For Obama, Survival Is the New Winning

The President figured out how to leverage a thumping victory from relative weakness.

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Brooks Kraft / Corbis for TIME

Obama attends a campaign rally in Richmond, Va.

That kind of — brace yourselves for a Washington dirty word — compromise could take both parties months to embrace, and they may not get there in the two years or so before second-term Obama starts into the falling glide path of a lame duck. It is far from clear that men like Republican congressional leaders Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have the vision, temperament or muscle memory to get behind a commonsense deal. For that matter, they may not have the power inside a party purged of moderates. Democrats, meanwhile, are largely shorn of their own moderate fringe, and they did not give Obama an unchallenged cakewalk to renomination in order to have him make cuts in the entitlement programs that are the party’s defining legacy.

Will Obama’s re-election “clear away a lot of the ideological underbrush” in Washington, as the President predicted in the days before the election? The question may start generating answers quickly. The government is racing toward the so-called fiscal cliff, when an assortment of tax and spending issues deferred by both parties until after the campaign will demand action all at once. That’s the first place to look for signs of a new dawn in Washington.

Obama goes into those talks with a stronger hand to play than his Election Day numbers might suggest. His principal campaign promise, a return to Clinton-era tax rates on top earners, is poised to drop effortlessly into his lap on Jan. 1, when the current lower rates expire. If the GOP decides to negotiate on taxes — a big if — that might be the moment. Other automatic triggers are set to enact unprecedented cuts in Pentagon spending, which will be more popular among Democrats than Republicans. In other words, a plunge from the cliff — which many economists say is a recipe for a new recession — will cause enough pain to Republicans that the GOP may decide to deal after four years of disciplined resistance.

But it’s more likely that both sides will find a way to kick the can (or most of it) down the road again. After all, little in the election results suggests that the public voted for a different approach. Who knows? The parties may find it easier to make a grand deal on taxes and spending after taking a tumble from the cliff. Much of the pain would already have been incurred at that point, and reforms could be sold as salve, not castor oil.

An Infinity of Deficits
There were trends, perhaps, in the down-ballot initiatives. Voters endorsed same-sex-marriage rights in three states: Maryland, Maine and Washington. Marijuana was legalized in Colorado.

But a deliberately small and vague campaign came to an end without clarifying America’s largest and most vivid challenges.

Unemployment remains high, particularly among the minorities and young people who were decisive for Obama on Election Day. Educational attainment, compared with other nations, is lagging at a time when global competition demands a sharper workforce. In fact, the percentage of Americans participating in the labor force is shrinking while enrollment in disability and retirement programs is growing. In other words, a larger safety net is being held up by a smaller number of workers. At the state level, that plays out in the form of a more than $1 trillion shortfall in promised pensions, which is forcing cities from coast to coast into default. At the federal level, the imbalance between workers and pensioners is revealed in an infinity of budget deficits for which neither party has a solution.

An improving economy would certainly help with these problems. After more than four years of the worst numbers since the Great Depression, there have been a few hopeful glimmers: steady (though weak) job creation, slow (but measurable) growth. The housing market is a bit stronger. The percentage of Americans who say the nation’s on the wrong track is lower than it has been in years. How long this tepid recovery will last, though, is guesswork. Economists say a follow-on recession is a possibility as long as Europe staggers on the edge of fiscal unraveling and China’s once explosive double-digit annual growth cools to mid–single digits. Overseas, the Middle East seethes on. The U.S. prepares to withdraw from Afghanistan like a fist from a bucket of water — hardly leaving a trace. Next door, Iran draws closer to a nuke. Next door, Syria is burning. The leading powers of Asia — China and Japan — are at loggerheads over control of resources and bragging rights in the South China Sea.

The question always comes up after a presidential campaign, but especially in tough times: Who would want this job? And so it is worth remembering, always, that credit goes to the men and women who are willing to put themselves on the line, because it is often unpleasant and never easy but always vitally important. Barack Hussein Obama and Willard “Mitt” Romney stepped up to the fight this year; they campaigned doggedly (if not always well) and opened themselves to withering attacks not only on their political positions but also on their morals and good faith. This is the system we have, and it has proved durable and strong. But that doesn’t make it pretty. In the end, each gave as good as he got, and Obama squeaked through. Ordeal? Yes. Uplift? Alas, no.

