America's politics is particularly bad in the Obama years. In the Bush years, you could at least say that a large minority of the country was engaged with reality, and had a coherent response to the majority. Now?
What would a coherent opposition to Obama look like? It would begin with a concerted attack on his civil liberties policies, war-making, and assumption of executive powers -- in all respects, his policies are worse than Bush's. It would continue with his failure to do anything on critical parts of his agenda, such as global warming, in which his failure makes the U.S. not a leader but one of a few laggard nations that run a real risk of causing global failure to do anything about the problem. It would certainly include his failure to bring the U.S. up to First-World standards for unionization and health care, areas in which he not only failed the citizenry in general but more particularly and directly sabotaged his base in favor of elite interests. And it would conclude with his failure, in the face of those same interests, to bring the country back from sustained mass unemployment.
What does the actual opposition to Obama look like? It begins with questioning his birth certificate. It continues with crudely racist tracts, conspiracy theories in which he didn't really kill the enemies of the state that he said that he killed, and his supposed disinclination to torture people as much as they should be tortured to keep us safe. It claims that the science behind global warming is a fraud and that Obama's watered-down health care scheme is socialism. And it concludes with discredited Hooverite economics that would make unemployment worse -- if the proponents of it didn't succeed in making the crisis worse much more quickly by refusing to pay the government's debts.
I've written many times that Obama has been lucky in his enemies. In a declining empire, there are no good choices. But Obama is certainly preferable to outright racist craziness.
That's why Mitt Romney's candidacy is interesting. He is, as far as I know, the only major GOP candidate who isn't a global warming denier. And I was interested to see this political ad (linked to by Duncan Black). He's actually attacking Obama on unemployment. Who cares that the ad is misleading? He's going there.
The criticisms of Romney tend to be that he flip-flops and says anything that his audience wants to hear -- as far as I'm concerned, that's a necessary quality in a politician. Perhaps if Romney wins the nomination, a more serious criticism of Obama might emerge. I have no illusions about any of his policies, if elected, being any better than Obama's. They'd probably be worse. But if his narrative becomes more of the opposition narrative, instead of birtherism, global warming denialism, and crackpot Hooverism, that'll be good for what remains of the country.