Saturday, November 13, 2010

Obama 'Has Largely Lost the Consent of the Governed'

I don't take these calls all that seriously, mainly because I don't believe that Obama's a cut-and-run president, and while I disagree with him profoundly, that's a good quality to have. He just needs to find a new tack, perhaps become more humble, and more attuned to a centrist style that's genuinely appreciated by Republicans. I don't know if there's a way for that after two years of thinking you know what's best for the country and screw everyone else, but if Bill Clinton showed us anything in 1994 it's that you can be a colossal screw up and still be reelected to a second term. And folks shouldn't get me wrong --- I want Obama to fail, the way Rush Limbaugh wants Obama to fail. It's just that there's no office like the presidency, an institution that's an engine of history. Announcing he'd not seek reelection in 2012 would make him even weaker than is now. He'd be transformed into a lame duck immediately, instead of after 2013 or so, after he'd expended his capital from reelection to a second term. And for what? Lyndon Johnson got a shellacking in the 1968 Democratic primaries. He stepped aside to "devote full attention" to the war in Vietnam. The president who signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is rarely referred to as one of the nation's greatest presidents. Obama not only wants to be remembered as the first black president. He wants to be remembered as the black Lincoln. That's probably out of reach, but he won't even be the black Truman if he announces he won't seek a second term.

In any case, from Douglas Schoen and Patrick Caddell at WaPo, "
One and Done: To Be a Great President, Obama Should Not Seek Reelection in 2012" (via Memeorandum):
President Obama must decide now how he wants to govern in the two years leading up to the 2012 presidential election.

In recent days, he has offered differing visions of how he might approach the country's problems. At one point, he spoke of the need for "mid-course corrections." At another, he expressed a desire to take ideas from both sides of the aisle. And before this month's midterm elections, he said he believed that the next two years would involve "hand-to-hand combat" with Republicans, whom he also referred to as "enemies."

It is clear that the president is still trying to reach a resolution in his own mind as to what he should do and how he should do it.

This is a critical moment for the country. From the faltering economy to the burdensome deficit to our foreign policy struggles, America is suffering a widespread sense of crisis and anxiety about the future. Under these circumstances, Obama has the opportunity to seize the high ground and the imagination of the nation once again, and to galvanize the public for the hard decisions that must be made. The only way he can do so, though, is by putting national interests ahead of personal or political ones.

To that end, we believe Obama should announce immediately that he will not be a candidate for reelection in 2012.

If the president goes down the reelection road, we are guaranteed two years of political gridlock at a time when we can ill afford it. But by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.

We do not come to this conclusion lightly. But it is clear, we believe, that the president has largely lost the consent of the governed. The midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the Obama presidency. And even if it was not an endorsement of a Republican vision for America, the drubbing the Democrats took was certainly a vote of no confidence in Obama and his party. The president has almost no credibility left with Republicans and little with independents.

The best way for him to address both our national challenges and the serious threats to his credibility and stature is to make clear that, for the next two years, he will focus exclusively on the problems we face as Americans, rather than the politics of the moment - or of the 2012 campaign.

Quite simply, given our political divisions and economic problems, governing and campaigning have become incompatible. Obama can and should dispense with the pollsters, the advisers, the consultants and the strategists who dissect all decisions and judgments in terms of their impact on the president's political prospects.

Obama himself once said to Diane Sawyer: "I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president." He now has the chance to deliver on that idea.
More commentary from Another Black Conservative and Allahpundit.


Grizzly Mama said...

Huge difference between Clinton and Obama. Clinton HAD no ideology other than retaining the presidency as long as possible, and he knew what it took to do that - namely back the hell down and let the Republican-led Congress fix things and call Hillary off of her insane healthcare bus tour. Obama will do no such thing. Not in one million years - I would put money on it. He will attack, attack, attack and never back down. Clinton was pragmatic, he understood politics. Obama doesn't - and based on what Pelosi has been saying, she doesn't get it either.

It's okay though, because we're onto them and it will be kind of fun watching what happens over the next couple of years.

Anonymous said...

That WaPo column is the dumbest thing I've read all year.

They are advising him to quit TWO YEARS before the election because he's at around 45% in some post-midterm polls?


"we believe, that the president has largely lost the consent of the governed. The midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the Obama presidency"

Um, no. Sorry. Wrong answer.

Not only was it not a referendum on Obama but quitting wouldn't fix anything. It would make things much worse and we'd be right back at the 2006-2008 period of Bush's lame duckness. Those were two bad years for America.

It would be a selfish cowardly act on Obama's part and would cause political instability that we don't need. Presidents run for re-election. Period.

Sorry about the rant but I suspect 2012 will be VERY close and these two will look like idiots in hindsight.

EM said...

Anon - The only way 2012 will be very close is if either the economy gets much, much better, (Presidents do NOT win reelection with 10% (really 20%) unemployment) which has a close to zero probability, or if the Repubs produce a field of candidates as weak as the one in 2008 (which was probably the weakest group of choices fielded by a major party in at least 60 years) That is probably unlikely also. That having been said, you are correct about quitting being a dumb idea. WaPo and the schmucks who wrote it know that. That column was written, not because it was realistic, but solely to grab peoples attention - congrats, it worked.

EM said...

Also, Anon, when you comment, I would suggest not including statements like "Not only was it [the election] not a referendum on Obama..." as that statement is so patently ridiculous as to cast doubt on any valid points you might make. It's like saying that Bush's actions had no influence on the outcome of the '06 midterm.