by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The president’s current priorities perplex A.B. Stoddard of The Hill.
It is only six months into his second term and President Obama is playing the lame duck.
From U.S. involvement in Syria to containment of Iran’s nuclear program, passage of comprehensive immigration reform to a debt-ceiling increase, or a smooth landing for his unpopular healthcare program, Obama’s immediate governing challenges seem far less interesting or urgent to him than his legacy wish list. What else could explain the fact that he is talking about tackling climate change and reducing nuclear arsenals when there is little to no political viability for either goal?
It is convenient to explain away Obama’s current posture as stylistic: the same long-view, no-drama manner he has always brought to the job of leader of the free world. Yet being aware that he isn’t likely to accomplish much after, say, this fall, when the congressional midterm campaigns begin, it’s startling that Obama still appears so passive.
The president may believe all is well, but his approval rating has dropped considerably since winning reelection last year. In just a few weeks, Americans have learned the government can collect limitless data — inadvertently or otherwise — on all of us, watched markets rattle over fears the Federal Reserve could even consider a stimulus slowdown in a jobless recovery, and witnessed the Chinese and the Russians laugh us off as Edward Snowden slithers around the globe and the U.S. government sits powerless, hoping someone will ship him back here.
As noted recently in this forum, the president’s current approach will have an impact on those hoping to succeed him in the White House.