Is Lame Duck Obama Ready to Fight?
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.
-President Theodore Roosevelt, speech, Paris, France, 1910, a year after leaving the White House
Many on the left gave up on Barack Obama years ago; or else they were convinced from the beginning he was just another stooge for the nation’s corporate and military elite. His blackness was just an electoral novelty, not unlike the novelty of a Bush father and two-son dynasty or a Clinton marriage dynasty. The right, of course, has been effectively disabling Obama since the beginning, an effort that has now achieved some level of gloating satisfaction with the mid-term rout of Democrats.
Fox News and the leaders of the Republican Party assumed the rout was a silver stake through the president’s heart, leaving him no choice but to kowtow to their triumphant leadership.
But not so fast. Is it possible Barack Obama is so pissed off by this smug notion of having been driven to the mat that he’s now ready in the last two rounds to get up and fight?
There are indications: Immediately after the midterm election, he announced a secret deal with the powerful President Xi of China on carbon emissions. It relies on the good faith of both nations to adhere to the promises agreed to, but it establishes a cooperative process between two potentially hostile powers instead of letting the matter fester while rattling sabers. It’s long view thinking reliant on science instead of the usual quarterly-focused crisis-managing. It’s a crack of light suggesting there might be a future without doom and gloom and war without end. The deal seems to recognize US decline as a reality to be adjusted to. Obama followed it up with an announcement of a $3 billion injection of funds to the developing world to encourage them to join the US/China effort.
Next, President Obama made it clear he’s going to use his power of prosecutorial discretion to extend a friendly hand to some five million illegal immigrants mostly from Latin America. Times center-right columnist Ross Douthat suggests this is “creeping caudillismo” on a scale unprecedented in American political history.