— with reporting by Michael Scherer / Chicago, Alex Altman / Boston and Michael Crowley, Massimo Calabresi, Jay Newton-Small, Katy Steinmetz, Alex Rogers and Elizabeth Dias / Washington

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109 comments
KenLamba
KenLamba

Competence and integrity won.

EvaGonzalez
EvaGonzalez

OBAMA WILL BE IMPEACHED !

Copied:

BRER_OrabbitObama on Impeachment: 'My fellow Amerikans -

 I lie for the demise of all those more fortunate; and I lie for the benefit of all those less fortunate. Therefore, I lie more or less, but the more I lie the less I perceive I'm lying.

 Thus, I lie for all equally; without regard to whether I know I'm lying, but with the crystal clear knowledge that when my lies change in the future my past lies will not catch up with me because by then my new lies will have belied my old lies and my present lies will engulf my past lies so that I can rightfully say today that I am not a liar because I lie for the respectability of all liars inside and outside the beltway, both foreign and domestic and without consideration of nationality, religion, sexual orientation, race, gender, or the sanctity of life. 

But even more importantly, I lie for the benefit of all the children of the world who are unable to lie for themselves

superlogi
superlogi

He proved he could win by playing to the electorate's basest instincts, including class envy, bigotry, sloth and avarice.  But then, that has proved to be a winning formula world wide, and one up until the last several years we've been largely able to avoid.  With regard to inspiration, I've never defined it as mendacious buffoonery with a large dollop of narcissism.

swollenberg8@msn.com
swollenberg8@msn.com

After the euphoria of a soaring and searing win at the polls, this article landed like a piece of coal in my Democrat stocking.  While the author's frame of reference is "Just the facts, mam," he missed what most Obama supporters feel: it takes spirit and an inspirational figure to lead, and that we have in Obama.

mtcy04
mtcy04

Survival? Winning by 51% vs 48% poplar votes and 332 vs 206 electoral votes (confirmed today) should even be acknowledged as a landslide. But of course this is what detractors do - desperately trying to mislead (a tight race) throughout the process, and detract from President's achievements before the final results are in. 

DilbagRai
DilbagRai

It is with reference to the cover story by David von Drehle " For Obama, Survival Is the New Winning " (Nov 19 issue ).Now when he has surged to a second term in the White House after overwhelming Republican Mitt Romney by 303 electoral votes to 206 his voters expect him to work more harder for bipartisan support to reshape the welfare state and revive growth as they have given him an opportunity to redeem his promise to lift it out of the economic mess it finds itself in. Nonetheless, the US president faces challenges in his second administration that almost match those that he faced in his first and he knows that a second administration for a president can either be a time to build a legacy - or a time of minimal accomplishment since there are huge challenges like an ailing economy facing a major debt problem whose resolution cannot be postponed much further, a flat growth rate and unemployment but with minimal job creation. In his second term as a President he should gird up his lions in showing his worth to build a legacy or a period where little is accomplished because of the huge economic challenges he faces. Since the Republicans have retained control of the House of Representatives, they have the potential to block key legislation. Obama will need to find a way to work with a divided Congress, and address the automatic spending cuts and tax increases that will come into force at the end of the year. For the Republicans, their divisive politics and regressive social agenda seem to have alarmed large sections of the working class, women and minorities. To survive, they need to adapt to the changing demographics in America and widen their political base.

ironyman2
ironyman2

This is a sad commentary because there is a theme of "let's just survive" that Obama and his people are promoting. Of course, it does not apply to his personal financial situation - just to most of ours. He convinced people that just getting by is okay. Sixty percent of jobs created during the so-called recovery have been low-wage. Waiting tables much? The stock market continues to decline, and if media would tell the truth, it's not just the fiscal cliff but that most business people don't trust Barack Obama. You can easily understand this if you read just a few business publications or read Bob Woodward;s "The Price of Politics." Business has never liked Obama, and for good reason: he has lived off taxpayers all his career and does not get what creates really good jobs people can live well on - not just survive. That's a loser's attitude.

