President Obama is seeking to control the agenda in 2016. By refusing to go quietly into the final year of his second term, Obama is forcing Republicans to nominate their only candidate who generates media attention, Donald Trump.
The President has moved up his State Of The Union by two weeks, he is taking executive action on expanding background checks this week, and he is embarking on an ambitious final year agenda to get as much done as he can before he leaves office. Obama isn’t embarking on the typical legacy building final year that defines many presidencies.
This president has become an expert at making his political opponents reactive instead of proactive. It has been years since Republicans defined an issue (the ACA) ahead of the President. After winning control of all of Congress last year, Republicans have been forced to play defense and react to Obama’s immigration executive orders, the nuclear deal with Iran, the restoring of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the Paris climate change agreement. Republicans won Congress, but Obama dominated the agenda.
Obama’s increased presence in 2016 means that there will be less media attention and spotlight to go around for the Republican candidates. The Democrats have serious star power in 2016. Hillary Clinton, President Obama, former president Bill Clinton, and Michelle Obama are all capable of generating media coverage on their own. Bernie Sanders has become a grassroots juggernaut, who draws big crowds and attention everywhere he goes.
Republicans have Donald Trump and only Donald Trump on their side. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Ben Carson aren’t capable of creating and dominating the headlines. If Republican voters want a “star” of their own who can compete for the media’s attention in 2016, their only option is Trump.
By not going quietly into the second term night, President Obama is indirectly pushing Republicans to nominate the one candidate who has little chance of winning in 2016. Republicans are being pushed by Democratic unity and star power to nominate Donald Trump.
In 2000, Al Gore put himself in a position to lose the presidential election by buying into the Republican narrative that Bill Clinton was a liability on the campaign trail. Democrats won’t be repeating that mistake in 2016.
The New York Times reported, “But while Mr. Obama may have no more elections left, he cannot afford to forget politics. Much of his ambition for 2016 is to use his bully pulpit to frame election issues to the advantage of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is favored to win the Democratic nomination.”
Obama is shaping the 2016 election without being on the ballot. The President is playing Republicans one last time and setting them up nominate Donald Trump.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association