Six weeks of lame-duck legislating should be more than enough to convince President Barack Obama: Two more years of this would be a drag.
Obama scored more legislative victories than at first looked likely following the Democrats’ drubbing in the midterm elections. But the session winding down this week also highlighted in painful ways the narrow lanes in which Obama is operating—cutting deals but on terms that were largely set by other Washington players.
He’s confined on the right by the incoming Republican House majority and the reality of deep budget deficits. He’s confined on the left by his own sullen Democrats, including many liberals who will be quick to protest if they feel Obama is selling them out or lurching cynically to the center.
Obama’s cramped circumstances, according to numerous veterans of previous White Houses and other experts, highlight his urgent need to reinvent his presidency—discarding the Congress-focused strategy of the first two years and coming up with new and more creative ways to exercise power and set the national agenda. See: (Obama makes the sale)
“He needs to be CEO of America,” said former Clinton White House chief of staff John Podesta, an Obama sympathizer who ran his transition to power after the 2008 election and is now urging him to dramatically refashion his presidency.