The National Catholic Review

I was just starting to read Ryan Lizza’s “The Second Term: What Would Obama Do If Reelected?” in The New Yorker when my friend Dave Baugnon, a filmmaker from New Orleans, asked me the same question. Now I find that the more I read the more a gap grows between what I would like him to do and what he will probably try to accomplish.

According to Lizza, Obama’s campaign is highlighting noble intentions like dealing with climate change and containing nuclear proliferation, but he fudged in 2010, reluctant to confront Congress, on these very issues. The old question will continue to loom of “who Obama really is:” “an aspiring compromiser, a lawyerly strategist, or a bold visionary willing to gamble to assure his legacy.” His best opportunity for a breakthrough on energy policy, immigration, or tax reform, Lizza says, would come in 2013. It is more likely that he will spend his last two years on foreign policy. If he wants to leave a mark, says Lizza, he’ll need two things: a sense of humility, and a revitalized faction of Republican lawmakers willing to make deals with the president. It seems implausible to suppose that Obama would turn radical in his second term. And if he wins in November it will be by smallest margin in history. So much for hoping for a “mandate.”

If he has time for just one big initiative, what should it be? Housing reform, energy policy, immigration, the infrastructure? Several staff members favor “a bold infrastructure package . . . what would create jobs, has a government reform component, and could establish a legacy in the form of an upgraded power grid or high-speed train, with which Obama might forever be associated.”

Today’s Obama is not the man we hoped for when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Guardian Weekly (June 8-14) lead essay is about the man who has expanded the drone missile program and personally picks the targets, determines who shall die. His “kill list” defines a militant as “any military age male in the strike zone.” What would we say about the leader of another country who applied that principle to us? David Miller, a foreign policy adviser to both administrations says, “Obama has become George Bush on steroids.” In Monday's New York Times Jimmy Carter demonstrates that the United States has “abandoned its role as the global champion of human rights.” In drone raids the deaths of innocent women and children are considered inevitable. Guantanamo still houses 169 prisoners who will never be charged because they were tortured and can’t be tried.

I would like to see Obama eat a bottle of courage pills, straighten his backbone and confront those he seems to fear most: the right-wing Israeli lobby which has no desire at all to see peace in the Middle East and a just two-state solution; and the NRA gun-lovers who couldn’t care less when they read of the maniacs who shoot down students in classrooms or the street criminals who settle their differences by murdering somebody. I think many American Jews would support Obama if he cut off aid to Israel until they dismantled the illegal settlements and reached an agreement with the Palestinians on the two-state boundaries. And the America people would listen if he really taught them why guns in your house, car and pants do not make a safer society. Yesterday’s New York Times front page says, RATE OF KILLINGS RISES 38 PERCENT IN CHICAGO IN ’12. These gang wars and crime waves are not just bad kids killing other bad kids. They are a symptom of a sick society where the poor and weak become increasingly marginalized and the idea that human lives don’t mean that much anymore can start at the top of the pyramid where high tech drones blow away terrorism “suspects” and down below frustrated, ignorant, poor, unemployed urban drop-outs solve their “issues” the same way.

Raymond A. Schroth

 

Comments

Juan Lino | 6/28/2012 - 2:00pm
LOL - "hornswoggled" - what a great word Stanley!  I had to look up the definition because I'd never seen that word before nor have I ever heard anyone use it.  I learned something new - thanks!
Stanley Kopacz | 6/28/2012 - 8:37am
We have five republican appointees on the Supreme Court and abortion is still legal.  So how many will it take?  Six? Seven? Eight? Nine?  If the republican supreme court were as anti-abortion as it is pro-corporate, women who aborted would be in jail.  The repubs haven't and never will deliver for their  abortion single-issue supporters, including the hornswoggled bishops.
Juan Lino | 6/28/2012 - 8:11am
Mary - did you read the transcripts or listen to the audio files of the discussion that took place before the Supreme Court?  If not, please do because the reasons were hinted at there.

In any event, we will find out soon what the court decides and the reans for the decision will be there. 

BTW, I admire the tale you are spinning when you write: "If the Act is repealed, it will be because of politics on the court, not because it is unconstitutional."  How could you possibly prove that statement?  
Mary Sweeney | 6/28/2012 - 1:02am
I am so puzzled about the flurry of questions around the Health Care Act and its not being constitutional because it obligates people to purchase Health Insurance.

There is precedent for this from the very beginning.
http://andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com/2012/04/the-founders-mandates.html
Or did George Washington and the Continental Congress violate the Constitution? Can't have it both ways...

As for forcing people to buy what they can't afford, that's another red-herring. I live in Massachusetts. We have mandated coverage. For the last 2 years prior to my qualifying for Medicare, my coverage did not meet the minimum standard because it did not included Rx drug coverage (as I don't use any prescription drugs) and it had a high deductible. Because of my income level, I did not pay a penalty. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes similar waivers.

If the Act is repealed, it will be because of politics on the court, not because it is unconstitutional. I fear that Americans will only realize what they have lost when it is gone. That is what happens when you don't pay attention and believe every fairy tale or horror story that is spun. But if you're up tonight, you can find out your personal outcome right here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/what-health-bill-means-for-you/?hpid=z2  Just run your numbers.
JIM MCCREA | 6/27/2012 - 5:52pm
The most significant issue and reason for Obama to get a 2nd term is THE SUPREME COURT.

We'll either get balance back or this country will be mired in more of corporate-owned government a la Citizens' United for God knows how long.

If that happens, eople will wake up and wonder what the hell happened - before they take to the streets and we'll have our own version of the Arab Spring.

And don't think that it can't happen here.  Gated communities will be a small protection from those who fear they have nothing else to lose.  There are and will be many of them.
T BLACKBURN | 6/27/2012 - 3:42pm
If one looks at the history of second terms one looks in vain for one that is better than the first. George Washington left office battered and happy be gone. Eisenhower, according to Stephen Ambrose, thought he had been a failure. (Ike! Come back! All is forgiven!) And in between and afterwards, "O grab me" acts, U.S. out of League of Nations, Watergate, contragate, not to mention assassinations. Why expect more when history suggests you will get less?

This much is sure: If Obama gets a second term, he won't be able to anything big unless he makes it a mandate issue during the campaign. Safely re-elected by a comfortable margin, George W. Bush set out to privatize Social Security. Now, that was something his backers had always wanted, but he barely mentioned it in the election campaign. So when it became Issue No. 1 his voters wondered, "Where did that come from?" And rejected it. If Obama really wants to address, say, climate change, but neglects to make an issue of it until it becomes an "oh, by the way" in his second inaugural, forget about it.

ed gleason | 6/27/2012 - 3:27pm
Wrong .. the second term will see good results.. Second term Obama [which is more than likely] will bring the Shakespeare's line into play..

"What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?—

 
Marie Rehbein | 6/27/2012 - 3:02pm
There are people who think everything is a conspiracy.  When many of the things that should be on the agenda are approached, they man the airwaves and incite opposition.  With global warming, it's those who fear a "one world" government, for which they think Obama, and most recent presidents, are puppets of corporate interests.  They get just enough information out to alarm the Faux News viewers without making themselves look like wackos.  This is an example of how it is now, so it doesn't matter what we think Obama should be doing in his second term, unless we see to it that we elect a Congress that will support him. 
Thomas Farrell | 6/27/2012 - 2:23pm
The Supreme Court's ruling tomorrow about the health-care act will undoubtedly influence President Obama's re-election campaign and whatever he might undertake in his second term if he is re-elected.

Whatever Obama's failures were regarding the health-care act, he did push for it and he held out for certain strong provisions. In short, he took a risk.

So if the Supreme Court throws out the health-care act, Obama's risk-taking will backfire on him.

So let's wait and see what the Supreme Court's ruling turns out to be tomorrow.
Juan Lino | 6/27/2012 - 1:47pm
Do you really think that a politician who endorses and expands the direct killing of innocent human life – i.e., the unborn child – throughout the world is inconsistent when he expands the drone missile program and personally picks the targets?
 
I don’t!  After all, if one believes that some persons are worthy of life, and others are not, do you really think the place to do the killing, or the collateral damage, is really a big deal?  
 
Politicians are all the same, they all talk a good game but...
david power | 6/29/2012 - 8:45pm
I know that I am a relativist when I see no difference between Obama and Romney apart  from the colour of the skin.
Ron Paul would have been America living up to it's reputation but instead it is just marking time. 
Crystal Watson | 6/27/2012 - 4:08pm
I hope Obama does get a second term.  No matter what he chooses to do, there is no way his term could be as destructive as having Romney for president.  If I had a choice for what he should concentrate on in a second term, I'd want it to be the environment .... everything else is ultimately secondary to the continued survival of all the plants, animals, and people here.