Hot on HuffPost:

See More Stories

Obama's Place in Midterm Election and the Roles of Presidents Past

4 years ago
  0 Comments Say Something  »
Text Size
Even though the presidency won't be on a ballot in November, you never know what role the occupant of the White House -- or a former occupant -- might play in the mid-term voting.
With Barack Obama's poll numbers sagging, there's already talk that Democratic candidates in competitive races would prefer not to welcome the president into their states. At this point, it seems more likely that he'll serve as his party's fundraiser-in-chief at events for the well-heeled faithful.
Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, has been working on a memoir (Decision Points) since leaving office, with the publisher wanting a September launch. But the other day, according to the Financial Times, unnamed "friends" said the former president "resisted plans by the publisher" for a potentially more profitable early fall release because he "did not want to insert himself into the midterm election campaign, where Republicans are expected to make big gains."
Publication date is now set for Nov. 9, exactly a week after Election Day. The first television interview for the budding author is scheduled for the day before, meaning he'll be pretty much under wraps throughout the campaign season.
President Obama and former President George W. BushEven if Bush and Obama are on the equivalent of the sidelines, voters can still expect a presidential presence of one kind or another come September and October. Democratic circles are already spinning that Bill Clinton will take to the hustings on behalf of individual candidates and with the larger purpose of energizing the party's in-need-of-excitement base.
A recent Gallup Poll showed Clinton's favorability rating at 61 percent (compared to Obama's 52 percent and Bush's 45 percent), and the former Democratic president has a personal motive to be visible.
Clinton will be campaigning to continue his recovery, if not restoration, from the sharp criticism he received in 2008 for statements he made supporting Hillary Clinton's run for the Democratic presidential nomination. (Two years ago, Gallup measured his favorability at just 50 percent.) Moreover, like every ex-president, he's mindful of his own historical legacy and how he can most positively influence it.
But the wildcard for 2010 might well come from the observance of a presidential anniversary rather than any former leader's participation. November marks the 50th anniversary since the election of John F. Kennedy, and that occasion promises to be noted in myriad ways. Academic conferences, notably ones sponsored by Harvard and Notre Dame, are already scheduled, and several books are timed to appear in the fall. One is titled Portrait of Camelot, and it includes a narrative by Richard Reeves, who previously wrote President Kennedy: Profile of Power (1993), with pictures by Cecil Stoughton, the first official White House photographer. In addition, the news media, which thrive on anniversaries, will certainly not let the public forget either the 1960 election or Camelot.
What direct political impact the attention focused on JFK will have is anyone's guess, and the precise influence impossible to gauge. In that respect, all you have to do is look back to the historic 1994 mid-term elections, complete with the Republican takeover of the House and Senate.
The weekend before voters went to the polls 16 years ago, Ronald Reagan released a handwritten letter that revealed he'd been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Near the end of his poignant note, which dominated print and broadcast coverage, he wrote:
"When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead."
The extent to which Reagan's painful disclosure -- with its sunny outlook amid the approaching darkness -- evoked sympathy and helped the Republican cause was never measured. The revelation came as breaking news right before Election Day.
The timing, though, remains a curiosity for political analysts to ponder. Could the consequential 1994 results have been, at least in part, the Gipper's final victory?
Whether 2010 will produce its own version of a presidential surprise bears watching, as this campaign season with its difficult-to-chart unpredictability unfolds.

Our New Approach to Comments

In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around. Please read our Help and Feedback section for more info.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum Comment Moderation Enabled. Your comment will appear after it is cleared by an editor.

Comments

Filter by:
dc walker

Its funny how we can see the same political players day after day on TV and in the press and come away with different ideas of who did what right or wrong. We are the ones being played by the parties. It is our feet that are in cement. I find those who are in the DC area get more of the DC talk shows and other parts of the country do not. When you have people who actually work in the government giving opinion based on their experiences, when they attack wrong comments and provide proof one gets a more complete view of politics. I'd like to see a show on TV where both sides actually DEBATE the issues without shouting at each other and settle polilcy once and for all rather than hear the same tired defenses.

August 09 2010 at 6:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
BEVERLY A GOLD

I hope the American people wake up and vote an independent in. Or Ron Paul would be good.But if we don't change course we are done.

August 08 2010 at 9:39 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
Mekhong Kurt

I've been musing over whether the Democrats can benefit from this year marking the 50th anniversary since JFK was elected. I'm not sure they can make a very strong tie-in on that in particular, but I do see another possibility that might let President Obama be a bigger player in the waning days of the campaigning in October. To wit: the Cuban Missile Crises of October, 1962.

Not that I hope we have such a terrible confrontation ever again, but President Obama will be at exactly the same point in his presidency as JFK was in his own. As we all know, JFK backed Kruschev down; by late November, all the Soviet missiles and bombers were out of Cuba. More importantly for the 2010 elections, the resolution was reached in late October, which this year will be just before the elections.

While there's nothing on the horizon anywhere near so dramatic as that toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, the one that many believe was the closest we ever came to nuclear war, I would think there would be a way to make some sort of tie in, to no small degree that just as JFK was the first Catholic President (causing considerable controversy and consternation), Obama is the first African-American President.

