The Economist observed that with three million more Americans are out of work than four years ago, and the national debt $5 trillion bigger, the question is what Obama intends to do with another four years. Saturday’s Wall Street Journal featured a page-one story by Carol E. Lee and Monica Langley with this revelation:
Over his first term, Mr. Obama, 51 years old, has fundamentally shifted his view of modern presidential power, say those who know him well. He is now convinced the most essential part of his job, given politically divided Washington, is rallying public opinion to his side.
As a result, if he wins a second term, Mr. Obama plans to remain in campaign mode. “Barack is grayer, but he’s wiser from the battles,” says Charles Ogletree, a friend and one of Mr. Obama’s professors at Harvard. “This time Barack will use the bully pulpit.”
The Journal doesn’t review Obama’s record of campaigning on the one issue he took before the public in a big way during his first term. That would be Obamacare, of course. The more he talked the deeper it tanked in public opinion. You have to wonder if Obama believes his own BS. If so, that’s where a friend like Ogletree could serve a useful purpose (assuming Obama would keep him as a friend after the reality check).
The Journal story recalls Obama’s self-assessment of his one acknowledged shortcoming during the past four years: his failure “to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.” So there’s that.
Oh, and don’t miss this: “He has concluded that he was slow to understand or embrace the role of president as a kind of national counselor.” Hey, there seems to be a pattern here.
As for the achievements to which he might devote himself in a second term, the Journal’s team of reporters (including two contributors not acknowledged in the byline) offers this with a straight face:
The president views a second term in some ways as a second chance, an opportunity to approach the office differently, according to close aides. He would like to tackle issues such as climate change, immigration, education and filibuster reform.
A second chance? Translation: “Please give me a mulligan.”
Climate change? Yeah, man, that’s the ticket. Save the planet in your second term. Time to get serious about slowing the rise of the oceans and healing Gaia.
Immigration and education? You’d think policies promoting economic growth might figure somewhere in the top three, but no.
Filibuster reform? With Republicans having a reasonable chance of picking up a Senate majority, somehow I doubt it. I guess it depends.