Ex-Time Editor Isaacson: Is Obama Just Running Out the Clock?

Friday, 08 Aug 2014 05:43 PM

By Cathy Burke

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President Barack Obama, who's been criticized for losing interest as Obamacare, immigration reform and his economic initiatives face stiff opposition, must choose if he'll "race against the clock" in his final two years or "run it out," ex-Time magazine managing editor Walter Isaacson writes Friday.

In an opinion piece for Time, and the Aspen Journal of Ideas, the "Steve Jobs" author writes the president has a "fresh team" in place, and initiatives for restoring economic opportunity on the table. 

But it remains to be seen if he can muster the energy, focus and drive to follow through.
"For the final two years of his term, President Obama could stay above the fray and recognize that it would be pointless, given the dysfunctional nature of Congress, to try to accomplish anything significant," Isaacson writes.

"A rational calculus of risks and rewards, and a sober assessment of the possibilities for accomplishing anything in Washington, would argue for that approach," adding: "But I can’t help but hope that he decides to race against the clock rather than run it out."

Isaacson writes that Obama's "two monumental achievements" during his presidency – Obamacare and helping to reignite the economy after the 2008 crisis – are both in danger.

"Obamacare may be undermined if the Supreme Court guts subsidies for the federal exchanges," Isaacson writes. "If so the sweeping nature of the reform will survive only if Obama mounts a rousing, state-by-state campaign to rally passion for protecting the new health benefits."

"As for rescuing the economy, this could be remembered as a hollow victory unless the recovery restores economic opportunity for all Americans," he adds, writing inequality of income, wealth and opportunity is the "economic, political, and moral issue of our time."

Isaacson writes the president "seems ready to make" the restoration of economic opportunity "the defining passion of his final two years," but challenges him to make the choice "whether he’s going to play his final two years as the back nine of a casual afternoon of golf, coasting toward the clubhouse of former presidents, or as the final quarter of a tight basketball game."

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