- Beretta leaves Maryland over gun laws, heads for Tennessee
- Neal Boortz defends Hillary Clinton for representing child rapist
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Top federal judge uses pizza to explain complex Obamacare situation
- Obama, Biden overhaul job training programs
- Drought-plagued Californians turn to paint to keep lawns green
- ISIL now forcing Iraqi shopkeepers to veil mannequins in Mosul
- 11 parents of Nigeria’s abducted girls die
- Genetic mapping triggers new hope on schizophrenia
- Turkish P.M. Erdogan won’t speak to Obama, but he’ll take calls from Biden
Obama seen facing big issues, legacy impact in second term
Question of the Day
It’s hardly a secret that Barack Obama, like every president no doubt, muses about his ultimate legacy and spot in the presidential pantheon. He approaches his second term confronting tough and shifting challenges that will play big roles in shaping the rest of his presidency and his eventual place in history.
In the coming months, Mr. Obama will have to decide where to be ambitious, where to be cautious, and where to buy time.
He draws political strength from his surprisingly easy re-election in a bad economy. It’s partly offset, however, by Republicans’ continued control of the House, plus their filibuster powers in the Senate.
Some of the big issues awaiting the president’s decisions are familiar, long-simmering problems. They include immigration and the need for a tenable balance between taxes, spending and borrowing.
Another issue, gun control, jumped to the national agenda’s top tier this month after the massacre of first-graders and teachers in a Connecticut school. And the issue of climate change remains unresolved.
Veteran politicians and presidential historians say it’s almost impossible for Mr. Obama to “go big” on all these issues. Indeed, it might prove difficult to go big on even one. While some counsel caution, others urge the president to be as bold and ambitious as possible.
“Americans are yearning for leadership,” said Gil Troy, a presidential scholar at McGill University.
Rather than let Congress take the lead on big issues, as it did in drafting the 2009 health care overhaul, Mr. Obama should be more forceful in pushing new legislation or using his executive powers to bypass Congress where possible, Mr. Troy said.
“The gun-control issue is a major opportunity for Obama to make his mark on history — and solve a problem that has frustrated Democrats for decades,” he added.
Other presidential historians, however, think Mr. Obama is severely constrained by political realities. They say he will have to carefully pick and choose which goals to emphasize in his second four years.
“I see Obama as almost uniquely handcuffed by circumstances,” said John Baick of Western New England University. The number of big, unresolved problems facing the nation, coupled with a deeply divided public and Congress, he said, leave Mr. Obama with fewer viable options than most presidents have enjoyed.
At best, Mr. Baick said, the U.S. government “is a gigantic cruise liner, and the most he can do is keep us from hitting icebergs.”
For instance, he said, “if he goes big on gun control, then it’s 1994 all over again.”
Then-President Clinton pushed an assault weapons ban through the Democrat-led Congress that year, prompting fierce pushback from gun-rights groups.
Mr. Clinton later would credit the NRA with shifting the House majority to the GOP for the first time in 40 years. However, other factors — including a House bank scandal — played big roles, too.
TWT Video Picks
The president could pay the full price for ignoring Congress
- David Perdue defeats Jack Kingston in Georgia Republican Senate primary runoff
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- 'Straight White Guy Festival' supposedly set for Ohio park
- D.C. appeals panel deals big blow to Obamacare subsidies
- Beretta moving to Tennessee over Maryland gun laws
- BERMAN & MADYOON: An Iranian-Turkish reset
- MAY: Barbarians at Jordan's gate
- EDITORIAL: Obamacare in intensive care
- Pentagon team dispatched to Ukraine amid crisis with Russia
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq