ANALYSIS -- As mentioned yesterday, the legacies of two-term President's are rarely what we expect them to be. Obstacles to progress can undermine a President's legislative agenda, and President Obama faces many. Congress is divided and compromise appears unlikely. The nation is burdened with a sluggish economy and crushing debt. It would appear much of the President's political capital will be spent in pitched battles with Republicans over the need for budget cuts and revenue increases to curtail massive deficits.
As mentioned yesterday, there are far-reaching legacies the President could achieve in his second term without the help of a belligerent Congress. You can read that article here:
But the President also faces unseen obstacles which could potentially derail his second term. Scandal has been the biggest pitfall for Presidents. Clinton (Lewinsky), Reagan (Iran-Contra), Nixon (Watergate) and Truman (Administration Bribery) all had to deal with them in their second terms. George W. Bush had the economic crisis define his second term. The domestic upheaval over the Vietnam war overwhelmed Lyndon Johnson's second term. Here are some obstacles beyond the current state of government gridlock which could impact President Obama's second term.
Obstacle #1: Rep. Nancy Pelosi: Republicans demonized former House Speaker Pelosi in the 2010 mid-term elections, decrying the radical 'Obama/Pelosi Agenda,' and it worked like a charm. While a powerful and historic figure, the grandmother from San Francisco is also a polarizing one. Pelosi's politics are far to the left of mainstream America, and many conservative House Republicans loathe her. There was speculation Pelosi would leave Congress after the 2012 elections. Instead, she's staying on as House Minority Leader. Pelosi has been good about staying in the shadows the past couple of years, but if the President wants bipartisan help to pursue his second term agenda, it's hard to see how Pelosi can help him achieve that.
Obstacle #2: Obamacare: The President's signature achievement to date, the 'Affordable Care Act' remains somewhat unpopular with the American people. The manner in which it was enacted seemed to contradict the President's promise of 'Hope and Change.' Remember controversial deal-making to get it passed such as the Cornhusker Kickback? Others doubted Obama's claims of insuring everyone without reducing the quality of care or raising costs. As tax increases for 'Obamacare' start to kick in, it's looking more and more like those doubters may have been right. Even supporters concede that the law needs some fixes, including measures to better control costs. If Republicans can portray the law as raising taxes and costs on 300 million Americans to pay for the health care of 30 million, Democrats could pay the price in the 2014 mid-terms elections, making the President a particularly lame 'lame duck.'
Obstacle #3: A Joe Biden Presidential run: It's been awhile since a sitting Vice-President has run for his boss's job, and it is easy to forget how uncomfortable that can be. Both Vice-Presidents Al Gore and George H.W. Bush faced the added dilemma of trying to succeed Presidents who were more charasmatic than they were. Biden would face the same problem. Complicating matters even more is Biden's reputation for having a big mouth. Remember how he infamously 'outed' the President on the gay marriage issue? If Biden does run, he'll naturally play up his role as Vice-President to sell the public on making him Commander-in-Chief. An indiscreet comment or two ... or three or four ... could wound the President's agenda. A Hillary Clinton candidacy against Biden would make Obama's position even more delicate politically.