Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fall and Winter 2013 Preview– The Potential Decline and Fall of the Obama Presidency

The Fact That It Could Happen Is Problem Enough

There is something about the fifth year of a two term President that invites disaster.  Following his massive re-election, Richard Nixon left office in disgrace.  Ronald Reagan managed a big tax reform law in his second term, but left the country with massive deficits.  Bill Clinton was re-elected and impeached.  George W. Bush put privatization of Social Security as his second term priority and presided over the disaster that was Iraq, and handed the Congress and ultimately the Presidency to the Democrats.

Now Barack Obama has placed himself in the position of courting disaster, and the courtship may well be fruitful.  His inept handling of the Syrian dilemma may well lead to the unthinkable, Congress denying the President the authority to engage in a military strike.  Mr. Obama’s ignorance of the politics of the situation is astonishing, how can he and his advisors be so smart and act so stupidly?  For Mr. Obama it appears to be a fatal case of ignorance and arrogance, he is unwilling or unable to grasp the politics of the Presidential office.

Syria is a lose-lose situation for the President.  If he loses the bid for authority, his authority in every other area of government will be weakened to the point of destruction.  If he wins he will have ownership of a very unpopular policy.  The Republican leadership is backing the President, so he won't have them to blame for his own failure, he will have only himself.

Mr. Obama also seems determined to appoint Lawrence Summers to head the Fed, when a far more qualified person, Janet Yellen is available.  Mr. Summers may well have the technical qualifications to be the next Fed head, but his personality, his arrogance, his inability to work with people make him the absolutely wrong choice.  And his prior service in government did nothing to prevent the de-regulation of the banking industry which led to the worst recession since the 1930’s.  

A loss on the Syrian resolution may well give Congress the impetus to defeat a Summers nomination.  Many Democrats don’t like him and all Republicans would be happy to vote against Mr. Summers to embarrass the President.  This then leads to a highly weakened Presidency heading into negotiation with Republicans to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government for FY2014 which starts in October.

Republican are eager to shut down the government to force their bizarre and contorted view of economics on the public.  They are afraid to do so because of the potential political costs.  But if Mr. Obama has lost all of his political capital they will be emboldened to act.  And who has confidence that Mr. Obama has the political fortitude, the political intelligence or the ability to stand firm and win a showdown? 

It is entirely possible and more likely every day that on December 31 the Obama Presidency will be in shambles, and that Republicans will capture the Senate in 2014.    The fault will be that of Mr. Obama’s, his inability to grasp the basics of governing and his unwillingness to learn.  No, this outcome is not certain, but the fact that it is the subject of discussion should alarm everyone.  And this Forum thinks it is more likely than not that the worst case scenario will occur, with the U. S. hopelessly gridlocked until January 20, 2017, and leaving the U. S. with Hilary Clinton and the rejection of radical Conservatism as its only hope.


  1. You correctly observed that Obama made a critical error when he permitted any negotiation over the debt ceiling vote the first time around. That might have been the biggest tactical mistake of his presidency.

  2. The real early warning signal, which we noted but which was largely ignored by most people was when Mr. Obama appeared oblivious in news conference to the possibility that the Republicans would use the debt ceiling to negotiate imposing their policy on the President.

    That should have set off a huge alarm about this President.