Since I fell off the wagon yesterday to write about politics, I thought I'd go whole hog and give y'all a double barrel blast of election musings. President Obama will face some major challenges next year, from the sluggish economy to an irate base to GOP obstructionism to a tendency to back down from a fight to his inevitable inability to live up to the ridiculously high standards placed upon him in 2008. (I will admit some guilt in this regard, it wasn't just the ballyhoo of his campaign that put him in this bind.)
That being said, he has some major advantages on his side against any of the Republicans who might get the nomination, regardless of who that person will be.
He's a likable guy
President Obama has a winning personality, and comes across with a great deal of dignity while still remaining plenty of the common touch. (Those who argue that he is some kind of distant intellectual are bullshitting, imho.) Romney is slightly robotic in a Sears catalog menswear model kind of way, the Republican answer to John Kerry. Gingrich, Bachmann, and Cain are buffoons, and Perry is a blustering fool who makes George W. Bush look dignified. In a debate, all of these people will seem pretty silly by comparison to Obama, although Romney will at least look presidential.
I don't really need to say much here.
In case you haven't noticed, the Republican debates have featured next to nothing related to foreign affairs. That's no accident, since the GOP wants to distant itself as much as possible from memories of the horrible failures and unpopularity of the Bush administration's neo-conservatism. If they try to claim, as Romney has, that the president has somehow been "soft," Obama will only have to remind America that he has bombed Libya, ordered the shooting of pirates and jihadists, and gave the order to take down bin Laden. I do not think all of these decisions were good ideas, but there's no way he can be attacked from the Right on foreign policy, as Democrats often are. He has proven himself to be a respected world leader, no matter his domestic failings or the smear tactics used against him.
The "are you really going to vote for them?" factor
The current Republican party and the Tea Party have a symbiotic relationship, which has pushed the GOP candidates harder to attack immigrants, bash gays, beat the Bible, engage in Islamophobia, and play racial politics of the most noxious kind (Exhibit A: the enthusiastic reception on the Right of Herman Cain's remarks about black Democrats being "on the plantation.") The president could have done a lot more to help the groups being demonized by the Right, the alternative is becoming increasingly unpalatable to anyone who is not white, straight, or fervently Christian. Our nation's demographics do not favor the Republican strategy of pandering to white resentment.