If there’s one lesson that can be taken away from the 111th Congress’s lame duck marathon session, it’s that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Barack Obama, mere weeks after a “shellacking” by the American electorate, was back in full egotist mode. The president held a superfluous press conference during which he gloated:
This has been the most productive post-election period we’ve had in decades, and it comes on the heels of the most productive two years that we’ve had in generations.
Although one might quibble with the second half of his statement, the first part is factually accurate. This post-election period has been preternaturally action-packed. But what does it all mean, and what impact if any will it have on Obama’s chances for reelection in 2012?
An editorial that appeared in the Washington Times at the outset of the lame duck session sounded a cautionary note about a Congressional leadership that, despite an historic rebuke by the American electorate, was intent on ramming through as much additional legislation as possible in their waning days of power. The article reminded readers that the 20th Amendment ratified in 1933 “was hailed as a means of doing away with the excesses of lame-duck sessions and making Congress more responsible to voters.” Will this lame duck session impress some voters as an act of brute force by a party whose wings had been clipped?
Some Republicans, like Sen. John McCain, would answer yes. Others, possibly including Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who worked with the Democratic leadership in hammering out a last-minute solution to the first-responder bill impasse, might be inclined to say “Not so fast.” The scope of accomplishments by the lame duck Congress, which includes a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and ratification of the START nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia, is impressive and couldn’t have been completed without bipartisan support.
All of which has some left-leaning members of the political class declaring the president a political “Lazarus,” flying high mere weeks after being given up for dead. Liberal pundits, too, are dreaming not only of a White Christmas but of a black president with a lock on a second term beginning in 2012. To those individuals as well, one might be inclined to say “Not so fast.”
As Jon Ward writers at The Daily Caller:
Obama’s accomplishments are likely to be mere foothills compared to the heights that the president and Congress will be forced to scale in the months ahead. The impact of the lame duck on his reelection prospects in 2012 will almost certainly be small.
Even as true blue a Democrat as Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen is quoted as saying in an interview with The Daily Caller:
It’s given him a good post-election boost. Obviously he just came through a very difficult midterm election. I think the passage of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a major victory, not just for the president but for the country. That being said, none of that guarantees any kind of smooth sailing next year. We’re going to face some very tough decisions right out of the box.
Among the issues that will face the 112th Congress and the president will be the soaring national debt. Along with that there will be the looming specter of ObamaCare, which was crammed down Americans’ throat and which 55 percent would now like to see repealed.
It might be argued that the president is off to a good start having declared that fixing the broken economy will be job 1 in 2011. On the other hand, his having claimed in 2009 and 2010 that the economy was job 1 may give some less than a reason to celebrate.
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