A summer of discontent for Obama
President Obama has had a rather challenging start to the Summer of 2010: Gen. McChrystal's remarks to Rolling Stone magazine and the resulting shift of NATO control in Afghanistan to Gen. Petraeus; the continuation of the high-profile and painful BP oil spill; the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination hearings; and the move by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to enact strict immigration control policies within her overwhelmed state.
In it all, the president has had the opportunity to step up and re-assert himself after a bad few months for him politically. And in part, he was able to do just that. His pick of Gen. Petraeus to step in for Gen. McChrystal was the smart move from a political and military perspective; however, it opened a wound within his party that he will most assuredly face in December when the issue of our Afghanistan policy is once again debated.
Gen, Petraeus would not publicly commit to the merits of a July 2011 timeline as many Democrats have been demanding. The administration knew that the general would sail through his nomination and it could not have gone much better than it did -- 99-0!
However, they merely tabled the debate that will come later this year when the likes of MoveOn.Org, Sens. Durbin, Schumer and Reid, and Speaker Pelosi once again make their demands for withdrawal public. And this time they will be able to fight that fight without the threat of looming mid-term elections -- possibly putting the president on the defensive as he turns his attention to his own re-election effort.
The BP oil spill continues to weigh as an anchor that will not release itself from the hull of this administration any time soon. We are more than 70 days into the spill, and oil continues to flow into the gulf at an alarming rate - and, unfortunately for the president, this flow is continually televised in a manner that rightfully stokes the ire of Americans who cannot understand why the federal government and BP cannot get things right. All the while, too many hard working Americans on our Gulf Coast are losing money, and potentially their professional industries, in the process.
While it appears that Elena Kagan will become the next U.S. Supreme Court justice -- filling the vacancy left by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens -- Republican senators appeared to be emboldened by her lack of a judicial record and achievements and have homed in on a period during her tenure as the dean of Harvard's prestigious law school where she refused to allow the military to recruit on campus. Such an argument, while seemingly not enough to derail her nomination, will feed the firestorm already brewing around the country around the president's patriotism and reverence to the military.
Lastly, we have seen a governor in a Western state who has taken matters into her own hands when it comes to the out-of-control flow of illegal immigration. Today, Phoenix has a higher kidnapping rate than Kabul, Afghanistan, and the federal government continues to do nothing about it ... except threaten to take court action against the Arizona law. Americans are fed up and, rather than take action to defend our border and our nation, this administration talks about amnesty rather than security.
This summer is heating up for President Obama, but not in a way he has envisioned. He has much work ahead to try and right the ship before it is his turn to ask the voters for a second term. And right now, his fate is far less certain than many pundits were predicting just last summer.
Mike Reagan, the elder son of the late President Ronald Reagan, is spokesperson for The Reagan PAC and chairman and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation.