Friday, April 05, 2013

Second Term Headaches

A president's second term seldom goes as well as his first. He has a shorter honeymoon and has less political capital to work with. Presidents spend their first term pushing their agenda so there is little left to push in a second term. Mistakes from the first term usually catch up with a president in his second term. the second half of the second term is often the worst because senators who came into office on the president's original coattails are up for reelection. Accordingly, the opposition party usually makes gains in Congress.

Even by these standards, President Obama's second term is off to a terrible start.

His first term ended on a high note when he forced his terms on Congress to prevent the Fiscal Cliff. That made him cocky and let him think that he could dictate terms for avoiding the sequester. He couldn't. The sequester has gone badly for him. The immediate cuts looked like political stunts (I wonder why?). The real cuts are emerging slowly and have no sense of urgency to them.

Gun control has emerged as his major policy initiative. Since he never said a word about this in 2012 and denied being against guns in 2008, he has no mandate on this. It is obvious that most of his proposals will never pass the Senate to say nothing of the House and this could come back to haunt him when red-state senators run for reelection.

Obama's victory in the Fiscal Cliff negotiations is coming back to hurt him, too. He continues to insist on additional tax hikes allowing the Republicans to complain about his lack of serious cuts to go with the tax increases he already got.

The economy continues to under-perform. New bubbles are forming such as with the sub-prime car loans. Obama has suggested that the country return to the practices that led to the housing bubble as a way of promoting economic recovery.

But his real failures are overseas. The Arab Spring produced a mess. Egypt has become more repressive and threatens to fall apart. Muslim extremists are gaining power in Libya. Syria is a humanitarian disaster far worse than Iraq and likely to eventually end up with an anti-American extremist government.

Obama's first round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians was a total failure so he had to backtrack on his preconditions for negotiation.

Iran continues to work on nuclear weapons. North Korea already has them and is threatening to use them on the US.

Worst of all, at the Easter egg roll, a president who is known for his basketball game only got 2 out of 10 tries.

And all of that is just in Obama's first three months.

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