The incredible shrinking PresidentPosted: June 9, 2014
Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller!
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
For NY Daily News, Walter Russell Mead writes: Less than two years after voters gave President Barack Obama a strong mandate for a second term, the White House is struggling against perceptions that it is losing its grip.
At home, the bungled rollout of the Obamacare website and the shocking revelations about an entrenched culture of incompetence and fraud in the VA have undercut faith in the President’s managerial competency.
“…Why, then, does a feisty President with more power than any of his peacetime predecessors, one who is determined to use those powers to the max, look so much a victim of events he can’t control?”
Abroad, a surging Russia, an aggressive China, a war torn Middle East and a resurgent terror network are putting his foreign policy credentials to the test. With the GOP hoping to seize control of the Senate in November’s midterm elections, and the inevitable decline in presidential power that occurs as second term presidents move toward lame-duck status, Obama risks being sidelined and marginalized for the remaining two years of his term.
Last week’s tempest over the Bergdahl exchange seemed to roll all the President’s troubles together into a single storm. The decision to free five Taliban fighters from Guantanamo in exchange for an American soldier with a complicated past energized the President’s opponents, befuddled and angered important Congressional allies, and renewed questions about the political instincts of the President and his closest aides. The White House apparently thought that the release would be a moment of national unity and celebration and arranged for Sgt. Bergdahl’s parents to meet Obama in a highly publicized Rose Garden ceremony that now looks like a huge political blunder.
It’s been a long and bumpy road to this point. Few American presidents came into office viewed with so much optimism and hope. Obama was swept and re-swept into office with a clear expectation that being smart — or at least not being stupid — would be enough to mend fences around the globe and at home. Things aren’t so cheery now, and not being George W. Bush may not, it appears, be sufficient.
Obama is not, however, prepared to pick up his toys and go home. Stymied in Congress, where a coalition of Republicans and red state Democrats have effectively blocked his major initiatives in both the House and the Senate, the President is determined to use his executive powers to carve out a legacy whether Congress likes it or not. The new EPA regulations to cut CO2 levels from power generators and his decision to sidestep Congress on the release of five Taliban prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for Sergeant Bergdahl show a White House anything but resigned to the prospect of presidential decline….(read more)
Mead is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Policy and the Humanities at Bard College, and edits the American Interest Online. Follow him on Twitter@WRMEAD
- Bergdahl Says He Was Tortured by Taliban Captors (abcnews.go.com)
- Bowe Bergdahl Exchange for Five Taliban Detainees Outrages Congress (guardianlv.com)
- Congress twice rejected Taliban-Bergdahl swap (wnd.com)
- Bergdahl Escaped: Hillary Still Stuck on ‘Who Cares?’ (deadcitizensrightssociety.wordpress.com)
- Senator Dianne Feinstein: No Evidence of a ‘Credible Threat’ to Bergdahl that Motivated White House to Free Him (girlsjustwannahaveguns.com)
- Feinstein Questioning White House Over Taliban Threat To Kill Bergdahl (weaselzippers.us)
- WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The Incredible Shrinking President: Hour by hour he gets smaller and smaller!… (pjmedia.com)