It’s time to hedge his bets on his legacy.
Depending on which side you’re listening to at any given time, you will either hear that the Affordable Care Act is off to a slow start due in part to mishandled technology or that the program is doomed to fail because it was brought about through lies and poor predictions. Both sides are right to some extent, but that’s not the point.
Regardless of whether you believe that Obamacare was a good idea or not, President Obama must find answers in order to solidify his legacy. He has been a popular president through his personality and he has some wins under his belt, but his legacy has not been solidified. At this point, history will see him as the president who tore down the race barrier, who was in office when Osama bin Laden was killed, and who allowed the NSA to continue its privacy-breaching ways. It has not been a successful watch, but he has time to change that.
While immigration reform, gun reform, and Middle East peace are all still possibilities, the Affordable Care Act is likely going to define him the most. If successful, it will be heralded for decades. If it fails, it will be a huge blunder that puts him at the mediocre level of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.
The best way to make sure that it works well enough to either help his legacy or not hurt it is to move on to other issues. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it’s not very different from the concept of “a watched pot never boils.” There is very little that he can do at this point to sway the outcome. The technology will either work or it won’t. The people will either buy into it or they won’t. He has done his part to make it successful and now it’s time to get something else up and running that will draw attention away from the flaws of Obamacare and point them towards positive things that he can make happen in other arenas.
The current failures of the Affordable Care Act are already old news to most. Yes, there are fewer enrollments than expected. Yes, people are losing their coverage and he’s sorry about that. While the Republicans will continue to bring it up, the President needs something entirely different and more important to come up while he still has time to make it happen on his watch. With just over three years left and a Republican Congress that is unlikely to shift his way before his term ends, he needs to make some big moves.
Amnesty would be something that could play in his favor and be big enough to pin as his legacy. It won’t be popular at the polls, though. As a result, it’s unlikely that he will make a strong move on it until after the 2014 elections.
Gun control is important to Americans but it’s hardly something unique enough to be considered a big win in the eyes of history. He won’t push that any time soon and may not address it at all during his term.
This leaves the Middle East. Sentiment is shifting in Washington DC, across the country, and around the world. Everyone seems to be painting Israel as the bad guys. It’s hard to believe that they get attacked online so heavily through social media and news sites, but antisemitism is on the rise in the form of a combination of pro-Muslim sentiment combined with sympathy for Lebanon. It’s equatable to propaganda in its most powerful form: word of mouth amplified by social media.
People would rather see sanctions lifted on Iran and a perceived reduction in their nuclear weapons ambitions. This is unfortunate because there is absolutely no way that Iran will stop on their path towards becoming a nuclear-armed country. Nothing will stop them. If they can work out a deal that makes it look like they’re ceasing nuclear activities, they will take it. That’s Israel’s greatest fear. Unfortunately, it’s also President Obama’s only hope for a legacy if Obamacare continues to fail.
He missed the boat on the Arab Spring and therefore could not participate in molding it appropriately. It’s not his to claim and it hasn’t really worked out as many intended. He must make a deal with Iran work during his watch. He must then hope that the Israelis do not strike as a result. If they do not, then he must pick a side in Syria and make that side win. Standing on the sidelines on this one will result in the same effect on his legacy that Egypt and Libya had – nil.
As the president hopes that the Affordable Care Act works, he’ll need to do something else and fixing the Middle East may be his only option. This is not a president that wants to face in the history books with the only real mentions being about race and his fun personality. He wants to be remembered as one of the greatest presidents of all time. Unfortunately for him, his grand healthcare plan is not looking good.
What’s the point of writing all this? It’s to get to one statement:
The failure of Obamacare will mean desperate actions will need to happen in the Middle East. Those actions will be risky, putting a lot of faith in both Iran and Israel to not send the the region and the world into turmoil. With his legacy backed into a corner, President Obama will force the issue in the Middle East. The end result may be catastrophic.