Barack Obama

Obama's 'Second-Term Blues' Have Begun

The short honeymoon usually gives way to scandal.


Last Wednesday marked the anniversary of President Clinton's historic pronouncement, in the 1996 State of the Union, that "the era of big government is over." "Not by a long shot," President Obama seemed to say in his second inaugural last week.

It was "a surprisingly liberal speech" remarked MSNBC's Chris Hayes: Obama warned us we were in for a "long and sometimes difficult" march toward "sustainable energy sources" and—because this president "reject[s] the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future"—perhaps a presidential war on math.

Maybe it's the era of "collective action." "Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action," Obama insisted—but given his frequent, first-term recourse to government-by-fiat, you could translate that to "expanding my administration's power requires unilateral action."

Obama put it more delicately in an exclusive interview with the New Republic last week, allowing that "a judicious use of executive power can move the argument forward or solve problems that are of immediate enough import that we can't afford not to do it."

On Friday, in Canning v. NLRB the D.C. Circuit begged to differ. Obama had violated the Constitution with recess appointments of three members of the National Labor Relations Board, the court held.

In a tart reprimand, Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote that the president's attempted end-run around the Senate confirmation process, "would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases," on the "weekend," over "lunch," or even, as in this case, "when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law."

Congress hasn't been nearly so bold in defending the Constitution against the president's various assaults. But at Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) confirmation hearings last week, Rand Paul (R-Ky), the Senate's libertarian gadfly, showed once again that he knows how to spoil chummy comity on the Hill:

"I agree with candidate Barack Obama who said in 2007 that the president doesn't have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack," Sen. Paul told the nominee: "I'd like to know if you agree with candidate Barack Obama or if you agree with president Barack Obama, who took us to war in Libya without congressional authority."

Kerry waffled his way through several weak rationales, finally settling on, "the problem is, it just doesn't work in some instances."

We're a long way from sufficient congressional push back on unauthorized presidential war-making. But Congress is certain to push back hard on Obama's "legacy project," using the bully pulpit to push new gun control legislation. That effort is more likely to result in electoral backlash than in sweeping new restrictions.

Recounting the problems of "lame-duck presidents" in Presidential Studies Quarterly, political scientist David A. Crockett notes that second terms are characterized by "sixth-year curses" and "second-term blues" for reasons ranging from "re-election hubris, administration fatigue, [to] leadership failure." The short honeymoon usually gives way to scandal (think "Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Clinton impeachment, [and] Katrina") and "a second midterm loss that's usually worse than the first."

In the run-up to Obama's re-election campaign, we saw a rash of speculation about the president's mood. "Does Obama really want to win?" the Washington Times asked; "Is Obama Depressed?" a Fox News panel debated on "The Five."

I'm not much for long-distance psychoanalysis, but if this president does tend toward the melancholy, before long, he's really going to need a hug. The "second-term blues" are on their way.

NEXT: Egyptian Protesters Defy Curfew

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Obama could always revive himself by eliminating armed guards for himself, and his family, and establish Gun Free Zones around them instead.

  2. “Does Obama really want to win?” the Washington Times asked; “Is Obama Depressed?” a Fox News panel debated on “The Five.”

    Meanwhile, at MSNBC…

    1. Sharpton: Is Obama ready for Mt. Rushmore

      Only if the good reverend brings his own mallet and chisels.

      Godspeed Al….let us know how it’s going!

  3. Hm, I seem to recall an opportunity to avoid second-term blues altogether, but I also seem to recall the American People were more concerned about Free Stuff and a nonexistent War on Women to take advantage of the opportunity.

    For further reference, this atheist recommends a sitdown with the book of Hosea.

    1. You will never need an abortion therefore nobody should care about it, right?

      Why do women care about the kind of freedom libertarians ignore?

      1. Yeah because abortion was in so much fucking danger. I think the ability to publish a newspaper and have a right to a jury trial are really important rights too. But amazingly enough, those were not important issues to vote on in the last election, since neither side seemed to want to eliminate them.

        Yes pretending that one side plans to take your right to something is a pretty fucking stupid way to vote.

        1. NDAA. Both sides took away your right to a jury. All they have to do is brand you as “affiliated with terrorism.” and you get no rights.

      2. You will never need an abortion therefore nobody should care about it, right?

        Why do women care about the kind of freedom libertarians ignore?

        Because abortion, such as it is is a medical procedure that only potentially affects approximately 50% of the population (even with the generous assumption that every woman in America will obtain one), is a lesser concern when compared to taxation which affects nearly 100% of the population, and due process (remember the NDAA and terror Tuesday?) which also affects nearly 100% of the population.

      3. What a profoundly imbecilic argument. Two candidates make stupid statements that even the socons rail on and there’s a deep and abiding Republican plot to outlaw abortion.

