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Mark Goulston, M.D.

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A Non-compelling Reason to Re-elect President Obama

Posted: 11/01/2012 12:18 pm

There is a reason that President Obama should be re-elected that he will never tell us.

Few presidents ever accomplish much except in the first two years of their first term and/or the first two and half years of their second term, and especially the latter.

Why?

When a president is elected, the losing candidate tells us that we must now throw our support behind the winner and be unified. And for the first two years, it would look bad to appear as a spoilsport to vociferously undermine the new president in their first term. However after the first two years, the opposing party needs to then start stirring dissent, because it needs to focus on winning in the mid-term elections.

And then of course there is the need for a president who doesn't really understand Congress to learn how to deal with it. President Johnson understood Congress and how to deal with it which may explain his effectiveness even in addition to the desire to push through programs that JFK stood for (but may not have been able to push through had he lived). Johnson's undoing appears to have been the highly unpopular Vietnam War.

I can't think of a president in modern times that did not serve in Congress who didn't underestimate the "logjam" in Washington he would need to get through to be effective. It often takes a full term to understand how to deal more effectively with Congress and then add to that how to deal with a Congress that favors the opposing party after the mid-term elections.

Thus the best chance for a president to actually get things done is in the first two and a half years of their second term when they don't have to worry about re-election and don't have to worry about helping the campaign of their party's candidate after that second term is over.

The question is whether a president in his first term has performed so egregiously poorly that he shouldn't be given a second term.

What this boils down to is that if you want to have a president that actually accomplishes things during his presidency, it is better to elect him (or her) for two terms. Perhaps this is why the notion of a single six- or eight-year term for president raises its head every now and then for consideration.

I am an independent and based on the above I think electing President Obama for a second term to give him the chance to be more effective in the first two and half years of that term makes more sense than electing Governor Romney who will need to learn the ropes in his first term, unless what he proposes to do he can get done in the first two years of a first term.

If I were a betting man, judging the politics and gridlock of Washington, I think that is unlikely.

What are your thoughts?

 

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