Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Advice For A Second Term

While football may still be on the minds of many Americans - except for Notre Dame fans who'd probably rather forget the championship game this year - we thought it oddly appropriate this week when Secretary Hillary Clinton came back to work, and her staff gave her a protective football helmet, as a joke.

While we're glad to see Secretary Clinton back at work, the gift her staff gave her might actually better serve her current boss, President Obama, over the next two years.

It's not just the fact that the Republican Party continues to throw at President Obama whatever political bricks they can get their hands on. As evidenced by the display Monday night by extremist right-wing talk radio host Alex Jones on the CNN show of Piers Morgan, it's obvious that many on the extreme political right in America have long ago lost touch with reality.

Right-wing media hacks and propagandists aren't the only ones spewing crazy-sounding ideas right now. Piles of media pundits on both the left and right are bouncing around the notion of solving the nation's long-term debt by minting a trillion-dollar coin. Even the Nobel prize-winning Paul Krugman has considered the idea in a serious and legitimate fashion.

President Obama's second-term list of priorities isn't going to make his next four years any easier.

His list of priorities includes ending the war in Afghanistan, a comprehensive overhaul of America's immigration system, serious and effective gun safety and climate change legislation, and continuing to get America's tax and budget houses in order. The President's priorities would be a heavy lift, even in the best political atmosphere.

Still, we believe progress on many if not all of of those priorities might be achievable if President Obama had both a House and a Senate who put the best interests of the American people first - a true legislative partner at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Instead, according to the latest poll by Public Policy Polling, Americans now overwhelmingly prefer head lice, root canals, colonoscopies, and even traffic jams to Congress. At least a quarter of Americans even prefer gonorrhea and ebola to our elected officials of both parties, in both houses of Congress.

Even though President Obama has to carry all of that into his second term, even before that term has officially begun, he's already made some headway on at least two of those priorities. Discussions with Afghan Prime Minister Karzai already appear to be pointing to a withdrawal of American combat troops from Afghanistan before 2014. On the budget front, President Obama has already shepherded through approximately $2.4 Trillion in deficit reduction, with three quarters of it coming from spending cuts.

Still, the President's second term looks to be a bumpy ride for him - and for much of America too.

We've only got one piece of advice, for all those who thought things would be easier after last fall's election:

Get a helmet.

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