Take a look at the title of this blog. It is called Political Realities for a reason and I take the tag line very seriously. Because of that, I want to remind us all of a certain political reality that will not be going away. President Obama has won a second term. He will be living in the White House for another four years. We need to come to terms with that reality and not mope around. And trust me, I have been as guilty as anyone of moping around because of the defeat we have suffered.
What will four more years of President Obama entail? That could be anyone’s guess, but we do have his record to look at. In spite of his rhetoric of wanting to reach across the aisle, his record shows us he is less than willing to do that. His record shows us he would be more than willing to make all the decisions himself, if our system of government allowed that. Because of that, he has practiced a sidestep around Congress, when he deems them to be standing in his way.
Why does President Obama work this way? Part of it is his personality. He isn’t a natural when it comes to working with other politicians, especially if they have views different from his own. In short, he is aloof and he does not relate, or play, well with others. The excerpts I have read from Bob Woodward’s new book bear that out. He comes across as stuck up and when he and his facts are challenged by those who disagree with him, he does not react well. If you don’t believe that is the truth, just watch the video of his exchange with Paul Ryan during the negotiations over the health care law. Obama was clearly angry and beside himself after Ryan called him on the carpet for his lies.
Can we expect to see more of the same Obama in his second term? That remains to be seen and depends largely on how willing he is to compromise. It will also depend on how he wants his legacy to be viewed by history.
(The Hill) But observers and those close to the White House expect that all to change during a second term. They anticipate a more engaging Obama, who will work with lawmakers on everything from the so-called “fiscal cliff” to immigration reform.
“The signal I’ve gotten from the White House is that they realize they need to do more outreach,” said Jamal Simmons, another Democratic strategist. “The administration not only needs to do good policy, they need to make sure good politics is also being done.”
The president is inviting lawmakers to the White House this week to begin discussing a solution for the impending fiscal cliff of expiring tax rates and automatic spending cuts, which many economists warn could spark a recession.
The article from The Hill goes on to discuss how President Obama is likely to follow Bill Clinton’s example in his second term. Clinton move quickly to the middle and actually accomplished a great deal by working with the Republican-led Congress. That may happen with President Obama, but I am holding little hope for that scenario to play out.
You see, there is one big difference between President Obama and Bill Clinton. The 42nd President of the United States was/is a man who is a liberal with few core beliefs. He was more than willing to work with Newt Gingrich and to compromise on some of the major issues of that time. President Obama is not Bill Clinton. He is an ideologue and I believe, a man who will be unwilling to compromise with Republicans. He has shown himself to be willing to stick strictly to his liberal beliefs and has thus far, shown no willingness to compromise with his opponents.
I hope I am wrong. I hope Obama can come to terms with what he wants his legacy to be and see his way to forging a compromise with Republicans that will avert the fiscal calamity that is staring us in the face. We should know how willing he will be in the next few days, and at least by the end of the year. A word of caution to the President. It will take more than soaring speeches and rhetoric to prove me wrong. He says he wants to change the tone in Washington, but his record says he will do no such thing. His supporters may ignore his record, but conservatives will not. We shall see which side of history he wants to be on.