Sunday, November 14, 2010

Voluntary One Term Presidency?

H/T to Uncle and D.W. Drang over at The Clue Meter on this one.

The Washington Post is suggesting to President Obama that the only way his presidency can have any possibility of success is for him to immediately announce that he will not be seeking re-election in 2012.  Their theory is that this will allow him to rise above Washington politics and concentrate on dealing with our countries problems. 

I have a couple of problems with their theory, both in its supposition that Obama could do such a thing, and his chances of getting anything accomplished if he did.

First of all, Obama has never had to deal with problems, such as statesmanship or good governance, for any real amount of time.  During his entire political life, he's always used his current position as a stepping stone to his next position.  He has never stayed in one place long enough to form the skill sets necessary to work with people who oppose him and convince them to cooperate, either through persuasion or compromise.  He has always groomed himself for the next promotion, and right now his instincts are telling him the next promotion is re-election in 2012.  He will never preemptively bow out of the 2012 elections.  It's not in his character.  He's a born campaigner, but a poor governor.

But assuming for the sake of the argument, would Barack Obama, who has never had to compromise and work with an opponent on a regular basis on anything of importance, have the personal discipline and long vision to let go of all of the politics and work towards politically unpopular, yet absolutely necessary solutions?  Would he get into a dogfight with the left wing of the Democrat party to reform entitlements while at the same time fighting with Republicans over reforming our foreign policy?  Would he have the intestinal fortitude to either bring the financial sector of our economy under control or let it go completely if it is failing?  My gut tells me no.  He is a political animal.  He was taught political theory while still being bounced on a Marxist's knee.  He got his practical political education in the Illinois Democrat machine where party loyalty and orthodoxy is everything.  I don't think that even if he announced that he wasn't interested in the job after January 2013 that he would have the willpower to buck the old guard of the Democrats.  He would instinctively pick political fights with anyone who opposes his wishes, no matter how good or bad those wishes would be for the country.  This alone would cause him to be a failure as a president until replaced in 2013.

What would happen if President Obama announced that he would not run for relection would be gridlock even worse than what we are looking at now.  If he bows out of 2012, every hungry shark among the Democrats will be loathe to do anything to support a president who is bucking Democrat tradition.  They would start making distinctions between themselves and the president in order to stand out in what would be a brutal primary.  The Republicans have already signaled their unwillingness to work with the president on much of anything if they're not handsomely bought off.  If both parties refuse to work with him, well, he can always take up stamp collecting. 

What's more likely to happen is Obama will move towards the center for the next 12 to 18 months, try to co-opt the Republican majority in the House of Representatives in getting something through that he can point at as a good thing in the election, and then swing hard to the left if Clinton comes out of the administration and runs against him in the primaries.  His success in the 2012 general election will probably be based on what the economy does over the next year or so, whether or not we have another major terrorist attack in the homeland, and how the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Arabian Peninsula/Horn of Africa go. 

If the economy improves at anything other than a snail's pace, I give Obama an even chance of re-election.  If it doesn't, the I expect the Republicans to resurrect the "Are you better off than you were 4 years ago" and "It's the economy stupid!" slogans of old and hand him his head.  But if the Republicans are seen as standing in the way of the President trying to do good works and the economy improves, they will lose. 

No comments:

Creative Commons License
DaddyBear's Den by DaddyBear is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at