Reuters.com reports that
Obama, who won a second term by defeating Republican Mitt Romney after a bitter campaign, will now face many of the same problems that dogged his first four years: persistently high unemployment, crushing government debt and a deep partisan divide. The war in Afghanistan, which Obama is winding down, has dragged on for over a decade.
He won an end-of-year fiscal battle against Republicans, whose poll numbers have continued to sag, and appears to have gotten them to back down, at least temporarily, from resisting an increase in the national debt ceiling.
And Obama faces a less-dire outlook than he did when he took office in 2009 at the height of a deep U.S. recession and world economic crisis. The economy is growing again, though slowly.
But he still faces a daunting array of challenges.
Among them is a fierce gun-control debate inspired by a school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, last month, a tragedy he invoked in his speech.
He said America must not rest until “all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.”
Obama’s appeals for bipartisan cooperation will remind many Americans of his own failure to meet a key promise when he came to power – to act as a transformational leader who would fix a dysfunctional Washington.
His speech was light on foreign policy, with no mention of the West’s nuclear standoff with Iran, the civil war in Syria, dealings with an increasingly powerful China or confronting al Qaeda’s continued threat as exemplified by the recent deadly hostage crisis in Algeria.
But Obama said: “We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully … We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.”
U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who had declared in 2010 that his top goal was to deny Obama re-election, congratulated the president and expressed a willingness to work together, saying a second term “represents a fresh start.”
But some Republicans responded skeptically. “It was a very, very progressive speech, to put it in the best possible light,” said Republican strategist Rich Galen. “He’s not running for election anymore.”
But, Rich…what if that is all he knows how to do?
Back n November 28, 2012, as the fight over the Fiscal Cliff and Debt Ceiling was heating up, mediaite .com published the following insight:
Campaigning is comfortable territory for politicians and it is an especially cozy place for President Obama to occupy – he is an extraordinary campaigner and has spent the majority of his political career on the trail seeking one or the other public office. But is this an effective tool for governing? One need only look at Obama’s accomplishments in his first term to determine that it is not.
The president did not need to campaign to pass the stimulus act – his party’s electoral mandate after the 2008 elections was broad enough and the financial crisis so dire that virtually any measure the president advocated for would have been passed. The president did, however, need to push hard to pass his health care reform law – a program which remains deeply unpopular and whose future is forever in doubt.
The only reassurance that Democrats who support the Affordable Care Act have that the law will not be repealed (more likely, dramatically amended) by a future Republican administration or GOP-dominated Congress is that broad entitlement programs is rarely repealed after it is fully enacted because vulnerable members of the public become dependent on those programs. Those who hold this view cite the legislative accomplishments of President Lyndon Johnson’s “Great Society” to support this thesis. But Democrats who idolize Johnson and seek parallels between the 36th president and the 44th have few to choose from.
Johnson was a famously passionate negotiator and a dogged pursuer of legislative compromise – so long as ultimate goals were agreed to at the end of the day. The tails of his tireless efforts to strike deals between members of his party and Republicans in Congress (some of whom he had better relationships with) remain legendary.
Numerous accounts, notably those of reporter Bob Woodward in The Price of Politics, suggest that Obama is more likely to alienate his opponents in a tense negotiation than to win them over. Woodward noted that Vice President Joe Biden was the administration’s link to Republican members of Congress when several debt reduction commissions were convened in Obama’s first term. Given the vice president’s demeanor during the 2012 campaign, and his concerns for his own political future, it is unlikely that Biden can serve in such a role in Obama’s second term.
An executive in the White House would not attempt to strike compromise by directing his supporters to harangue his Congressional opposition through Facebook posts and Twitter-based guilt trips. Such tactics are impediments to real compromise, but these are the tools of Obama’s first resort.
Republicans have signaled their willingness to compromise by increasing tax rates on high earners and Democrats have begun to see the light on the need for dramatic reforms to entitlement programs. But the willingness to compromise does not automatically translate into a forthcoming bargain. The president seems set on making the political environment toxic and to make compromise less likely in order to secure the notion that he won a mandate in November.
It was announced recently that Obama for America was regrouping as Organizing for America, Obama’s very own bunch of Brown Shirts, who would provide”feet on the ground” in an effort to intimidate and garner public support for Obama’s pet projects.
To recap…America has a divisive leader who has substituted perpetual campaigning for effective governance of our country, assisted by his own personal army of sycophantic supporters.
While the GOP Establishment are sounding like Neville Chamberlain.
Until He Comes,