TanvirAmjad
TanvirAmjad

While everybody tired of listening to Romneys lies and flip flopping agendas we gave him four more years.He may not be the best guy on earth but I know for sure he wount start a preemtive war,he wount try to create anamosities among world leaders,he wount say "Read my Leaps" and then raise taxes on middle class,he wount stutter between speeches because he is not dislexic and he wount go after daddys unfinished business! So U GO Obama and make a mark on your future promises.I know the next four more years will not be a cake walk and it will be a territory full of two faced republican snakes,but with trust on God and Yourself you will make it better for us.

TanvirAmjad
TanvirAmjad

FOUR MORE YEARS OF PROSPERITY AND STABILITY!!!

BarryLevy
BarryLevy

and I am betting that while the people in the East Coast suffer, obozo is planning a huge second inaugural ball, because he wants to leave nobody behind, and having a big party for himself is the perfect say to show those suffering that he has their back and will party to show them that they should shut up and stop complaining as it is putting a damper on his partying.

hdc77494
hdc77494

Obama won using a campaign of vicious lies, smears, and the gloating you see from small minded people. Now he wants us to set aside our divisions and lat him do what he wants? I'm one of the tens of millions he insulted. I've been poor. I went to a state school and didn't graduate. I've never been rich but I founded several businesses and created hundreds of jobs. I hope the Republican house reminds him on a daily basis that he's not a king or a dictator, his party doesn't control all of the government, and using the press as a propaganda machine to hide his flaws and promote his lies tainted the political process. He doesn't have a mandate, and I hope his second term agenda (does he have one) goes down in flames while all the things he put off to his second term i.e., massive tax increases on the middle class, the keystone pipeline, the insane new fuel standards, the bankruptcy of the coal industry and more than 20 million jobless haunt him for the rest of his days and show that the emperor really has no clothes.

DorisM
DorisM

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AAC
AAC

The Obama campaign team divided the country into factions and then pit them against republicans.  It was a bloody process.  Like fomenting tribal warfare.  Not his finest moments.

Now Obama is left to pick up all the pieces, like Humpty Dumpty.  

SugaPea
SugaPea

Terrible Article! What a put-down! 

Obama worked hard and worked toward being  President of ALL of America!

You're crazy words certainly do sound like sour grapes!

Listen...We survived Eight Terribly Long Difficult Years of Damage with George W. & Cheney.

You will also survive...and mark these words:

We will see great positive progress for ALL OF AMERICA!

suzymagnolia
suzymagnolia

Bull. He won by over 130 votes. In this country, that's a damn landslide. 

SAK
SAK

Why "survival"?

Obama will survive anyway no matter what he does or does not do. 

No need to run for the office again. Relax to sip his whisky and LHAO.

Why bother?

DiggoryVenn
DiggoryVenn

Earned more than 50% of the popular vote.  Earned 332 electoral votes.  Obama won.  He WON.  Diminishing that win and expressing early skepticism about his prospects for success in the next four years is the worst kind of cynicism.

sacredh
sacredh

"For Obama, Survival Is the New Winning"

.

For the republicans, getting your ass kicked in two straight elections should be a wakeup call. Snooze alarm. ZZZZZzzzzzzz

rgolds100
rgolds100

For Obama, Survival is the New Whining

CCPony
CCPony

"Survival is the new winning".  Woe is me when crap like that actually begins to make sense.  Welcome to the Divided States of America.

TedPeters
TedPeters

Hey, now that we have legalized marijuana and free contraceptives who cares about jobs and the future economy. 

shanshayla
shanshayla

@mtcy04 Higher unemployment than when he took office, this pathetic 2.0% GDP 4 years later and cramming a healthcare bill down America's throat over half didn't want are achievements? Hardly.

walstir
walstir

@mtcy04 

By any measure 51% is a bare majority.  That same 51% of the popular vote if distributed more evenly could have theoretically won a much bigger majority than 332 vs 206 electoral votes - that wouldn't have made the result any more of a landslide.

