Monday, September 06, 2010

The President of the United States is stuck on stupid.

The major problem with the Obama presidency is that Obama himself is too politically weak to rein in a completely inept, out-of-control Congress.

The roots of this phenomenon appear to go back all the way to the fallout of the Clinton trial in the Senate in 1999. The major political effect of the Clinton trial was to discredit the conservative leadership of the Republican party to the extent that a Republican moderate, John McCain, was able to seize control. Control of the Republican party gave McCain a clear shot at winning the Republican nomination in 2000. McCain also wasn't shy about leveraging his party power to increase his odds of becoming president. He was more than willing to open the Republican primaries to the general public in order to build a Republican moderate/independent/liberal voting alliance to defeat the conservatives. I think it can also be taken as a given that Pat Buchanan didn't leave the Republican party by accident in 1999.

By the 2000 primary season, McCain winning the Republican presidential nomination was almost a fait accompli. Of course, the conservatives fought back and managed to engineer the presidental nomination of a fusion candidate, George W. Bush (i.e. Mr. "Compassionate Conservatism"). The end result was a situation similar to the Tyler administration: a conservative president with a weak base of support squaring off against a de facto party leader who is master of the Senate.

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008 represented the same process occuring in the Democratic Party. After the 2000 elections, both Bill Clinton and Al Gore ended up being weakened as Democratic party power brokers. Clinton spent most of his time earning megatons of money for his wife's future presidential bid. Al Gore left formal politics to launch into a new career as a climate crusader. This left the Democratic party in the hands of the Democratic master of the Senate, Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy's first candidate for the presidential nomination was his own protégé, John Kerry. After Kerry's loss of the presidency to Bush in 2004, Kennedy ended up forging the Massachusetts-Illinois alliance that led to the nomination of Obama in 2008. Obama was chosen to be the nominee because of his obvious non-qualification for the position, his personally immunity to criticism in the mainstream media, and because he was personally enough of a cynical "operator" to accept being a presidential puppet.

The end result is that Obama has quickly morphed into perhaps the weakest president in all of American history. He has done nothing to lead the United States on any question. His legislative achievements in office all consisted of him free-riding on his Democratic Congress, acquiescing in whatever legislative mish-mash they decide to send to him. His presidency has consisted of golf and going on vacation; he is literally a president with nothing to do.

The end result is a massively strengthened Republican party that is going to ride a tidal wave of support into this year's elections. Paradoxically, this is expected to lead to a strengthening of the Obama presidency. Why? Because the mass extinction of Congressional Democrats will leave Obama alone as the remaining major party leader. Whether this will be enough power to get Obama re-elected in 2012 will be the next question.

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