Obama ‘Quite Comfortable’ As One-Term President, White House Spokesman Says
August 21, 2009 - 3:35 PMPresident Barack Obama is "quite comfortable" with the prospect of being a one-term president in order to address the issues he is concerned about, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday.
The comment came on the same day the president’s approval reached a new low, with only a 45 percent approval rating in the Zogby International poll released Friday. The poll said that 51 percent disapprove of the president’s job performance. The Real Clear Politics average of all polls puts the president approval rating at 52.2 percent.
Gibbs was addressing a question about a comment made by Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), who said the president told him he is willing to risk a second term to get a health care overhaul bill approved.
Gibbs said that would be true of most issues.
“I don’t know that I’ve specifically heard him on health care,” said Gibbs, “but I have heard the president say that if making tough decisions in getting important things done that Washington has failed to do for decades means that he only lives in this house and makes those decisions for four years, he’s quite comfortable,” Gibbs told reporters at the White House press briefing.
“The way he approaches this issue, the economy, Afghanistan and Iraq, any of these issues is not in a mode of self preservation, but in a mode of how best -- given all the information out there-- how best to make decisions that he thinks is in the best interest of the American people, not what’s in the best interest of his personal career,” Gibbs said.
This approach could be viewed as political courage. But critics of the president view it as reason for concern that he will push a transformational agenda with little incentive for pragmatism. That was the prediction of Dick Morris, co-author of Catastrophe, a book (June 2009) critical of Obama’s agenda. Morris was a top adviser to Democratic President Bill Clinton, who moved to the center to win a second term. Obama will not take that route, Morris predicted.
Obama is willing to be a one-term president “to complete a socialist takeover of the United States” before his popularity runs out, said Morris.
“The president’s willingness to go down with the ship can scarcely be comforting to congressmen and senators who want to live in Washington a little longer,” Morris told CNSNews.com.
“His collapse in favorability is doing more to undermine his health care package, and the House and Senate realize they don’t have a popular president for cover,” Morris continued. “The assumption of self sacrifice to achieve legislative progress is ridiculous.”
Nonetheless, Morris thinks the Senate Democrats will use a procedural measure called reconciliation to allow the health overhaul legislation to pass with just 51 votes instead of the usual 60 that are needed.
The bill, which critics say undermines Medicare, could shift senior citizen voters to Republicans – a constituency that has usually been reliably Democratic.
“Democrats could permanently lose the elderly vote that was built under FDR and LBJ,” Morris said. “That would be a seismic shift.”
Boswell, the Iowa congressman, told a radio station in Iowa that Obama personally told him that he would stake his presidency on health care reform.
Boswell, as Salon.com reported, said the president told him that “he's willing to be a one-term president if that's what it takes to get health care and energy reform.”
The congressman quoted the president saying, “I'm not going to kick the can down the road .... If it makes me a one-term president, I'm going to, we're going to take it on because the country is in need of us taking this on.”