Obamacare & Iraq War – Is Barack Obama a Mirror Image of George W. Bush?

Our education is Mathematics, our vocation is Global Macro and our passion is Cinema. Pattern recognition is common to these three disciplines, an eye to see a similar pattern in visibly different things.

Back in May 2008 we wrote an article in another forum titled Is Barack Obama a mirror image of George W. Bush? That sounded ludicrous back then. After all, Candidate Obama got elected to a large extent because the American people wanted to turn away from the Bush Presidency. That is classic micro – the visible collection of symptoms & physical evidence.

As we wrote in our May 2008 article,

  • “Stand in front of a mirror and what do you notice? Your right becomes your mirror image’s left. … [but] you share the same face and the same approach with your mirror image.”

Or as we wrote in our November 2012 article,

  • “These [mirror images] are diametrically opposite in their orientation. A mirror turns right into left and left into right. But the mirror also shows the inherent identity that goes beyond orientation.”

That is the difference between a micro picture and a macro viewpoint – the difference that leads to the old proverb about missing the forest for the trees.

In our comparison of Candidates Bush & Obama in our May 2008 article, we asked readers to consider:

  • “Candidates Obama and Bush campaigned as uniters … both candidates promised to heal the country … both candidates promised real change and a return on honor to America … both candidates avoided providing any real details about their plans and shied away from any discussion of real experience … They were [both] comfortable in their own skin and remained steadfast to their campaign themes …”

Just as people went towards Obama in 2008 to get away from the negatives of the Bush presidency, the American people had gone towards to George W. Bush in 2000 to get away from the moral negatives of Bill Clinton. Remember the efforts of Candidate Gore to convince the American voters that his morals were radically different from President Clinton? Remember Al Gore kissing his wife on the stage after his nomination, a genuine heartfelt and deliberate message?

                                                                       (courtesy – Politico; AP Photo)

The events of the past five years seem to bear out our macro thesis of mirror images. 

1. 2012 & 2004 Conventions; Barack Obama & George W. Bush

As we wrote on September 8, 2012,

  • “There was no attempt [in the 2012 Democratic Convention] to broaden the message, no attempt to reach out to the independents or moderate Republicans. Obama-Biden didn’t care. They simply wanted to solidify their base. So they fudged facts and blithely invented new ones. They tried to scare their base into believing the worst about the Romney-Ryan ticket.”
  • “That was the strategy of George W. Bush and his architect Karl Rove in 2004. The 2004 campaign made no attempt to woo independents. They simply relied on exciting the base and on their ground game. They created issues in critical states that drove their base to the polls.” 
  • “The 2004 Republican campaign was run on the message to the Republican base that George W. Bush was their guy and that he will govern for them. The 2012 Democratic campaign is being run on the message to the Democratic base that Barack Obama is their man and that he will govern for them.”
  • “They say that Barack Obama wanted to be a Democratic Ronald Reagan. But he is really a Democratic mirror image of the Republican George W. Bush. At least, that is how the 2012 Democratic campaign is being run.”

2. Immediate Aftermath of the 2012 & 2004 Elections

We wrote on November 10, 2012,

  • “Remember the quote “I have political capital” from the first press conference of President
    Bush after his victory in 2004?  That belief turned out to be both false and a major
    political mistake. Rather than work together with the Democrats, President Bush tried to use
    his victory to browbeat them into following his agenda. We know how that turned out.”
  • “President Obama acted like the mirror image of President Bush in his post-election
    announcement on Friday. Like President Bush, President Obama claimed a mandate and
    essentially told the Republicans to fall in line with his agenda. Later the White House put
    out a terse threat of a Presidential Veto of any bill that extends the current tax rates for
    people earning more than $250,000.”
  • “We hope President Obama learns from President Clinton and pivots to the center as Clinton did in 1996. If not, the next two years might end up becoming the mirror image of Bush 2004-2006.”

3. Mirror Image – One Year Later

A micro view was published by Eric Pfeiffer in his article Five years in, Obama and Bush poll numbers nearly identical:

  • “But for all their political differences, it turns out the American public pretty much view the two men in the same light, according to new polling data. In the first week of November in the fifth year of their presidencies, Obama and Bush have nearly identical approval numbers, according to the latest Gallup polling. … Obama has experienced a nearly identical polling drop as Bush, falling a statistically identical 13 points from his approval ratings of 52 percent on election day in November, 2012″


                                       (courtesy yahoo.com – infograph by Gordon Donovan/Yahoo News)

Mr. Pfeiffer’s article is entirely a micro view of symptoms as his phrase “for all their political differences” demonstrates. 

4. Obamacare & Iraq War

The Bush presidency was marked by memorable events. Nothing changed America and the American homeland as did the September 11, 2001 attacks by Osama Bin Laden & Al-Qaida. That led to the  intervention in Afghanistan and the global war on terror. Just as momentous was the credit bubble and its bust in the fall of 2008.  Despite these events that changed America, the 2003 war against Iraq will be remembered as the defining act of President George W. Bush.

In contrast, President Obama’s tenure has been relatively quiet without any crisis. No one knows what might happen in the remaining three years. But there is no doubt that Obamacare is so far the absolute defining act of the Obama Presidency.

Both were passionate decisions that were passed by the two Presidents primarily due to the support from their political bases & on the strength of their congressional majorities. Both decisions were stridently protested by the opposing political bases who remain virulently opposed. Both decisions, it is clear now, were taken without any serious consideration of either implementation or consequences. There was no thought given to alternative methods or actions that might have achieved much of the same underlying objectives without the same risks. There was no attempt at all to consult with party in opposition to create a bipartisan solution. Both Presidents & their bases were and remain passionately confident in the moral imperative of their course.

The Iraq war became a huge mess by December 2005. We are now, in December 2013, living through the mess that Obamacare has become. The Iraq mess continued to plague President Bush through out 2006 which resulted in the Democratic Party capturing both the Senate and the House. Will Obamacare continue to be a mess through out 2014 and will that mess lead to a similar victory for Republicans in the 2014 mid term elections? If it does, it will serve as another confirmation of our Bush-Obama mirror image thesis.

Frankly, we are more interested in what follows after the 2014 elections. President Bush withstood enormous pressure from the Democrats & even from the American people who wanted out of Iraq. He did not merely hold his ground. Instead, in early 2007, President Bush announced what is now known as the “Surge” in Iraq under the leadership of General Petraeus. This surge plan was derided and opposed bitterly by the Democrat-controlled Congress. But that surge ended up working better than anyone’s expectations and Iraq stabilized.

This brings us to President Obama and Obamacare. How will President Obama act in 2014 & 2015? Will he support Obamacare through out 2014  even at the risk of Democrats losing the Senate next November? Will he come up with a double-down type of plan like the Iraq surge even if Republicans take back the Senate & keep the House? Will he appoint a smart unconventional leader like General Petraeus to lead a double-down on Obamacare? Will he remain as morally confident & politically defiant as President Bush in 2007?

The Iraq war was way out there in the middle east. Obamacare is in America. The mistakes in Iraq have not and will not lead to any major impact on American economy or society. Obamacare has a major impact on America’s healthcare which accounts for 17% of the American economy. Obamacare affects American society in a material way and it has the potential to change healthcare practices of American Companies & their employees to an unprecedented extent. 

How President Obama fights for his cherished Obamacare in 2014 & 2015 will be the final determinant of whether he is a mirror image of President Bush or not.

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