EvaGonzalez
EvaGonzalez

@pokerknave 

TIM ADAMS,A college instructor who worked as senior elections clerk for the city and county of Honolulu in 2008 is making the stunning claim Barack Obama was definitely not born in Hawaii as the White House maintains, and that a long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate for Obama does not even exist in the Aloha State.There is no birth certificate,” said Tim Adams, a graduate assistant who teaches English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Ky. “It’s like an open secret. There isn’t one. Everyone in the government there knows this.”Adams, who says he’s a Hillary Clinton supporter who ended up voting for John McCain when Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Obama, told WND, “I managed the absentee-ballot office. It was my job to verify the voters’ identity.”“I had direct access to the Social Security database, the national crime computer, state driver’s license information, international passport information, basically just about anything you can imagine to get someone’s identity,” Adams explained. “I could look up what bank your home mortgage was in. I was informed by my boss that we did not have a birth record [for Obama].”At the time, there were conflicting reports that Obama had been born at the Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, as well as the Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children across town. So Adams says his office checked with both facilities.“They told us, ‘We don’t have a birth certificate for him,’” he said. “They told my supervisor, either by phone or by e-mail, neither one has a document that a doctor signed off on saying they were present at this man’s birth.”To date, no Hawaiian hospital has provided documented confirmation that Obama was born at its facility.Google it !   and CIRCULATE  IT !

ironyman2
ironyman2

@outsider2011 I will eventually read this, but I have heard and read other thoughts, all from conservative leaders and some voters. Most agree across the board that the party is out of touch - the aging white man's party. I didn't agree down the line with Romney but voted for him. because I think he is a more capable leader than Obama. Romney's own party helped do him in during the primaries, then media attacked him and picked him to the bone. They created him in a way that was so extreme that he became a caricature - and not a real person. Well, Obama again. I agree with what I think he believes on some issues. Maybe he'll do better in his second terms. This is not the case for most second-term presidents.

UMMLocal12
UMMLocal12

The stock market continues to decline?  Not in the real world.

Low wage jobs are all that is left because Bain and buddies send the manufacturing capability somewhere else.  Meanwhile Boehner and freinds refuse to make the necessary investments that could rescucitate our infrastructure and manufacturing base while voting for more subsidies for the non-productive financial sector.  And businesses both big and small have done very well during the last 3 years, take a look a quarterly reports that show very nice profits.

manapp99
manapp99

@TanvirAmjad If, by more prosperity, you mean the rich getting richer while the middle class loses wealth as we have for the last four years. 

Great news for the well healed among us. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@BarryLevy 

8/10 Americans thought Obama's response to Sandy was excellent.  As Someone who was stuck in its path I have to agree.  Deal with it.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@BarryLevy 

Nothing says reasonable opinion like assuming something before it actually happens.

sfbdivine
sfbdivine

@BarryLevy you are an ignorant dis-respectful sod... and what are you doing to help the victims, up and down the East Coast that were ravaged by super-storm Sandy? Or are you just angry that you did not receive an invitation to the inaugural?

ironyman2
ironyman2

@AAC I really liked a quip I heard before the election: if Obama wins, he'll really have a mess to clean up. Yes, he does.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@SugaPea That's the problem - we want to do more than just survive. Hell, Americans have always expected to survive. We are a nation that is accustomed to prospering. Romney gets this. But then, he did not live off taxpayers all his life like O. has. Big diff.

HacimObmed
HacimObmed

@SugaPea  Horse sh*t. Obama may have bought the election by promising hispanics amnesty but he won't deliver. He insulted the white people of this country. He denigrated Romney, insulted the capitalist system and a fine company like Bain capital. This is now a race war. Obama is not my president, Obama is a racist and a liar.

suzymagnolia
suzymagnolia

@TedPeters See, that's why your side lost. You underestimated the importance of social issues. 

outsider
outsider

@ironyman2 

Well, i can say for sure that i agree, i hope Obama does well in his second term. We don't agree on Obama's first term, but that's ok. We don't all have to agree all the time. 

I think the way you wrote that was important; it's important to talk to one another (the way you did in your post) rather than at each other, which as been happening for too long. And from both sides. 

The article is worth a read, if only because it draws parallels between the time when the GOP was strong, and diversified (it goes back to some post WW2 comparisons - and how the dems used to be out of touch) and the party that embraced science and progress, without the rhetoric. 

One other point i don't agree on; i don't think the media made Romney. I think Romney had to cater to the Tea Party to get the nomination, then as has been pointed out, starting moving to the center. 

I think the single largest issue the GOP has is the Tea party, followed closely by the religious right. Get ride of those two groups, and diversify - and the GOP is a nominal party again. 

Which i personally think would be great - because if the GOP was a strong party again, people would have to choose between two party's, which would make the dems govern better as well, or lose votes. 

