Category Archives: Obama

Obama’s State of the Union – Quick Round-Up

More on President Obama's State of the Union later, but a quick round-up here of views from the more supportive commentators of what looks like a reinvigorated president, determined not to go out with a whimper, but to make sure everyone knows he's a liberal and wants to secure a liberal legacy.

British ex-pat Andrew Sullivan has always been a supporter, and his live-blogging of the State of the Union on his blog the Dish is well worth a read through; in particular his early comment here and his round up of other blog reaction here.  On is the view from Jamelle Bouie that Obama is a "liberated Liberal", while John Dickerson on the same site describes the speech as one that was designed to steamroller the Republicans - a thoroughly partisan effort.  Fred Caplan applauds Obama's "wise" foreign policy aims but suggests his execution hasn't been quite so in tune with his aims.

The BBC at last has, in Jon Sopel, a North America editor who seems to understand what makes Obama tick and his view that the speech was an aspirational challenge to his Republican opponents is here.

I've noted before that Obama is not going to go quietly into the sunset of his political career, and his 2015 State of the Union shows what a president with fire in his belly can still do with the executive office, even when he's in his 'lame duck' years with a congress against him.    With his poll ratings rising too, Obama might even be able to dust off FDR's old phrase that "everyone's agin me, except the voters".  

Obama has no intention of letting Republicans write his political legacy

President Obama shouldn't by rights be entering 2015 with much political joy in his heart. He may still have two full years as chief executive to run, but the set-back of the mid-term Republican gains, which saw that party gain control of the Senate and keep control of the House of Representatives, meant that his chances of any satisfactory legislation in the remainder of his presidency are precisely zilch.

If anything, though, the Republican win seems to have fired the president up to make sure he finishes his final term on a high.  He clearly has no intention of letting the Republicans dictate his political legacy and, as this New Republic article suggests, he may also be seeking to ensure that any Democratic successor - most people think Hillary Clinton at the moment -  has something to fight for and preserve in 2016.

Obama made an impact when, not long after his party's mid-term defeat, he went on the offensive over deferring deportation of illegal immigrants, using the executive order to do so.  He's been at it again in his bid to normalise relations with Cuba.  Clearly, the executive office is going to be the source of much pro-active agenda-setting, and the essentially negative Republicans in the elgislature may find themselves on the wrong end of the Obama executive presidency.

As Brian Beutler suggests in New Republic, Obama will have to be wary of over-using executive orders, but there are ways in which he can stake out his legacy and give Hillary something to fight for by appealing to his still very large political base.  After all, he has the largest electoral mandate of any politician in the country.

Obama has already done much to re-shape America, and rescue international affairs from the disasters of his predecessor's foreign policy.  It looks as if he is far from finished and that the next two years might even see a liberated president, with no more elections to fight, pursue some of his most distinctive policies yet.  The Obama story is far from over.

Obama Shows How You Do Leadership

President Obama has issued an instructive lesson to any weak-minded British politicians who might be minded to try and follow the UKIP line on immigration in order to appease the voters.  Don't.

After having received a drubbing - or at any rate watching his party receive one - in the mid-term elections, you might expect the president, faced with a Congress now wholly controlled by his opponents, to lie low.  Not a bit of it.  Believing in the justice - even morality - of his cause, President Obama has shown how you do leadership.  You stay fighting for your principles, and you do so in a way no-one can possibly misinterpret you.

The immigration issue is as toxic in America as it is over here, but at least in America they have a leader willing to tack against the simple bigotry of hating immigrants.  That is not so clear in the UK.  Where Obama has used his executive power to protect some 4 million "illegal" immigrants, the Conservatives' most recent pronouncements suggest they might be keen to deal with the paranoia surrounding UK immigration by, er, embracing it.

Away from the specific issue, the president's move throws the issue of executive power into the spotlight, helps to secure a huge Hispanic vote for the Democrats, and almost begs the Republican hard liners to come out fighting and opposing it.  Now that is sublime politics.