Watching the tag team "debate" featuring Barack Obama and Candy Crowley v. Mitt Romney, it was easy to see what a second Obama term would look like. Picture J.R.R. Tolkien's Mordor, or Detroit, but with even less hope, no change and a really lousy economy.
Where are we now?
We have a $16 trillion national debt exploding by more than $1 trillion annually. Unemployment perked along above 8 percent for 43 months before miraculously "dipping" to 7.8 percent -- just before the election. (Adding those who have quit looking for work, the rate is above 10 percent.) Twenty-three million are jobless and fewer work today than when Obama took office. Welfare spending is up more than 30 percent.
More than 47 million are on food stamps and 46 million -- roughly 15 percent of us -- live in poverty. Median real household income is sliding. Gas prices are hovering at about $4 a gallon, sucking the life out of family budgets. Heating costs are crazy. Even Joe Biden says the middle class is buried, and Americans are about to be clobbered with arguably the largest tax increase in American history -- Obamacare.
Immigration is a mess; the economy a shambles. Government is more intrusive. Terrorists use us for a punching bag. And Michele Obama does not want us eating cheeseburgers.
Really, what's not to like?
In Obama's brave new world, all that simply is part of a vast, successful, hard-to-define recovery he snatched out of a hat; a fix requiring four more years to complete. The problem? He cannot explain what he would do with four more years or what he did with the four he had. Blaming former President George W. Bush goes only so far.
In the debate, when Crowley allowed, Romney pounded away, detailing his five-point economic plan, offering a blueprint. Obama defended Planned Parenthood, the Detroit bailout/union giveaway and his fib that by sticking it to the rich he can cut the deficit.
Obama has no plan but to tax, borrow and spend. He offers only more trickle-down government.
Gasoline and fuel prices would not drop, nor would the United States achieve energy independence. His Energy secretary, Steven Chu, says gas prices should be in the $9- or $10-a-gallon range. As Obama took office, they were in the $1.80-a-gallon range. In the debate, Obama did not disavow Chu's views.
Obama would continue appeasing his green pals, blocking vital projects such as the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. He would back campaign contributors' costly solar and wind projects, ignoring the reality that focusing on those as primary sources of energy now is reckless and premature. The United States will need oil, natural gas and coal for decades.
Tellingly, and despite Obama's debate assertions, oil and gas production on public land is down. Drilling leases and permits are down too under the Obama administration. We would see more of the same.
The future is the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska -- cheap talk and closure of vast tracks of federal land to exploration and development accompanied by rigorous, intrusive, combative government harassment on private lands. Mining in Alaska would be jeopardized. Note the Environmental Protection Agency and its attack on the Pebble prospect and projects elsewhere.
Taxpayers would pay the tab for abortions. Obamacare would devastate the medical profession.
Law-abiding gun owners? Toast in a second term. During the debate, Obama promised another "assault weapons" ban. Somebody should tell him we already had one. The only real problem with "assault weapons" has been the Obama administration's "Fast and Furious" scheme that secretly dumped thousands of weapons in Mexico, killing at least one Border Patrol officer and perhaps thousands of innocent Mexicans. Obama has hidden the details -- even from the Mexican government. Crowley helped Obama dodge Romney's questions about it.
Perhaps the most pernicious, insidiously devastating thing that could happen during another Obama term would be his selecting one or more Supreme Court justices. The harm to this nation over generations would be catastrophic.
The ugly truth is that another four years would look like the last four -- but worse. Obama is unable to lead -- from the front nine or the back -- and he lacks ideas, offering only gambits and excuses.
Without a doubt, Obama failed. Even Mordor and Detroit would look good after four more years of him.
Paul Jenkins is the editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet.com.
commentBy PAUL JENKINS