From the day Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008 the Republicans have done everything in their power to nullify that victory. It has become clear that his election was more than a defeat, but rather an affront to the very core of the GOP. For that reason they have attempted to block virtually every legislative effort, denounce every diplomatic effort and decry every economic effort of his administration. When they have been unable to block legislation, as in the case of the Affordable Care Act, they tirelessly denounce it, attempt to repeal it and sabotage it on a local level. Where in the past a terrorist attack overseas was seen as a non-political bipartisan tragedy, now the GOP makes every effort to politicize it and cast blame. They have even seriously questioned his qualifications to be president by questioning the place of his birth. Finally, they have questioned his loyalty to this country by questioning his religion. Never has a president confronted such a constant onslaught of dishonest assertions and political obstructionism lasting not only through his first term, but into his second term as well.
As President Obama moves through the second year of his second term toward the midterm elections, the question that looms over the White House is what he will be able to accomplish in the two and half years remaining in his Presidency. Normally a president is considered a lame duck during the last twelve to eighteen months of a second term. This is particularly true when both parties are in search of a presidential candidate and the primaries loom ahead. However, we are now a year or more away from that period and I contend that the GOP is working very hard to establish President Obama as a lame duck now. By doing so they reduce his ability to accomplish much and move further towards their ultimate goal of diminishing his Presidency and his legacy.
The question is how can they accomplish this so early? The answer is very adroitly. While the pundits have been scratching their heads asking why Karl Rove would raise Hillary’s health now, and why would Boehner appoint a special committee on Benghazi now, the answer is in plain sight. The conventional wisdom is that both of these efforts are to get a head start on a presumed campaign against Hillary in 2016. They have even considered that this may be an effort to pressure Hillary to think twice before throwing her hat in the ring. I think that they are wrong on both counts. I think that the GOP is saying something entirely different. I believe they are trying to send out a very strong signal saying, “President Obama, you are off of our radar, we have skipped to 2016 and you are an irrelevant lame duck”. What better way to diminish a president than to make him prematurely irrelevant?
They may succeed in this effort if the Democrats allow them to. If the GOP takes control of the Senate and increases its hold on the House it will make it almost impossible for President Obama to accomplish much during the last two years of his presidency. He will have to rely on Executive Orders and the power of the veto. Equally important, the GOP will have the legislative power to potentially undue much of what the president has accomplished. If they win big in the midterms they will not only make him an early lame duck, but potentially wipe out and nullify much of his presidency. By doing so, they will have accomplished what they set out to do the day Barack Obama was elected in 2008. Voting in November couldn’t be more important.