The Realist Prism: Can Heavy Building Wait as Obama Puts Out Electoral Fires?

The Realist Prism: Can Heavy Building Wait as Obama Puts Out Electoral Fires?

I am happy to report that, despite my fears, no dead fish arrived on my desk as a result of my last WPR column, in which I suggested that the best way for President Barack Obama to secure his fragile foreign policy gains would be to announce that he would not run for re-election. But while many readers found the piece to be an interesting intellectual exercise, the near-unanimous reaction was that this scenario would never occur in the real world.

My concern was that the growing preoccupation first with the midterm elections, then with a re-election campaign in 2012, would begin to draw away the administration's energy and focus. Already, the president's attention as well as that of his team has shifted. As David Rothkopf observed last month, ". . . it's already November in Washington. Every decision is cast in the context of the mid-term elections. No risk is too small to sidestep. No decision is too trivial to triangulate."

The problem is that the timidity and cautiousness engendered by the demands of electoral politics will likely preclude the introduction of new, dramatic policy initiatives. Rothkopf continued:

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