In his first term, President Obama established his place in history by gaining passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, but he was pursued by an entire array of national security issues beginning with the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars; the pursuit of Al-Qaeda; interrogation and prisoner abuse; and the implications of the political turmoil caused by the Arab Spring and the turnover in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and, what will certainly be, in Syria. Now he would like to address the economic crisis, tax overhaul, entitlement reform plus immigration and gun control. Unfortunately, as inevitably is the case, his large wish list may well be overwhelmed by North Korea, drone use, China, trade, Russia, and all the lingering Middle East issues.
There are also two perplexing behavioral issues about the beginning of this second term one of which may be easily resolved the other of which is beginning already to increase the skepticism among many observers as to whether the President has learned anything about the actual art of governing after four years in the White House. The first issue is why Obama waited so long to finally submit his budget to Congress. Given the outrageous performance that the public has witnessed during the past year as the President and Congress dilly-dallied about the FY 2013 budget plus the debt ceiling battles and sequestration, even the excuse that they needed to wait to see how everything left over washed out before submitting the FY 2014 budget does not work. This delay is an absolute guarantee for another budgetary circus next fall and winter.
Second, the President appears to be no more willing to use strong arm tactics to get anything done than he did in his first term. Admittedly he still has time to demonstrate the arrival of a new forceful legislative leader image as the battles are engaged very shortly on gun control, immigration, and social security. His weak behavior since January, however, does not suggest that a new model of tough guy President is emerging. While, there may well still be major legislative accomplishments to come in the months ahead, given that this work period for Congress until Memorial Day is critical, President Obama’s preparation to take on the Republicans and to force his own party members to make tough compromises does not look to be very optimistic.