Josh Ernest has referred to Obama's proposed budget and executive actions for his last two years in office as "Obama's 4th Quarter", sidestepping any suggestion that it's more about setting the agenda for the 2016 election. As Super Bowl football fever has hit America, I will keep that football analogy and put my perspective on a winning game plan for America and for how President Obama can finish out the mission that he had started in 2009. With a Republican controlled Congress for 2015 and 2016, many have questioned him, calling his new initiatives a desperation move, a "Hail Mary" pass perhaps, destined to fall short of the end zone. But no matter how dire the situation looks, there is still hope. Just ask the Seattle Seahawks about their 4th Quarter miraculous comeback. Obama's "Team America" still has over 22 months left until time runs out on the clock on November 8, 2016. And they have a winning attitude.
After the Democratic Party debacle in the November, President Obama has taken the field on offense, proposing what pundits call a "bold set of initiatives" that he further elaborated upon in his 7th State of the Union (technically the sixth) speech, a speech full of confidence and energy, reminiscent in ways of his 1st speech to a Joint Session of Congress on February 24, 2009. In that first speech six years ago, America was feeling the effects first hand of the Bush tax cuts for the rich and an economy built on voodoo trickle-down economics that favored the Wall Street big time gamblers, and that resulted in an economy in a free fall at the end of 2008 and early 2009 with jobs being lost at the rate of 700,000 jobs per month on the day of Obama's inauguration as president.
After stopping America from entering into another depression with a hard fought for stimulus package and barely getting his signature Affordable Care Act over the line in his first year, for the next five years Obama's other planned actions like closing Gitmo were often stymied by Republicans. He was often being forced to play defense, with Republicans swatting down his passes with impunity, relishing in knocking the first black president down in the eyes of the electorate with false innuendos and an endless parade of low life surrogates for the rich disparaging him on the Fox News bully pulpit. It was a largely successful Republican campaign that led to many Americans and some of his own teammates to doubt him.
Obama's game strategy defined before 2009 was about hope and change, but while the hope was always there, the change certainly proved more difficult. In retrospect, he was perhaps slow to recognize that Republicans were playing by a different set of rules, applying ruthless tactics dictated in large part by big money fat cats sitting up in the luxury boxes, acting always in their own best interests and not those of the American people. For the last six years it has been a Republican plan based on fear...a fear of the black man and what his liberal ideas might do to change the course of America, but nothing of substance to advance the best interests of all Americans.
The initiatives now laid out in Obama's 2015 SOTU speech include many of the same things he talked about seven years ago in his first campaign for president. Pundits have called them bold, but only in the sense that they expected Obama to "lie down" and take the customary lame duck role of a president whose party was roundly defeated in the November election. What they seem to miss, however, is that Obama's initiatives are not all that bold, and many are in fact embraced by a majority of Americans, though not necessarily the Republican politicians they elected to office. An agenda calling for raising the minimum wage, equality of pay for women, paid sick days and family leave, enhanced tax credits for child care, free community college, tax relief for the middle class, higher taxes on the one percent and closing tax loopholes to pay for those programs, immigration reform, closing Gitmo, lifting the Cuba embargo, protecting the environment and taking measures to combat climate change, while threatening to veto any actions to repeal Obamacare are all things that Americans can embrace, especially if they are informed of the facts.
So as we embark on 2015 with Republicans victories just two months behind them, and the 2016 elections on the horizon, some pundits are suggesting that Republicans will change and be more compromising and accommodating to Obama, noting that many of his proposals of the past had historically garnered some bipartisan support. I do not believe it. Maybe on a trade deal and military actions against ISIS, you might find some common ground. You are also hearing some of them pretending to shift positions on issues such as inequality to appeal to a broader base, much like the many McCain and Romney flip flops that the gullible mainstream media actually took as serious in those previous presidential campaigns, but were rather exposed for their hypocrisy and dishonesty.
In any case the "base", those Republicans that live in Republican gerrymandered safe districts, do not have to yield an inch on their "no compromise" game plan. They cannot change their ideological thinking, and certainly not for this president who many of them hate. So it will be the same ole heavy hitting Republicans at the line of scrimmage ready to stop anything he does, just as they planned it on January 20, 2009 when several of them met in secret to discuss ways of sabotaging the Obama presidency. That "Stop Obama" plan is the only Republican game plan that many of them have ever known for the last six years. There is nothing else to it...it is confined to stay between the hash marks, void of any serious ideas or vision that could help lift up middle class Americans and the less fortunate. Nothing else matters to them.
Nevertheless, as formidable and successful as Obama's opponents have been in implementing their game plan, the rejuvenated 2015 Obama that we saw in the SOTU is playing offense again...fired up, ready to go. Obama's Team America winning game plan for the next two years will not be about throwing desperation Hail Mary passes, but rather doing "end-arounds" while also chipping away at the Republican phony front line, slugging out two or three yards at a time, getting down and dirty in the mud, being relentless, day after day, week after week, month after month, exposing the lies and the emptiness of their macho talk. He will make them fear him again...make them whine. America hates whiners.
And in being persistent he will be able to strike a chord with many Americans and start them thinking critically about the issues that really affect them. That at least is the hope for the 4th quarter. Of course it is not expected that those Americans who have been totally indoctrinated to the billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Fox News daily fear mongering about the "black Obama" will be swayed. For the others though, as Obama said in his SOTU speech, he will be crisscrossing America, expanding the playing field, to promote his initiatives to the American people, the "12th Man" that needs to engaged and shouting and cheering loudly...making lots of noise before every Republican debate and defining the issues to be debated. Like Clint Eastwood debating an empty chair, Obama can use the bully pulpit to make his presence felt at every one of those debates, forcing them to explain their positions on the issues when Obama has already explained his.
Obama may not be able to carry the ball into end zone on each of his initiatives, especially those that tax the rich to help the middle class, but he should be able to move the ball down field enough that come November 2016, he will have changed the hearts and minds of many of the Americans that matter, the 99 percent. And that would be a winning strategy, not to necessarily ram through all of his proposals across the goal line himself, but rather setting up a healthy Team America for doing battle beyond 2016. When Obama is gone from the playing field what is left of the Republican Stop Obama strategy will be exposed as an empty shell with nothing inside...no new ideas that would really help the middle class electorate to be inspired to vote for them. Then it will be Hillary's ball to carry into the end zone.
Republicans will certainly make a lot of noise leading up to the 2016 election, and will muster up their base with catcalls directed at Hillary of "Benghazi, Benghazi!" a worn out discredited platitude that they will play again and again, not unlike the "Secret Muslim, born in Kenya" falsehood applied to Obama. And if Joni Ernest's rebuttal speech to Obama's SOTU is an indication, the only domestic issues that will really matter to them is the repeal of Obamacare and the approval of the Keystone pipeline.
So game is on. I predict that over the next 22 months the Obama policies outlined in his SOTU will become a winner for the American people.
Obama is a winner.