12/17/2013 08:57 am ET Updated Feb 16, 2014

Democrats Still Solid for Obama

I appeared on Al Jazeera America's morning TV news show yesterday and was asked about what Democrats think of Obama as he enters the second year of his second term. Most observers, I said, are keenly aware of the pitfalls of a second term -- Eisenhower's U-2 incident that blew up his summit with Khruschev; Nixon's Watergate; Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal; Clinton's impeachment; George W Bush's Hurricane Katrina and the US economic collapse. Amplifying on some of my remarks, I said that, despite the foul-up of Obama's Affordable Care Act, the NSA surveillance imbroglio, even the crisis over the drone attacks, there is still wide admiration and affection for the president among Democrats -- and that, in my view, very few Democratic elected officials are actively distancing themselves from him. After all, Obama has already established two extraordinary landmarks -- serving as the first African-American president and being one of the few Democratic presidents to win a second term. Obama's latest speech talking about the need to cure the curse of inequality in our land has stirred the hearts of Democrats. Obama's past accomplishments -- the stimulus bill, saving the auto industry, the Dodd-Frank act, lowering tuition costs for students, withdrawing troops from Iraq and from Afghanistan, killing Ban Laden, etc -- all still gain credit for him. Finally, there is a general understanding among his party members, too, that, given Republican intransigence on the Hill, Obama is not likely to get much legislation passed in his second term. But nonetheless through executive actions and using the White House bully pulpit and via judicial appointments, Obama can still influence the direction of the country and help establish the terms of the political debate for the upcoming 2016 presidential election.