At the moment, as you said, and the article illustrates - the GOP is just the old, white guys party - with a penchant for nominating crazy, or extreme people (I'm not referencing Romney, though you can make that argument; i mean Akin and Mourdock). 

So right now the dems come off as the lesser of two evils. 

But if the GOP stopped catering to the extremists, it would make both party's shape up. 

Which is to the benefit of everyone. 

outsider
outsider

@DonQuixotic @outsider2011 

This paragraph is awesome:

Another example: the GOP’s social conservatism has increasingly repelled college-educated voters. In 1988, college-educated whites voted for George H.W. Bush over Michael Dukakis by a margin of more than 20 points. In 2008, John McCain bested Barack Obama among college-educated whites by only 2 points. As the GOP relies more heavily on less-educated voters, it finds itself relying on a class of people who have lost ground economically. Those voters understandably tend to mistrust business. It’s an odd predicament for the party of free enterprise to base itself on the most business-skeptical voters—a predicament that cost Romney dearly in the industrial Midwest.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@UMMLocal12  And by the way, I said low-wage jobs created during the recovery. The jobs created just prior to this in 2006-07, before the economy began its decline, were managerial jobs. Jobs created during Obama's first term were low-wage, hourly jobs - waiters, hotel maids, desk clerks, administrative jobs. Business has not wanted to hire for upper-level jobs while O. is in the White House. The stock market is showing this after he was reelected. Business does not like the man.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@UMMLocal12 Media meme, union worker. Union workers line up to mimic whatever they're told that benefits their wallets. To hell with everyone else. If Detroit had turned out decent products, they wouldn't have been in the shape they are - and most likely will be again.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@HacimObmed @SugaPea 

Nonsense.  Do you know what the DREAM Act was?  Do you know that Romney outspent Obama in negative ads in states like Ohio and Florida 2:1?  Inform yourself.

nhautamaki
nhautamaki

@outsider2011

It's HARD to govern effectively, especially such a large and diverse and dynamic nation as America.  It's so much easier to just play to the lowest common denominator and float by on incendiary and misleading rhetoric.  The GOP got to where it is for a simple reason: laziness.  They didn't feel like competing with the Democrats on government competence, so they threw up their hands, and called all governmental action pointless, wasteful, or even unAmerican or tyrannical.  Then they scared up votes among the most passionate and numerous but least educated and politically sophisticated demographics.  And lo and behold, it worked like a charm for 30 years.  Thank goodness it's starting to look like those dark days might finally be behind us.  But even if that's so, what is the future of the Republican party?  The last Republican leader with any credibility was Bush Sr and that was 20 years ago and even then he was a holdover from a different age--an age when Republicans actually took governing seriously.  I don't think there's anyone like that in the new crop of Republicans.

And like you say, that bodes ill for America, because without realistic opposition who or what is there to keep them honest?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@outsider2011 @DonQuixotic 

In 1980, the gap between rich and poor had only just begun to widen from its narrowest point of the whole 20th century. Today, the typical worker earns less than his counterpart of 1980, middle-class incomes are stagnating, and wealth and power have concentrated to a degree that would startle even the Astors and the Vanderbilts.

And this, right here, is a tragedy that they'll never understand.  As the party that puts the individual over society they'll have to keep marching down this path until it utterly destroys their support.

ironyman2
ironyman2

@DonQuixotic @ironyman2  Apologies. I didn't mean the comment in that vein. One of my jobs has been in executive management in a private owned corporation, a manufacturer. The company was non-union. It paid fair wages across the board and had an exceptional benefits package. I do appreciate the reason for the rise of unions, but to many non-union people, they seem somewhat outdated. Maybe not. I am tired of hearing about Romney shipping jobs overseas. If he did, that is the global world we are living in. I don't like it, but when companies have to make a profit. If they're dealing with unions - plus some issues of mediocre workmanship - they have to do what they need to to survive. If corporate America goes bust, we all go down.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@ironyman2 

Many of the benefits that your employer gives you (if you're employed) had their foundations laid for them by Unions.  They've done a great deal of good for the country and continue to try to fight for the rights of the poor and middle class.  Not all Unions are on the up-and-up, certainly, but being so crass about all of them is just ignorant.