Preparing for 2013
Obama's Second Term: Not the Second Coming
In what I suspect will be the first of many pieces to follow on a similar theme, Eli Lehrer begins thinking about how to prepare for Obama's second term:
Quite simply, modern American presidential incumbents have tended to lose only by crossing their own base and Obama hasn't done this. He'll have a huge war chest, a mobilized Democratic base, and, most likely, an improving economy. For all this, there's some reason to think that--contrary to a lot of speculation from the Right--that a second Obama term won't be an unmitigated disaster for conservative priorities.…When presidents have achieved significant things during their second terms in office, they have happened either because the other party forced their hand (Bill Clinton's balanced budget) or in areas of policy the president alone dominates (Ronald Reagan's signature on the Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty.) Every lesson of history suggests a second Obama term would mean a weaker presidency. Even if Obama does harbor secret fantasies of transforming the United States into a giant Marxist kolkhoz, in other words, he won't be able to put them into practice.
While lack of cooperation is still more likely, Eli notes that there is still the possibility of finding common ground between the two parties:
The more interesting possibility is this: Obama will attempt to remain relevant by taking a page from Bill Clinton's playbook and triangulating the more extreme parts of both parties. And this is a real chance for moving forward on key conservative priorities. Democratic Party support for a Paul Ryanesque "premium support" approach to Medicare reform already appears to be gaining steam (the Progressive Policy Institute has signed on) and the President could "save Medicare" while moving the budget towards balance by hitching his own cart to the bandwagon. A Social Security reform that reduced benefits for well off people while upping incentives for employers to contribute to 401(k) plans also seems like something that could get Democratic Party support if the president signed on too.
An optimistic assessment to say the least, but one that more Republicans may have to start thinking about.