In the euphoric glow that inevitably descends after a hard-won electoral victory, it is very easy to get caught up in the excitement of possibilities. Indeed, the mood of some supporters of U.S. President Barack Obama following his re-election was that happy days are, if not here again, then at least near again: The economy is recovering, and all of the wishes put on hold during the first term, especially once the election campaign was in full swing, could now be put back on track.
As a result, Obama now faces a double dose of temptation. The first is natural to any U.S. president elected for a second term: the desire to shape a lasting legacy, a decisive set of achievements for the history books that will ensure that future historians rank him among the top tier of former chief executives. Yet, every second-term president over the past 30 years -- Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush -- overestimated the amount of political capital their re-election generated, and each was also distracted by scandals that further limited their freedom of action. Obama has an additional burden: the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded in 2009. Should he feel the need to retroactively justify his award by taking bold and risky initiatives -- opening direct talks with Iran, for instance, or trying to impose an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement -- the second-term trap could easily be compounded. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $11.99 monthly or $94.99/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- After U.S.-China Climate Deal, India Feels the Heat on Growing Emissions
- Strategic Horizons: Understanding the Enemy: Inside the Mind of the Islamic State
- The Realist Prism: Even After Midterms, Obama Faces Hard Choices on Energy, Climate
- As New Space Powers Emerge, NASA More Unreliable as Partner
- Global Insights: Hagel Launches New U.S. Defense Initiatives to Address Old Problems