Act II and A Better Strategy

On Monday President Obama will be inaugurated again, this time for a second term.  One might reasonably question the President’s sanity if the second term is to parallel the first.  History can only speculate what might have been, had President Obama not inherited an economy in free fall and a Republican Party which proudly marched under its “NO” flag.

Conditions are different this time.  The question on the table is will President Obama’s second term be different?

Arguably Barack Obama was not ready to be President in January of 2008.  He was smart and vigorous enough but he lacked experience at the Presidential level to deal with political abstractions and the pace of events. 

Closing Guantanamo detention center was (and still is) the right action to take.  Not having a hammer to beat back Congressional neocons who would do what was necessary to block closure revealed a blind spot.  Championing health care reform, even using programs originally designed by Republican think tanks, was well intentioned but naive.  There was no Republican who wanted to partner with the President on anything.  

But the President learned.  Unfortunately, the survival methods President Obama adopted were the exact opposite of those methods he vowed to use during his campaign.  The picture developed that President Obama was just like all the other politicians who came before him.  Say one thing, do another.

There was another factor at play.  His “loyal” opposition had disintegrated into splintered factions.  These factions, particularly the Tea Party types, despite their absolute focus, were equally naive.  The GOP emerged as against so many other groups (women, gays, immigrants, science) that their base eroded right before their eyes.  In what can only be describe as a circus, the GOP self destructed before American eyes with its Presidential Primary process.  

When the dust settled in November of 2012, voters had spoken.  There message was clear.  The GOP party of President Obama’s first term was not the party Americans wanted.  

So Act II for President Obama as chief executive is about to begin.  He is wiser but the task before him while different is still enormous.  Policies are not just going to happen just because the President says he favors this or that.  And making real change will be painful and will not come freely.  

By the same token, the GOP is showing signs that the voter’s message has been heard.  Republican proposals to extend the debt limit with no strings is a sharp departure from their previous positions.  Even more telling are comments by Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Paul Ryan who have proposed gun reforms which are not that dissimilar from what the President has proposed.

The significance of these two signs is that there is obvious room for win-win legislation.  This is the “crawl before you run” phase since no one can project a lasting cure to the deficit/debt issue or the elimination of senseless mass killings.  If President Obama can work with Congress and knock off the budget/deficit issue, and then agree upon some gun reforms, it will set the table for additional successes.  

Act II has very important issues which need to be dealt with.  The GOP needs a better strategy.  What a way to serve both needs and at the same time work on problems that can make a real difference for all Americans.


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