President Obama's Premature Victory Lap

Tuesday, 07 Jun 2011 03:21 PM

By Jon Friedman

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There is a strange feeling in the air regarding politics these days. Can you feel it?

It is as if the nation believes it is a fait accompli that President Barack Obama will be re-elected.

To his followers, this is wonderful news, further vindication that an African-American president can be embraced by the electorate for his ideas and intellect.

To Obama's detractors, though, it is a reason to shuffle through the 2012 election process, listless and lost. They practically concede the election now, about a year and a half in advance.

But what if . . .

What if the economy turns south or the nation comes under attack by a terrorist? The shining memory of Obama's greatest accomplishment to date — finding and wiping out Osama bin Laden — will be in danger of becoming merely a speck on the horizon.

It has happened before. When President George H.W. Bush looked so dashing in the wake of Desert Storm in 1991, he seemed unbeatable. But upstart Bill Clinton took Bush out in a scene that reminded me of how Muhammad Ali took away Sonny Liston's heavyweight boxing title in 1964 — by taking the fight right out of the champion until all he could do was stay slumped on his stool and give up the battle altogether.

I suspect that President Obama is a keen student of history and too smart to believe his press clippings. And if he happened to lapse into self-immortalizing for a moment, his strong, influential wife Michelle would be present to remind him of the pitfalls of taking a victory lap before the race has ended.

So, there is a lesson here for us all, regardless of our political beliefs. To the good people of the right, don't give up the fight. And for the Obama supporters, wait until you win the game before you start dancing in the end zone.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for MarketWatch.com. Click here to read his latest column.









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