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NYT Op-Ed: Obama's Presidency Not Over Yet

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By    |   Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 04:00 PM

Many commentators have suggested that the controversies that have rocked President Barack Obama's presidency are a sign that his administration has reached the end of the road, but history shows that pundits made similar predictions of other presidencies only to see significant achievements in their final two years in office, says author and academic James Mann.

In an opinion piece in The New York Times Tuesday, the scholar in residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies noted that while numerous other presidents saw their power wane in the final years of their tenure, they still wielded considerable constitutional authority.  

"Amid broad dissatisfaction, many commentators have declared [Obama's] administration a spent force," Mann wrote. "Most of these end-of-Obama sentiments are sincerely felt, and there are plenty of Obama-specific reasons for making these judgments. Yet they all lack historical perspective."

Mann said that at the same stage of their presidencies, former presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush were being written off, even by some of their most ardent supporters, only to go to make landmark achievements.

Mann noted that Reagan's diplomacy with Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev led to the end of the Cold War in the final years of his presidency. Clinton eased the way for China's entry into the World Trade Organization during his final two years. And Bush orchestrated the successful "surge" in the Iraq war and the nation's massive financial bailout following the financial crisis.

"Mr. Obama's presidency likewise has a long way to go: in the new war with the Islamic State, on a nuclear deal with Iran, on new trade agreements, on a new immigration policy, and in areas we can't even imagine yet. So how can we explain the premature doomsaying?"

Mann also suggests that there is a natural cycle of psychology surrounding every presidency whereby the public suppresses its disappointments in the early years but feels more free to express its disenfranchisement during the second term.

Second term presidents, meanwhile, are less concerned about public approval and more willing to defy their political base as they attempt to achieve their objectives during their second terms, Mann said.

"Second-term presidents will almost inevitably look as if they are a spent force by the sixth year of their administration. And yet, despite our waning attention, there is still a very important, perhaps vital, chapter of history to be written," he wrote.

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Many commentators have suggested that the controversies that have rocked President Barack Obama's presidency are a sign that his administration has reached the end of the road.
presidency, achievements, new york times, media, opinion
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2014-00-23
Tuesday, 23 Sep 2014 04:00 PM
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