  4. After gun walker and Benghazi it’s hard to see how anything scandalous can touch his ass.

  5. The smelly little turd, even on his very best day, couldn’t begin to fill the shoes of a President Dwayne Camacho.

    1. Hey…how bout a little respeckt…it’s President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho!

      1. Whats with the idiocracy references lately?

        1. Life imitates art!

      2. Hey, nothing but respeckt here. Unfortunately, we’ve missed our chance to have a president we could all respeckt.

        Instead we ended up with a silly sissy little petty tyrant. No respeckt for President B. Hussein Pantywaist. Nope, none at all.

        1. I’m tempted to drop a “sit yo monkey asses down” ….but I won’t!

        2. At least now, when it all comes crashing down, they can’t point to the Libertarian we elected President and, wrongly, blame the downfall on the free market.

          1. No, instead it will be those libertarian obstructionists who gummed up the works and kept us all from experiencing Obamatopia just because they’re selfish cunts who hate poor people and wimmins.

  6. Given the kinds of people who elected Obama, what can libertarians do to overcome the “hey, free stuff from the cool black dude” mentality that gives politicians the justification to ever increase the size of the government?

    1. Obama a “cool black dude” ROTFLMAO!!

      1. Kind of have to agree with JG here. “Cool black dude” and Obama don’t really belong in the same sentence.

        1. To his SWPL fans, he is.

  7. Not to sound pessimistic or anything, but our side is royally screwed. While the image of most conveyors of the classical liberal, classical conservative and libertarian traditions are depicted as mean-spirited nutcases, liberal-progressivism is usually seen as the rational, compassionate ideology. Until that shit is rectified, we’re done.

    Obama was exposed for all to see as the mediocre hack that he is during that first debate and he came away with victory.


    We just have to keep hammering the message. Keep Reason alive. Support Le Quebecois Libre. Use a “on the other hand” approach to your friends and family. Even then, you enter a strange, Kafka-like world where you’ll hear people complain about things that were really liberal-prog initiatives and when you bring that up they look at you with blank stares. As if what’s before them was meant to be this way. Liberal-prog ideas are the default button for the masses.

    We’re screwed.

    1. Well, it will turn eventually. In a debate between the majority and mathematics, mathematics eventually wins. Of course, honest men of good will might not care any more for the arguments mathematics winds up bringing to the table any more than the thugs and moochers. But, mathematics doesn’t much care.

    2. “Obama was exposed for all to see as the mediocre hack that he is during that first debate and he came away with victory.”

      True, but what alternative did Romney propose?
      Obamacare was modeled after romneycare, romney wanted to continue the ware, wanted to continue obama’s assault on civil liberties, his spending cuts were a joke so how could people distinguish him from Obama? The social issues, which Romney himself pushed hard during the primaries and still during the presidential race.

      Romney lost because he offered no real alternative plan other than not being Obama and being against gay marriage and abortion, you can’t win with that.

  8. Until that shit is rectified, we’re done.

    Until that shit is rectified we (the nation) runs out of money, we’re done. Of course we might possibly stagger on for another 100 years.

    Shit! We are screwed!

  9. …if this president does tend toward the melancholy, before long, he’s really going to need a hug.

    Don’t look at me. I only hug people I care about.

  10. I think the dude is doing a FINE job!

  11. I think that this might be wishing thinking on the part of CATO and Mr. Healy.

    The President might well be even broadly satisfied* with how his second term will have gone by the end of 2016.

    Will potential successor President Biden/Clinton/Gillibrand/Warren/Cuomo/Camacho appoint him to the Supreme Court?

    One way or another, President Obama is destined to remain a major political force in our lives for the most of the rest of this century.

    *not necessarily that the Reason readership will be satisfied (or that I would satisfied)

    1. haha. he’s the next Bill Clinton. A disgrace of a President that will be set up for decades as the Liberal ideal. He’ll be the Ronald Reagan of the Democrats.

      1. Speaking of which, have you read the new and improved Christian Bible, courtesy of the Ministry of Truth and Reconciliation?

        Bask in the glory of the anti-profit prophet, revel in the erudition of his timeless wisdom, here quoted from the Obamessiah’s Sermon on the Mountain of junk that used to be Detroit:

        “Vote, and it shall be given you
        Desire, and ye shall find
        For if a rich man attempteth to enter the building
        He will be looted in the name of justice

        What doth it profit a man
        To work for himself, when his brothers are in need
        And he didn’t build that anyway, everybody and nobody else did

  12. “Will potential successor President Biden/Clinton/Gillibrand/Warren/Cuomo/Camacho appoint him to the Supreme Court?”

    I worried about that once. But since he never could be bothered to write a word on constitutional law while a constitutional law professor, I doubt he’ll take that as a day job.

    He’s much too important to write Supreme Court decisions. He has more books about himself to write.

  13. Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world

  14. s power requires unilateral action

  15. Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately require

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.