Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

As Barack Obama turns 50, could his ‘mid-life crisis’ include fighting for his base?

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Turning 50 brings a lot of questions: How is my life? Am I doing what I want to do? Is this how I wanted things to turn out?

When you’re the president of the United States, and you turn 50, that last question is a doozy.

President Barack Obama turned 50 yesterday. What do you give the person who is the leader of the free world? Obama was quoted earlier in the week as wanting a debt ceiling crisis resolution for his birthday. The packaging was nicer than what was in the box.

Even if Obama isn’t asking “Is this how I wanted things to turn out?” — those who supported him in the 2008 campaign have been asking that question, and they aren’t happy with the answer.

Presidents have aspirations about what they want to do when they are sworn in, though they often get thrown off schedule. But even supporters of President Obama have a hard time figuring out what Obama wants to do as president.

Circumstances do change for presidents, but some battles are obvious. President Obama was warned back in December that the debt ceiling crisis was going to be problematic. George W. Bush was given a PDB in August 2001 saying bin Laden determined to attack the U.S.

And the one ace up his sleeve, the Bush tax cuts that caused most of the current deficit crisis is something Obama has kicked down the road.

Obama may enjoy these battles, seeing this as his mark for his administration. The rest of us outside the White House aren’t enjoying these battles, mostly because Obama shows his hand too quickly, and the Republicans don’t fear anything he might do.

Turning 50 for some mere mortals involves radical changes to try to find meaning in their lives, something that has been missing. Stereotypical moves involve a mistress and a convertible. Obama can’t order a fast food burger without getting flak, so very little chance of doing something mysterious.

We do understand what Obama is trying to do, sorta. He is trying to be the cool, reasonable leader, hoping that he shines as reasonable against unreasonable, such as the teabaggers. While the president is winning on style points, the teabaggers and the rest of the Republican Party are getting things done.

They have an agenda. They have a plan. They are determined to “win.” And they get upset when they don’t get everything they want. All these things are lacking in the Obama arsenal.

If Obama’s re-election bid rises or falls on the economy and job growth, then he needs to start thinking in these terms. The president needs to take the initiative and demand job growth legislation from the GOP. His leadership failures on the debt ceiling crisis have produced a deal that will slow down the trickle that passes for job growth in 2011.

The teabaggers are a significant percentage of one party that holds one house in Congress, and they are setting the agenda, and Obama stands by with a red cape. Olé.

When Obama ran in 2008, people interpreted his philosophy as being more liberal than it was, so liberals being disappointed in the president isn’t a surprise. However, independents who made bold moves to vote Democratic for the White House in 2008 are shaking their heads, and asking, regardless of age, “Is this how I wanted things to turn out?” Chances are, their collective answer is a resounding “No.”

Obama used Ronald Reagan as an example during the campaign, upsetting Democratic voters. Reagan was great at convincing you he was helping you when he wasn’t. Obama is helping people, but isn’t great at convincing people that he is helping.

At 50, Obama has it all in many ways: successful family, successful career. But at 50, a person has to want more, especially when they live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Soon, we will have an announcement about a re-election campaign. Maybe then, we’ll have some idea as to what Obama wants to do. If it takes a convertible for Obama to figure that out, those on the left would gladly buy him a car, as long as it was American-made.


Written by democracysoup

August 5, 2011 at 7:39 am

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