Those of us who are either worried or ecstatic about the prospect of a one-term Obama presidency should calm down, says The Journal Gazette's Tracy Warner. Other presidents have looked bad halfway through their first terms and recovered quite nicely:
In August of his second year as president, his approval rating dipped to 39 percent, partly because he was so heavily criticized over his plan for health care reform.
Elected as a centrist, his critics cast him as a social liberal. Just 19 months into his presidency, his re-election chances looked iffy, at best.
President Obama? Try President Clinton.
Well, yes, but Clinton was the consummate politician, and when the polls told him he was going too far left for the country, he "triangulated" and tacked back to the center. Barack Obama is too much of a committed ideologue (a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your own political persuasion) to do that.
Another president was elected on a platform of hope for America and change, but the slumbering economy kept going downhill after he took office.
Unemployment was bad when he began his presidency, but it got much worse. Less than two years on the job, half the nation disapproved of his job as president.
President Obama? Try President Reagan.
But Reagan pushed through policies that energized the private sector, especially the small businesses so vital to job creation. Mostly he got government out of the way. Obama, on the other hand, has increased government intervention massively and scared the hell out of small businesses, guaranteeing a prolonged recession.
Obama may indeed recover enough for a second term, but it won't be by emulating Clinton or Reagan. He'll have to find another formula. There's a clue to how he might do it in Warner's last sentence on the subject: "Critics who have already declared Obama cannot win re-election in 2012 are way early to make such predictions, especially considering the GOP's lack of great candidates." If it's too early to write off Obama's chances, it's also too early to dismiss the GOP's "lack of great candidates." There are some very promising ones out there. But the Republicans are perfectly capable of screwing up and choosing a lousy one.