History has been unkind to most presidents in their second term. But need it be?
Recently, there have been articles appearing in major media either urging us to accept imperfect presidents or alternately saying that Obama will have an unproductive second term. Although it seems very unlike him, it can be asserted that Obama may have given up on having a successful second term.
Delving into the history of the second term gives some insight into where presidents have wrestled with what might have been insurmountable odds to achieve a semblance of success in that time in office. Presidents such as Washington, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Reagan and Clinton found ways to succeed in their second term despite facing hostile Congresses. An essential ingredient of success in a second term is having major sections of the president's legislative agenda pass through Congress and become law. It is easy in the present political environment to excuse the president for not having his agenda become law. It is possible that immigration could produce a victory. Gun control will not. Based on the challenges to his legislative agenda, at present it appears that President Obama will have an unimpressive second term and he does not seem to have the tools to change that.
But are there very real national problems that Obama might grapple with that would reflect a president whose innovative leadership would define his legacy? Were he to be inventive about job creation he might have the opportunity to become that rare president whose second term success rivals or exceeds that of his first term. Obama might achieve recognition for impressive leadership with a proposal for the improvement of infrastructure, the electrical grid and energy expansion based on public private partnerships formalized as master limited partnerships raising the money privately. New taxes for such projects would not be approved by Congress, but it is possible the Republicans would accept this private enterprise concept. Job expansion is the basis for growth in the economy. The jobs created and the resultant business expansion would tend to give the Federal Reserve the balance it would prefer to have when it begins to taper the purchase of bonds and actually starts to sell its huge portfolio. The rising interest rates that are expected to result would be far better absorbed by a growing economy. The expansion would tend to ameliorate the debt and deficit challenges the nation faces. One hopes that Obama will use the valuable time left in his second term to be more politically productive that he is now and thereby enjoy the accolades offered a successful second-term president.