SAN FRANCISCO, CA --- The overriding goal of every first term president is be a two-term president. or this President, much more is at stake than personal achievement.
As a former Harvard University constitutional law professor, he knows that a second term offers him the opportunity to change the Supreme Court for decades. That would provide him a second major victory. To stem off legal attempts to repeal his health care initiative—the measure which would mark his place in U.S. history. But he has a third priority of winning re-election: To use the fiscal crisis – which will only exacerbate in the next 24 months – to accomplish his pervasive goal, distributive justice.
Plainly speaking, in two years, he will argue that fiscal health requires higher taxes for the wealthy, a significantly lower defense budget, and to transfer that wealth to support programs that aid the poor -- The President remembers his roots.
In other words, President Obama, unlike many of his predecessors, looks forward to his second term to accomplish his main objectives. No lame duck president, here.
The lame-duck session of Congress previews his strategy now and after 2012 should he be victorious.
First, a flash back. In a previous article, I noted that Obama bucked his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and pushed for a omnibus and significant health care reform bill. His chief of staff recommended a scaled down reform measure, concentrating on full coverage for children and the poor. President Obama said no and he won.
In contrast, during the recent lame-duck session of Congress, Obama showed he understands political jujitsu, as well as President Clinton in 1994.
Basic martial arts: as the opponent thrusts forward, do not oppose, “go with the flow.” He yielded completely on taxes, extending the Bush tax cuts...but only for two years. He received a major concession from the Republicans...extended unemployment benefits. He did push ahead, but was defeated on limited immigration reform, and the President abandoned carbon taxes (a politically clever move to leave that initiative to the EPA, and that agency’s plans for carbon reduction regulations..again outsmarting the Republicans.)
He earned admiration from republicans and wasn’t hurt among his base. Reuters reported that “among Democrats, 78 percent said Obama should be renominated as the party’s presidential candidate, while 19 percent said they wanted a different candidate. Those readings were the highest and lowest respectively since March 2010.”
Obama outsmarted the Republicans.
He compromised for now, because in two years, he and Nancy Pelosi hope to regain control of the House, then continue to enact his agenda.
But then there’s the economy.
Economic indicators are up. Unemployment, consumer sentiment and housing foreclosures have not improved, in fact, grown worse.
If unemployment and consumer/voter sentiment don’t improve by 2012, then President Obama will have outsmarted himself, and be a one term president.