David peace with Israel.
Now the Brotherhood runs the most populous Arab nation, having collected 50% of the votes in last month’s election. (Their Seriously-Muslim Brotherhood Salafist allies won another 25%.) Brotherhood factions now control Egypt, Tunisia and Gaza, and are deeply involved in Jordan, the Syrian uprising and Arab uprisings throughout the region.
The Egyptians have imprisoned American pro-democracy workers, and, with their affiliate Salafists, have killed dozens of Christians, wounded hundreds of others, and caused 150,000 to flee. They’ve burned churches, and abducted Christian girls to be forced into domestic and sexual servitude.
The Obama response: more engagement. Obama hosted the Muslim Brotherhood, which vows never to recognize Israel “under any circumstances,” and announced a gift of $1.5 billion in American taxpayer dollars to the new Egyptian government. Last week, Secretary of State Clinton visited Egypt, bearing an additional $1 billion of debt relief. She also stood silently as the Egyptians explained how they did not see themselves bound by Camp David absent a (non-existent) regional peace agreement.
Hazard a guess as to which candidate has earned their support?
China. During Obama’s 3 ½ years, Chinese GDP has increased roughly 35%; the US has stagnated, averaging about 0.6% annual growth. Even more disturbing, the astronomical Chinese debt Obama has accumulated is approaching the point where US interest payments alone will equal Chinese military expenditures—at a time they are aggressively building up their military to challenge US dominance of the Pacific Ocean. This is a dynamic the Chinese would love to see continue.
Russia. Not even Czar Putin’s could have imagined that the “Reset” button gift from Obama could be used repeatedly. Yet, Russia blocks sanctions against Iran and Syria, sells Iran advanced air-defense systems, and ensures Syria is armed sufficiently to massacre its people. Russian military jets simulate bombing runs against America while violating US airspace, and Putin turns human rights back a generation. Repercussions? No, Just “Reset” again!
Obama has no Russia policy other than concession and appeasement: he unilaterally cancelled missile defense systems for our Czech and Polish allies at Putin’s command, slashed US nuclear deterrent stockpiles upgraded Russia’s WTO status--and revealingly promised the Russian leaders over an open microphone that he would be more flexible in a second term. Has America gotten anything in return?
And the list goes on--North Korea, the Taliban and Obama’s friends at Solyndra, to name just a few, are also better off today than four years ago.
Obama should expect plenty of support.
Abe Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as Counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.
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