Somebody's Got a Bad Case of the Second-Term Bushitis


At National Journal, Ron Fournier lays out nine analogues between George W. Bush's generally disastrous second term and Barack Obama's. From the top:

Bush wasted no time plotting an expansive vision for his second term, ordering speechwriters to produce an Inaugural Address that made "ending tyranny in our world" official U.S. policy. His domestic agenda included changes to Social Security, immigration, the tax code, and court-clogging litigation rules. Obama unleashed an aggressively liberal agenda in his second Inaugural Address, promising to combat climate change, loosen immigration restrictions, curb gun violence, and expand human and civil rights.

Bush and Obama made the same mistake. Both men convinced themselves that they were reelected because of their agendas, rather than because of negative campaign strategies that essentially disqualified their rivals—Democrat John Kerry and Republican Mitt Romney. In fact, many of the issues claimed as presidential mandates in 2005 and 2013 actually received relatively little attention from the candidates and from the media in 2004 and 2012.

This is Fournier's most-interesting point (IMO):

3. First-term success haunted the second term. The increasingly unpopular Iraq war Was an issue in 2004, even after Saddam Hussein's capture, but Bush had managed to finesse it for reelection. Obama's white whale was the Affordable Care Act. In both cases, luck ran out after Election Day. The death toll rose in Iraq during Bush's fifth year. For Obama, the federal health insurance website didn't work, and millions of Americans lost their insurance policies despite his promises to the contrary.

Both presidents deceived the public about their signature policies, and their credibility crumbled. Insularity hurt both teams. Vice President Dick Cheney famously said the Iraq insurgency was in its "last throes." Obama and his advisers characterized catastrophic flaws with the ACA website as "glitches."

Read the whole thing.

Of course, history doesn't have to repeat itself but there's a lot of reasons to believe that Obama will start becoming less relevant to his own party any second now, especially given that the Dems need to figure out who will be their standard-bearer in 2016 and beyond.

For all the legitimate yapping about internecine battles within the GOP, at least the Republicans have a pulse and a bench of people jockeying for power, status, and the future of the party. Where is the next generation of Democratic leaders? The vice-president is not just a joke but at the twilight of a career; Hillary Clinton represents a bridge to the past, not a superhighway to the future. And that's about it. There are no Democratic governors with much to tout and the congressional folks are with ancient or invisible. In a Young Republicans poll of Millennials of all political persuasions, the only name under-30 Dems tossed out was Cory Booker, who is now a do-nothing senator from New Jersey.