The case for President Obama’s reelection

The Obama administration has strongly supported Israel’s security by helping to construct the Iron Dome, by backing Israel’s responses to rocket attacks from Gaza and by coordinating closely with its military.

By ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ
October 30, 2012 20:33
4 minute read.
Dershowitz with Obama in oval office

Dershowitz with Obama in oval office. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The case for the reelection of President Barack Obama is compelling for several important reasons.

Let me begin with our future and the future of our children. The composition of the US Supreme Court over the next 30 years may be decided during the next four years. There are now three justices who will turn 80 and one who will be close to 80 during this coming presidential term.

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The remaining justices – including conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito – are relatively young. Whoever is elected the next president may get to appoint as many as four justices in their 40s or 50s. These justices may well serve 30 or more years on the High Court, and if they are as reactionary as the current young justices, will form a firm and long lasting majority.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has said that he would fill the Supreme Court vacancies with justices like Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. A court with such a right-wing majority will change America for the worse. It will dismantle the wall of separation between church and state and embolden those who seek to Christianize America. It will eliminate a woman’s right to chose abortion and will set back the trend toward equality for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation. It will continue to strike down progressive legislation, such as gun control, campaign reform and laws protecting the rights of minorities.

Few Americans, as a matter of history, vote on the basis of who will be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court and other federal courts. More should do so because our third branch of government is every bit as important as the first two branches and has considerable influence on the lives and liberties of Americans. The case for Barack Obama includes his record in appointing moderates rather than right-wing ideologues to the judiciary, and most especially to the Supreme Court.

The case for Barack Obama also includes his approach to foreign policy, which has improved the standing of America around the world. Under the Bush administration many of the US’s strongest allies became alienated by America’s unilateralism. The Obama administration has worked closely with our allies to impose the harshest possible sanctions on Iran, to depose Muammar Gaddafi and to help keep the Arab Spring from turning into an extremist Muslim winter.

President Obama also succeeded in killing Osama bin Laden and crippling al- Qaida. It is clearly a work in progress but it is moving in the right direction.

With regards to Iran, which poses the most immediate threat to the security of the United States and its allies, most especially Israel, the policy of the Obama administration is crystal clear: It has taken containment off the table and kept the military option on the table. Everyone hopes that the military option will not have to be employed, since it would entail considerable loss of life, especially among Israeli civilians who would be targeted by Hezbollah rockets fired in retaliation against any attack on Iran.

But the best way to avoid the need for military action is for the Iranian mullahs to believe that the United States will never allow them to develop nuclear weapons. If they believe that reality then the pain of the sanctions will pressure them to give up their nuclear ambitions. President Obama has clearly stated that he is not bluffing when he says that his administration will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. A secondterm president generally has more credibility than a firstterm president when it comes to threatening military action.


The Obama administration has strongly supported Israel’s security by helping to construct the Iron Dome anti-rocket system, by backing Israel’s responses to rocket attacks from Gaza and by coordinating closely with its military.

When it comes to reenergizing the moribund peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, Romney has said that he would do nothing other than kick the can down the road.

President Obama, on the other hand, would almost certainly try to bring the parties together to achieve a two-state solution that guaranteed Israel’s security while allowing the Palestinians to govern themselves.

Finally, the case for Obama’s reelection should focus heavily on how much better the US economy is doing today than it did under his predecessor. A recent report by the International Monetary Fund establishes that the United States leads all other wealthy nations in the recovery from the deep recession of the past several years. The revitalization of the automobile industry has produced many jobs and the trends are looking in the right direction for greater job creation throughout the country. Moreover, the Obama program promises more equality in taxation, more allocation of resources to education, and a healthier America with better access both to healthcare and to insurance. A well-educated and healthy America is a good prescription not only for more jobs but also for better jobs and for keeping good jobs at home.

All in all, the case for the reelection of Barack Obama is a compelling one, based not only on his record but on the specific policies he has proposed for the next four years.

President Obama has earned my vote on the basis of his excellent judicial appointments, his consensus-building foreign policy and the improvements he has brought about in the disastrous economy he inherited.

The writer is a Harvard law professor and political commentator.

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