Obama: A One-Term President?

Not all the missteps that President Obama has made have been entirely his fault. But he is going to have a lot of work to do in the next four months in order to win back disaffected supporters. When he first came to power the president promised to usher in a new era of cooperation with the Republicans.

About twenty Republicans, with various levels of interest and public appeal, are in the midst of a contest to become their party’s nominee to oppose President Barack Obama in November of this year.  They certainly have a lot of fodder to help reinvigorate their base, much of it supplied by President Obama himself.  Familiar faces from 2008, Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, and the eventual Vice Presidential pick, Sarah Palin, are all fighting for the social conservatives.  Also in the running is the darling of the Tea Party Movement, Michelle Bachmann, with her appeal to the fiscal conservatives.

Not all the missteps that President Obama has made have been entirely his fault.  But he is going to have a lot of work to do in the next four months in order to win back disaffected supporters.  When he first came to power the president promised to usher in a new era of cooperation with the Republicans.  He wanted to change the rancor which was part of the culture in Washington.  Armed with the ideals that he articulated so glowingly during his presidential run, President Obama came into office determined to put them to work.  Then reality struck!  He encountered a Republican-led Congress hell-bent on denying him any successes.  The Republicans said “no” to the president at every turn, and had their right-wing talk-show surrogates praying for the president to fail.  After sticking his hand out a number of times to the Republicans – only to have it bitten – President Obama was too reluctant to go it alone.  Every time the Republicans voiced opposition to his proposals, he was too quick to tone them down.  With this policy of appeasement, he removed the “public-option” from his healthcare plan, which cost him dearly with Democrats.

Also, much to the dismay of many voters, President Obama did not honor his campaign pledges to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and to bring the soldiers home from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Instead, he has increased the number of troops and lengthened the timetable for the troop withdrawal.  The irony here is that the same Republicans that chastised him for wanting to bring the troops home too early, are now complaining that he’s letting them stay too long! President Obama has also continued many of the abhorrent Bush administration’s policies regarding the Patriot Act and has failed to properly regulate corporations that are damaging the environment and endangering lives, especially in the energy sector.

In politics however, no-one is ever able to deliver 100% of their campaign promises.  Proving to the public that you are trying and having some successes along the way, is usually enough to keep supporters happy.  Will Obama’s continued attempts to bend over backwards for the Republicans threaten his reelection bid?  Maybe.  While I would not take too much from the Republican gains in the 2010 mid-term elections, there are some lessons that can be learned to help the president win a second term.  Though Obama entered office on a wave of public support, independents who did not think “change” came soon enough voted Republican and many Democrats just stayed home.   This resulted in the anti-worker laws now being passed in Wisconsin by Governor Scott Walker and should serve as a national wake-up call for Obama supporters and help re-energize them for his 2012 run.

The biggest issue for the president will be the state of the economy.  The president usually takes all the credit for the good times and gets all the blame for the bad times.  President Obama inherited the recession from President Bush but will be blamed if unemployment doesn’t start going down.  If the economy starts to turn around, he definitely has the charisma to get back enough of his following.  There is definitely enough time for Obama to get reacquainted with the voters before November.  He’ll help himself more by standing up to the Republicans and getting back to some of the campaign pledges he outlined at the start of his first term.  Also, if the Republican nomination gets bloody with infighting among Tea Party and traditional GOP members, his job will be that much easier.  But even with the sputtering economy, I’d still put my money on President Obama to repeat assuming he does not mess it up by going back to his over-compromising ways.

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