Even though the Electoral College does not meet until Dec. 17 to officially ratify President Barack Obama's landslide electoral victory Nov. 6; and even though he won't be inaugurated to begin his second term until Jan. 21, 2013, we pundits are now wondering just what will be the legacy of the first Black president.
For those who are superstitious, the signs have all pointed to his repeated victories. The Democratic National Convention scheduled the acceptance speech of the party's 2008 nominee to be held on Aug. 28 – the 45th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Justice, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. How could that nomination have gone to any candidate other than to Barack Obama, the Black Guy?
The 2009 Inauguration came on Jan. 20, the day after the observance of the King Holiday.
This time around, because the traditional Inauguration Day falls on a Sunday, the event will be held on Monday, Jan. 21, the day of the King Holiday observance. Just as it was superstitiously unlikely that a presidential candidate from the very last state in the Union to adopt the King Holiday observance – Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona – it is equally unlikely that the president to be sworn in on the King Holiday, would be a member of the Mormon Church, which banned Black men from its priesthood until 10 years after Dr. King's murder. So much for the superstitious premonitions about this president's career.
Now to his lasting legacy. During his first year in office President Obama tried to recast the American image of hostility in the Islamic world. His detractors who cling to the discredited notion of "manifest destiny," now described as "American exceptionalism," they all condemned the president for going on an "apology tour," trying to make nice with this country's enemies.
During these early days, Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, leaving little in the world of diplomacy for him to achieve, especially since the U.S. will not leverage its influence with Israel to coax the recalcitrant Jewish state to negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians, whose land they continue to occupy and illegally annex as part of what they consider to be "Greater Israel."
So, what's left for one of the handsomest president's with the most glamorous wife and two of the most fetching daughters in recent presidential memory? A cure for cancer? Or maybe he will be able to rescue the U.S. economy from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Hm-m-m?
About six centuries ago, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in "The Prince," his treatise on the proper accumulation and application of political power; that it is better for the Prince to be feared than to be loved. President Obama spent most of his first term governing the country by trying to make people who literally despise him and what he represents, become people who love him, or at least like him. The Republicans – dominated by the Tea Party faction of more than 60 arch-conservative freshman members elected in 2010 – were sworn to try to make the president fail, even if it meant utter ruin for the entire country, they were not about to love him.
So, Obama won reelection, despite the most virulent, ugly, race-baiting campaign in history, and in the process gained a mandate, along with clear leverage that means he can literally dictate to the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, where they hold the majority. He doesn't have to do anything but sit on his hands and the country will go over the "fiscal cliff" raising dreaded taxes on the wealthy and ushering in half of the mandated $1.2 trillion in budget cuts to come from military spending, which Republicans abhor.
The GOP can either accept the terms the president demands, or watch the economy go over, into the abyss, and the Republicans in Congress, not the president will be blamed by most voters. And while he's at it, make sure they agree to increase the national debt limit which expires in January.
So why in the world would the president accept any deal that doesn't protect his core constituencies just so he can allow House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to save face? Bring the Republicans to their political knees, Mr. President. Teach them to fear you. They will never love you, even if you do everything they ask of you.
That's how this president can burnish his legacy: continue to speak softly, but beat them down with a big political stick.