President Obama captivated much of the American electorate in 2008. His speeches meshed with the disillusionment many Americans felt over the Bush Presidency and frankly the direction America seemed headed. The reality of Obama’s Presidency, however, has turned out quite differently than his ardent supports had imagined.
President Obama has turned out to be a rather indecisive and ineffective chief executive and a dismal partner for Congress (even when Democratically controlled). President Obama, on the other hand, (IMO) will be seen historically as a bright light bulb compared to his predecessor and Congress. President Obama’s policies on overseas engagement, health care, infrastructure investment, immigration reform, and the emergence of Asia as the most important region for US foreign affairs attention will clearly mark him for greatness.
What about 2016?
The GOP field admittedly continues to be hamstrung with the need to select its candidate through a bazaar primary process which drives all the candidates far to the right in order to win the nomination. Once nominated the GOP standard bearer must navigate back to the middle if they are to have a chance of winning in the general election. A lot of opportunity for promising things which will come back to haunt.
With due respect to the GOP process, the field has yet to reveal anyone with “big” ideas. Republicans might argue that killing Obamacare, shrinking government spending, and awarding huge tax cuts to the wealthy are big ideas. To be sure this political candy would have profound impact since the GOP has proposed nothing to replace or remedy hardships that their big ideas would entail. In short, the GOP seems focus on finding a “leader” who can take charge, not someone who has a sense of “true north”.
Democrats got a refresher view of what a Hillary Clinton Presidency will be like this week. Hillary announced she was opposed to the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement because it did not protect American jobs enough. Hmmm.
President Bill Clinton was a master at making big decisions once he was sure, from poll numbers, where public opinion lay. Hillary made a very similar decision, albeit her focus was more on her two main nomination rivals, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.
Hillary’s position has been characterized as a bow to organized labor and bares no connection with the merits of the agreement. My guess is that should Congress approve the agreement anyways, a President Clinton would in future years boast how well her Administration had managed the deal and what an important policy for creating new American jobs.
Hillary Clinton supporters must begin to recognize that there will be a cost with her election. She will most likely not possess the will to make principled choices like President Obama. What a President Hillary Clinton might experience in her terms is only speculative at this point. A President Clinton should be expected to maintain most entitlements and Social Security, and push for immigration reform, protect women rights, and nominate centrist to left of center Supreme Court nominees. She would waiver on all sorts of other issue taking a course of least resistance.
So it may come down to picking a GOP tough talking, shallow thinking candidate, or a Democrat candidate (most likely Hillary) who has their heart in the right place but will wiggle to the left or the right, to this private interest group or that one. Hmmm, I guess that is Real Life.