In the months immediately prior to an election, the President usually makes a temporary transition to be somewhat more of a political partisan. Some Presidents do it more deftly and more subtlety than others. Unfortunately, President Obama does not have a transition to make to “campaign mode.” He has branded the other party and their supporters, and even their sympathetic news outlets, as a major part of the problem from the earliest days of his Administration. Rather than ending the political bickering as he alluded to during the campaign, the President has escalated it to a new level of intensity.
The President is on the campaign trail, trying to visit all of his Democrat allies who appear to be in trouble in November, which means he has a lot of visiting to do. In today’s political climate, I am reminded of one of the campaign jokes told by former Majority Leader of the Senate and Presidential candidate Bob Dole. He used to tell friendly candidates that he would come to their states to “campaign for them…or campaign against them…whichever they thought would do them the most good.” It is an approach the current Administration might do well to keep in mind.
With the President’s approval ratings consistently below 50 percent, a visit from him has some mixed blessings to it. When U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln was in imminent danger of being defeated in the Arkansas primary for her Senate seat, it was not President Obama who stepped in to save the day. It was none other than former President Bill Clinton.
It is difficult to figure out what the Clintons are up to these days. Could it be that it has occurred to them that there is a Presidential election in 2012 and the process really starts as early as this January? It would appear that there is still a “Clinton camp” and an “Obama camp” in the Democrat party and that does not bode well for an uncontested primary for the Democrat Presidential nomination in 2012.
It appears that former President Clinton may be a more popular figure than President Obama — a trend that is likely to expand dramatically if the Democrats suffer severe losses in the November elections, and especially if some Democrats who are at risk are saved through the personal assistance of Bill Clinton.
The Administration is in trouble; much more importantly, America is facing severe challenges. The first step to recovery would be to repudiate in November’s elections the out-of-control deficit spending and out-of-step agenda of the United States Congress. The second step has to be to build a consensus in our country to actually start to solve our nation’s problems. If that does not happen soon, don’t be surprised if you see a lot more of the Clintons next year.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Public Interest Institute. They are brought to you in the interest of a better informed citizenry.
Doug Stout is a research analyst at the Public Interest Institute in Mount Pleasant.