I often wonder if President Obama is capable of the kind of introspection that causes him to ask what went wrong in his presidency. Obama came into office with huge Democratic majorities in Congress and a laundry list of things he wanted to fix. He wanted to close Guantanamo Bay within the first 100 days of his administration, but it still remains open today, as he begins the final year of his second term. he wanted to end the problem of the uninsured, but Obamacare exchanges are flaming out all over the country as Obamacare enrollment numbers lag.
Obama also wanted to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – but he still to this day is pushing back the withdrawal date from Afghanistan and the withdrawal from Iraq left the entire region in an ISIS-branded conflagration that has made a mockery of his influence abroad and threatens to doom the Hillary Clinton campaign before it even begins.
He also tried to unilaterally move on immigration reform, but his plan has been blocked by Federal courts and is headed to SCOTUS next year, where it looks likely to fail. He has likewise tried to act on guns, but has found his every effort rebuffed and in fact has only succeeded in creating five consecutive months of record gun sales for gun retailers.
Having utterly failed to solve any of the “real” “problems” he set out to solve, and unable temperamentally to confront the actual real problems facing the globe, it is no coincidence that Obama is now turning to the fake problem of climate change and trying to spend his last year “solving” it.
WASHINGTON — At a joint news conference here Tuesday with President François Hollande of France, President Obama veered from his focus on the terrorist attacks in Paris to bring up the huge international gathering beginning in the French capital on Monday to hammer out a global response to climate change.
“What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children,” Mr. Obama said of the climate conference.
The segue brought mockery, even castigation, from the political right, but it was a reminder of the importance Mr. Obama places on climate change in shaping his legacy. During his 2012 re-election campaign, he barely mentioned global warming, but the issue has become a hallmark of his second term.
And on Sunday night he arrives in Paris, hoping to make climate policy the signature environmental achievement of his, and perhaps any, presidency.
There’s a reason Obama is picking this particular fight, and it’s that absolutely no one cares about it. Climate change is currently viewed as the most important issue for somewhere between 0-3% of Americans. With everything else that’s going on in the news, virtually no one in mainstream America is out there clamoring for (or against, really) action on climate change. Most people, when they hear that the President is doing something about climate change react with an overwhelming shout of, “OH. IS THAT STILL A THING?”
Which is exactly the reason our bored and disengaged President is pushing it. He wants to have something that he can point to that he is allegedly working on, but not something that will get him actually in the public eye. If you watched Obama’s press conference in Turkey earlier this month it is clear that Obama has had enough of dealing with the problems and challenges of attempting to solve live political issues that people care about. So he instead is trying to “solve” a dead one.
Of course, Obama is doing it in his trademark style, which is a good way to ensure that nothing will actually get done. He has done no work behind the scenes with Congress to get shaky Republicans on board with his plan, he has done no work attempting to convince the American public of the need for his plan or the justification for its cost, and exercised no political leadership whatsoever with our allies. Instead he has merely passed an executive order of questionable constitutionality and which will almost definitely be struck down by the courts and if not, immediately overturned by any Republican who assumes the White House. Likewise, he is negotiating with other countries for a plan he can’t sell to Congress and has no hope of enacting at home.
In fitting fashion, this is what Obama plans to do with his last year in office: a fake solution to a fake problem.