With an Obama second term looking like a better than even probability, short of sweeping both chambers of Congress, can the newly reelected president break the stalemate in Washington and govern successfully? He says the partisan fever will break once he cannot run again. He may be right, but President Obama will have to move quickly after the election to send the right signals of strength and resolve, and position himself to take advantage of the recriminations among Republicans that inevitably will surface in the wake of a Romney defeat.
If the GOP loses House seats and falls short of the four seats necessary to control the Senate, there’s an opening for Obama to woo disgruntled Republicans while keeping newly energized Democrats together. Like Clinton-era triangulation, the strategy is divide-and-conquer—except this time it’s applied to Republicans.
Does Obama have the chops to work more effectively with Congress? “There’s no better learning experience than the first term,” says former Senate leader Tom Daschle, an Obama confidant. The inexperienced president learned the hard way he can’t trust the other side, and with time has gotten bolder and better at wielding power. Republicans are still reeling from his changing the policy on deporting illegal immigrants without congressional approval.
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