I think it is fair to say that for the past six weeks President Obama was widely regarded much like golden brown turkey; stick a fork in him, he's done. But apparently this is not so. The turkey is still flapping.
In the past 12 days or so, President Obama has put some significant points on his personal political scoreboard. Public pronouncements to the contrary not withstanding, the first goal of every politician is to get elected and re-elected. These political points may have come by accident; they may have come by design, but points for re-election they are.
The first key to re-election is to avoid a primary challenge. If that cannot be done, to beat a primary challenger. To those who watch politics like watching a football game, it has not been hard to see Democratic players shaping up strategies to challenge the President in the Democratic Primary. Chief among the potential challengers has been Hillary Clinton.
If there is one thing that has been proven during the past two decades, the Clintons have more comebacks than Dracula in a horror film. You had better chop off the head, stuff a clove of garlic in the mouth, drive a steak through the heart, and soak with Holy Water. With the Clintons, even after that, even if you nail the coffin lid down, they still have a tendency to rise again.
That said, Hillary Clinton's political future has just been shot with a silver bullet fired by Wikileaks. I have heard at least one political commentator assert that Wikileaks has been allowed to operate because, until this week, it has furthered the President's agenda. The commentator wondered if the executive branch of the Federal government can shut down a website selling counterfeit fashion accessories within days of the legitimate manufacturer complaining, why is it that Wikileaks has not been shut down?
The first two disclosures by Wikileaks were bad for our efforts in Afghanistan; a war the president may want to untangle us from. However, the biggie, was the release of a quarter of a million embarrassing communications involving the State Department. The State Department headed by Hillary Clinton. The same Hillary Clinton who has had to spend weeks apologizing to governments and ministers around the world. The same Hillary Clinton who this past week announced that she has no plans to challenge President Obama in the coming Democratic Primary. By accident or design, these are big points for President Obama.
This January will see a huge shift in the Congress. This week, the President and leading Republican congressmen announced a compromise on tax rates for the next two years. The compromise would extend the current tax rates for the richest Americans. This outrages many Congressional Democrats. The compromise brings back the estate tax, however at a 35 percent rate, rather than the 55 percent rate it would have been. This makes both the Republican and Democrat faithful unhappy for opposite reasons. Finally, this compromise spends several hundred billion in new "unfunded stimulus" programs. This makes the Tea Party fueled Republicans fume.
This compromise makes the political faithful from both parties fit to be tied. One of the best ways to know whether you have reached a good compromise is that both sides are unhappy. Job WELL DONE! In the end, to get re-elected, you have to make 51 percent of voters happy. Most voters aren't at the extreme of either political ideology. The fact that both extremes are unhappy means that 51 percent of voters will likely be happy with this compromise even if is not "right for the country" as both extremes insist.
Political pragmatists have been wondering since mid-term election whether President Obama can "pull a Clinton." "Can he successfully reshape himself into a centrist?" It is widely accepted that there is no love between the Clintons and the Obamas. Yet, this past week, President Obama pulled the ultimate Clinton. He pulled out President Clinton for an impromptu news conference. As President Clinton continued to speak at great length (who would have guessed!) President Obama excused himself to allow President Clinton to continue to speak for the administration unsupervised.
President Clinton is to rank and file Democrats what President Reagan is to rank and file Republicans. What better feather can President Obama stick in his cap than the support of President Clinton?
President Obama is clearly not done. He is clearly not a fool. It is equally clear that he will continue to make 40-plus percent of Americans unhappy. However, he will definitely fight for the 51 percent he needs for re-election.