News / USA

Obama Hopes to Break 2nd Term Jinx

President Barack Obama is preparing for a second four-year term after his re-election victory.  But second terms have not always been kind to recent U.S. presidents.

In the wake of a rousing victory on election night, Obama vowed to learn from supporters and critics alike in his second term.

“And whether I earned your vote or not I have listened to you, I have learned from you and you have made me a better president," said Obama. "I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.”

Republicans are already adapting to the reality of a second Obama term, including House Speaker John Boehner.

House Speaker John BoehnerHouse Speaker John Boehner
x
House Speaker John Boehner
House Speaker John Boehner
“Mr. President, this is your moment.  We are ready to be led not as Democrats or Republicans but as Americans," said Boehner.

But if history is any guide, Obama may find his second term more challenging than his first, says former Reagan White House chief of staff Ken Duberstein.

“You know the history of second term presidents at least through World War II has been that inevitably they go off track in their fifth or sixth year," said Duberstein. "Every second term president somehow finds a scandal, finds a difficulty, a mistake, and it gets elevated.”

Richard Nixon won a landslide re-election victory in 1972 but was forced to resign because of the Watergate scandal less than two years later.

Ronald Reagan’s reputation suffered because of the Iran-Contra scandal and Bill Clinton was impeached over the Monica Lewinsky affair.

George W. Bush was harshly criticized for his handling of Hurricane Katrina and unanticipated problems in Iraq.

President Obama says he’s well aware of what some historians call the ‘second term curse.’

“I don’t presume that because I won an election that everybody suddenly agrees with me on everything," said Obama. "I’m more than familiar with all the literature about presidential overreach in second terms.  We are very cautious about that.”

The president is wise to note the second term pitfalls of his predecessors, says University of California historian Matthew Dallek.

“So he’s very conscientious of it and he’s signaling that he wants to be pragmatic and he doesn’t want the ‘world’ [everything], he’s not asking for ‘pie in the sky’ things and that he’s going to work in areas where he thinks that he can work in," said Dallek.

It’s also important for the president to build political relationships, says former Reagan aide Duberstein.

“President Reagan during the Iran-Contra incident, people wanted to believe him," said Duberstein. "He had a reservoir of goodwill.  President Obama to date doesn’t have those strong relationships.  That is something that I think he fundamentally has to address in these initial months of a second term.”

And so even as President Obama looks ahead to an ambitious second-term agenda, analysts expect he will be mindful of some of the mistakes of his predecessors.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Brandt Hardin
November 20, 2012 9:08 PM
Despite all odds, our President prevailed. He still has an uphill battle fighting a Red House which has blocked his every move in an attempt to squash his goals of bringing the Middle Class equal pay, women’s rights, gay rights and affordable healthcare. The Bush Administration drove our economy into a swift nose dive and Obama is still the patsy. Watch conservative hands paint him in Blackface with a visual commentary of how Barack has been bamboozled at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/10/bamboozling-obama.html

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs