Obama will have to play a smarter game
Barack Obama has launched his second term in far better shape than his first in 2009. As a known quantity, he is far less vulnerable to the dismissive talk that he encountered during his first term.
Despite Donald Trump and a few “birthers,” the public accepts his presidency as the biproduct of the national will than as a fluke. On many fronts – gun control, health care – Obama is gradually winning converts.
For instance, as to “Obamacare,” he has Gov. Kasich of Ohio and Gov. Brown of Arizona praising it and vowing to enforce the statute. On gun control, although an assault weapons ban seems unlikely, he has a better than even chance of getting the universal background check. On immigration reform, as John McCain expressed, they all understand election results. Truly the Mitch McConnell vow to deny Obama a second term failed and with it ended the period of noncooperation.
Now the Tea Party is on the defensive, being harassed by Karl Rove. Proving that they were merely shock troops for Republican regulars, their usefulness appears to be at an end. But, the cynical play to defeat Obama, even at the risk of wounding the nation, although it appears to have backfired, certainly does not reflect well on the GOP. Trying to change the face of the party may, as Harry Truman expressed it, be a ruse, or as he put it, “a leopard might change its spots but it is the same old leopard.”
But he faces the old politics of negativity John McCain and company still go after Chuck Hagel out of spite. And, there are some trying to reconfigure electoral rules to their own benefit. Some Republican legislatures, such as in North Carolina, threatened to undercut the health care law. But, the actions seem to have minimal consequences.
However, Obama should not take this period of calm with too much confidence. If the Republicans limit the din of their criticism, Democrats might find much to criticize about the president. The drones have come in for discussion and the similarities with George W. Bush have been noted. As with Bill Clinton, GOP assaults have only strengthened Obama. Perhaps a break in the action might allow Democrats to dwell on the neo-liberal side of the administration.
Normalcy sometimes proves the dry rot to political success. That labor languishes and unemployment remains stubbornly high are challenges to Obama. During the first term, he found a balm in Republican vitriol which covered his ideological inconsistencies. Despite GOP charges of socialism on the domestic front, Obama has remained slightly to the right of Clinton.
However, there are radical elements of the right who detest Obama and may yet manage to unite Democrats with their absurd claims.
The old chestnut concerning Obama’s legitimacy persist in some circles. It will also be next to impossible to have the Wayne Lapierres restrain themselves over people trying “to take away” guns. Perhaps they will stir the pot but every time they do, Obama gains. With his enemies, he does not need any friends.
Although the Republicans have made some nods to the sane right of center, the party still has problems. The Greek chorus of conservative commentators blare out. Reince Priebus still remains chairman of the Republican National Committee, which would be analogous to Dean Burch being kept after the Goldwater debacle. But the voices of reason are being heard, and perhaps Obama will have to play a smarter game.