President Barack Obama has faced the bipartisan critique that his campaign and presidential personas infrequently align. From the right, he’s a career campaigner, devoid of the leadership needed to man a taco cart. From the left, he’s the great conceder, waiting to sell a talking point you voted for in order to claim compromise.
On Tuesday, while speaking above an ornamental Congress, President Obama let out the secret everybody knows: he loves campaigning and he’s good at it. Utilizing the same focus which finished the national careers of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, President Obama embraced his second term for what it is — a perpetual campaign aimed at the 2014 midterm elections.
The seeds for this were planted earlier in January. Organizing for America, President Obama’s campaign apparatus that wielded never-before-seen levels of grassroots involvement throughout both his presidential campaigns, recently converted to Organizing for Action — same organization, same strategic operations (get money and volunteers), but a different game. This time, Organizing for Action orchestrates the coordinated effort to make President Obama’s second term agenda our reality. Their only avenue for success requires a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and 60 votes in the Senate before President Obama begins collecting his presidential pension.
The President has a legacy to define. Fortunately for him, the loyal opposition cannot corral its members under any banner outside of “no.” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s rebuttal targeted only those older than half a century, and with less melanin than the contents of Michael Jackson’s grave–a voting bloc Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis secured centuries ago.
Because one underwhelming response from the minority party is never enough, Republican Sen. Rand Paul treated us to the rebuttal’s rebuttal. In his thirteen minutes, Paul perpetuated the lie at the foundations of both his, his father Ron Paul’s careers — the US is headed for financial ruin, runaway inflation, and astronomical interest rates if we cannot immediately slash our budget. Of course, none of these are coming. According to the Department of Labor Statistics, inflation for 2012 was 2.1 percent. Since 1970, the US has exactly five years with lower rates of inflation. Interest rates on government bonds are also at historic lows. Like his father, the entirety of Rand Paul can be dismissed in a solitary paragraph.
With an already-floundering opposition, President Obama used the State of the Union Address to couch his second term vision in the language of extreme moderation, going so far as to ask for nothing but a vote on new gun laws — what could be less partisan than asking for a vote? –seizing the middle ground and leaving a lost conservative base with the options of establishing a concrete agenda, or compromising significantly to their left. The first shots of the 2014 midterm elections have been fired.
Brian Marceau can be reached at email@example.com