The Democrats need something to stir excitement, of which they have little right now. That need is starkly underlined by the fact that the Republicans do have the ever-colorful Palin and the Tea Party. (Though I don't think the Democrats would benefit at all by trying to find equivalents of either one.)

The Democrats could also benefit by going on the attack just as ferociously as have the Republicans, Tea Partyers, and people such as Rush Limbaugh.

Finally, they could probably benefit if they could somehow get an advance copy of President Bush's book, presently scheduled for release a week *after* the election. But if the D's could get an advance copy, they could refocus some attention on the Bush years.

This sort of musing is distasteful to me, as it makes me feel like I'm imitating a James Carvel or Karl Rove, but there it is anyway.

August 08 2010 at 7:46 PM Report abuse -13 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mekhong Kurt's comment
tistolaugh

That's an interesting premise. But, God help us if there is a national security emergency, because if they handle it anything like the past two years, we're in deep trouble. That said, most are not nearly enthused about stirring excitement that places American lives in jeopardy just to make Obama and Dems look good. And I don;t believe anyone is buying Dems trying to focus on Bush any longer. Obama and Biden and the Dem Congress played that tired old card out with the constant blame months and months and months ago.

August 08 2010 at 8:04 PM Report abuse +11 rate up rate down Reply
okitori

CJ
Why don't you ask the Obama administration hw he racked up $13.5 Trillion Deficit and what the Dem Congress did to increase the deficit during the last 2 yrs of the Bush admininstration?

This isn't to absolve the Repubs for the predicament we are now in--but where does it stop? The excessive spending with no way to pay for it is leading future generations into a bleak future.
The latest bill Pelosi is supporting could well be paid for from the remaining $ of the Stimulus Bill instead of allowing worthless projects to continue. Do we really need to know how cocaine affects monkeys? or a sidewalk leading to a ditch, or windows for a un-opened building (I am sure you can think of other frivilous expenditures.)
Instead of adding (or borrowing) another $26 billion, let's use the remaining Dollars in the Stimulus that hasn't been spent. If Obama would limit his AF One from touring the country to support Dems, the taxpayer could save a few more $--after all when he was elected, he did say he was the Pres. for all people in the US--now what is it? only the Dems?

August 08 2010 at 7:26 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
okitori

Has anyone realized that the Dems owned Congress (House & Senate) in 2006? I find it interesting that no matter what bashing Bush has received from Obama, he has remained a gracious man and kept his opinions to himself. Stand-Up guy.

Now we look forward to the next few months of Obama on vacation and then flying around the country campaigning again--(if his fellow Dems will invite him.)
This man spent 1 yr as a Senator campaigning for Pres. (while the taxpayer paid his Senate salary)and now he will spend the next 2 yrs campaigning again. It's great when all he has to do is read someones words from a teleprompter and lead people into a frenzy. You know how the crecendo of his speeches intensify!!! Meanwhile the taxpayer is funding his travels to campaign. I thought I remember he said he was going to be the Pres. for all people--is he campaigning for any Repub that I don't know about?

August 08 2010 at 6:48 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to okitori's comment
christierandall

actually he has done a great job considering what he has had to deal with...

August 08 2010 at 7:06 PM Report abuse -21 rate up rate down Reply
ialbel

Obama has a myopic view of his place in the world. He believed what he told voters in the election, but his visions are as unrealistic as his paper thin resume. He is great at running for president, but ill equipped for the real job at hand.
He is revealed in the 19 months he has occupied his current resident.
Perhaps come 2012 he will see the "For Rent" signs on the lawn at 1600 and realize he was not the owner, but only a temporary guest.

August 08 2010 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply
andrc657

The republicans made quite a mess when they controlled things.

August 08 2010 at 6:23 PM Report abuse -26 rate up rate down Reply
tnickerson08

johnblack; If obama is doing so much for samll business then why did we need to extend unemployment, or why did we need to give the states 60 billion to keep govenment union employee's?

August 08 2010 at 5:56 PM Report abuse +21 rate up rate down Reply
Kenneth

Obama's position during the mid terms. The safest place for him would be to stay in the white house. Most of the democrats running for reelection are fighting an up hill battle already with out Obama adding an anchor.

August 08 2010 at 4:53 PM Report abuse +18 rate up rate down Reply
sysaphus71

This President and his administration should take pride in all they have accomplished.
They have ,without all that much effort, energized a grass roots movement that is now aware, awake,informed and result oriented.
We should all be thankful that a resurgence in God and country will now be played out in November. And the best part...there will be a clear winner and an even clearer loser....we just have to do our part on election day and sit back and watch....kinda makes me feel warm and fuzzy all over...happy days are here again in less than 86 days

August 08 2010 at 4:43 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply

Follow Politics Daily

  • Comics
robert-and-donna-trussell
CHAOS THEORY
Featuring political comics by Robert and Donna TrussellMore>>
  • Woman UP Video
politics daily videos
Weekly Videos
Woman Up, Politics Daily's Online Sunday ShowMore»
politics daily videos
TV Appearances
Showcasing appearances by Politics Daily staff and contributors.More>>