ANALYSIS | Albeit in a subtle fashion, President Barack Obama has signaled that the 2012 presidential campaign has begun, and has begun to remind observers that he did not leave his political acumen to the year 2008.
Obama’s actions and announcements in recent weeks may be partly due to the Republican landslide in the November elections, and it seems increasingly clear that he is repositioning his administration, and himself, for a run at a second term.
The first unofficial act of the 2012 presidential campaign occurred on Dec. 17 when Obama signed a large tax cut compromise and, in the process, extended the Bush tax cuts for another two years. It declawed Obama’s fiercest critics coming into office now and signaled that the president was ready to deal.
While some may believe the president’s hand was forced on taxes, he has not stopped there.
On Friday, the president completed the restructuring of his economic team by naming Gene Sperling, known for his bi-partisan based work during the Bill Clinton administration, as the director of the National Economic Council.
Sperling replaces the more left-leaning Lawrence Summers, who returns to Harvard and seems to signal a more pragmatic and moderate economic approach. While liberals may likely be disenchanted, Obama seems to be following the Clinton blueprint of moving to the center after a loss of Congress and, in the process, building a larger base for the next election.
Also, Obama this week agreed to an interview with Bill O’Reilly from Fox News prior to Fox’s broadcast of the Super Bowl on Feb. 6. While Katie Couric and Matt Lauer interviewed Obama before the last two Super Bowls, O’Reilly, along with the rest of Fox News, is considered to be far right of center.
Coincidental to the interview or not, Obama and O’Reilly seem to be meeting in the middle. Earlier this week, O’Reilly somewhat surprisingly urged caution to the Republicans in opposing the president at every turn; he also came out in support of certain aspects of Obama’s controversial ObamaCare health plan.
In addition to his political and media moves, Obama seems to be demonstrating changed personal behavior as well. While on vacation in Hawaii, the president and his family went to church… generally something he does not do due to security and privacy concerns. That he attended church and allowed it to be publicized may well be an attempt to win back some of the more conservative and swing state portions of his 2008 base.
After a rough two years in office from a popularity standpoint, Barack Obama is starting to remind us all why no politician in the modern United States has risen as quickly and in as unlikely a fashion as he has. While his overall job approval rating remains low, he seems to be putting together a position upon which to base his next campaign.