If President Obama loses next Tuesday, we will be tempted to point to two days that did it: Sept. 11, 2012, (riots in Cairo and elsewhere); and Oct. 3, (the first debate). But the real cause may lie in two paths not taken, in which unwise decisions led to bad outcomes.
The first came in January 2010, when Scott Brown, running as the 41st vote to finish Obamacare, won a special election to fill the seat of Ted Kennedy by an unexpected large margin in blue Massachusetts, which had gone overwhelmingly for the Democrats in 2008. This came after the off-year elections in Virginia and in New Jersey. These states, which also had gone for Obama, made large swings to install Republican governors, who campaigned against his ideas. Protests had dogged Democrats at town meetings, polls showed the public despised his proposals, and his approval ratings had fallen dramatically. He had two choices. One was to scale down his health care bill to a few proposals which could have won broad approval, try to win over some centrist Republicans, and have a small but real win he could take to the public. The other, which he chose, was to go big: ram the bill back through the House of Representatives, enrage the people already against him, and add to their number those made as angry by the procedure as others had been by the bill.