Obama's Toughest Year Ahead?
The best President Obama can say about the arrival of the new year is that he won't have to face the voters in it, either directly for reelection or in another midterm test of political strength like the one that dealt him a self-styled "shellacking."
He now has ahead of him a two-year stretch to try to restore at least a modicum of the public support -- not to say adoration -- that greeted him on his election in 2008. But not only is the bloom off that particular rose, a newly empowered
There's nothing new about that
For all the more lofty observations of Speaker-designate
The idea of opening the new session of the House with the full reading of the U.S. Constitution is good theatrics and a bone tossed to the muscle-flexing tea party movement. The most likely result, however, will be endless wrangling over interpretations of what this or that article of
One dispute certain to be aired will be the controversial feature in the Democratic health care reform law, derogatorily labeled "Obamacare" by its opponents. That is the mandate that all Americans buy health care as a means of lowering individual costs.
In the Republicans' 2010 midterm campaign pledge to repeal the law, they have challenged the applicability of the Constitution's Article I, Section 8 stipulating
Obama and the Republican leadership in the waning days of the 2009-10 congressional session achieved a breakthrough compromise on extending the Bush tax cuts for two years, and Obama in the process won
Their anger muffled the historic accomplishments of his first two
For a president who entered office with his party in control of both houses of
Although both McConnell and Boehner have expressed willingness to work with Obama in the days to come, McConnell has made clear such cooperation will come only if the Democratic president moves "in our direction." And the incoming speaker has pledged a new, more assertive Republican management of House affairs.
All this augurs an uphill struggle for the president as he gears up for his expected reelection bid in 2012, focused politically in restoring his very strong 2008 support among independent and black voters while striving to renew the faith of disappointed liberal Democrats.
Considering the Republicans' own focus on rolling back Obama's achievements of the first two years, especially in health care reform, he will be obliged to spend much of his time defending them. Fortunately for him so far, no Republican leader of great stature has yet emerged to lead the opposition's charge.
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