Barack Obama's latest batch of criticism comes after his lack lustre approach towards the escalating crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, and rightly so. Throughout his second term the President has continually been scrutinised, either for his inability to "get things done," or alternatively his attempts to exert too much executive power. As the outcries of "Lame-Duck President" come out in force, why has Obama failed in turning his 2008 promise of "Yes We Can" into a reality?
Is it the loss of a Democrat majority in the House? The Republicans stubbornness and inability to compromise? The continuous barriers against Obama's attempts to pass certain Acts? Or is it because the House is filing a law suit against him? (Yes really). Clearly all of these things coupled together worsen the situation, but Obama's main problem is that he's just too nice to be President.
To be President of the United States you have to be sneaky, snake-like and willing to make deals you didn't initially set out to make. After all, the main weapon in their arsenal in government is the power to persuade. In order to get the House and the Senate, the Democrats and the Republicans on board the President has to make concessions for each side, giving them both what they want, whilst simultaneously attempting to make his mark in US history.
Unfortunately, this seems to be exactly where Obama, the leader of the free world and the first African American president, lacks immeasurably. He seems unable to make deals with the Republicans, as their views just stray too far away from what he envisages. But with their House majority granting them the ability to block every bill Obama attempts to pass, he finds himself in a sticky situation.
Past Presidents have been significantly better at playing the game that comes with the title in order to get their own way. Take for example Richard Nixon embodied this characteristic to an extreme level. He may have been infamous for the 1972 Watergate scandal, but this incident seems menial compared to his act of treason. During his campaign in 1968 whilst the Vietnam War still raged, he attempted to sabotage peace talks between the two sides.
Passing a message to the South Vietnamese government he told them that they "should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal." Effectively, Nixon prolonged the war leading to more American and Vietnamese deaths, technically an act of treason against his country.
Ronald Reagan is another controversial President who was determined to make his mark whilst in power and he achieved this through secrecy and deception. The 1986 Iran-Contra scandal is still relatively unknown, yet the deceit conducted is incredible. Despite Iran being one the USA's main enemies since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Reagan struck an arms deal with the country. The Reagan administration transferred the profits from the sale of military equipment to Iran to the Nicaragua Contras, a revolutionary group who were countering the communist regime in South America, which Reagan was keen to end.
Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, clearly has the illegality of the 2003 Iraq war hanging over his presidency. But another more sinister aspect of his administration, which is still shrouded in relative secrecy, is the passing of the 2001 Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11. To see full picture of what powers the Patriot Act gives to the government take a look here, but effectively it enables them to override the US constitution and invade the private lives of innocent citizens without proper cause.
Obviously I do not think these examples are how a US president ought to behave, nor do I think Obama should follow in their footsteps. Though all four clearly made a huge impact on the United States, they had extensive executive power, control over the rest of government and definitely "got things done". But in order for Obama to prevent his complete transition into lame-duck status, maybe he should realise he doesn't hold the same level of authority and stature as his predecessors, especially when he delivers threats to his enemies standing on a kindergarten's alphabet rug.