To hear one side argue the case, Barack Obama is the most powerful president in the nation’s history, using his office to advance the Democratic agenda through executive orders and unilateral action. To hear the other side, Obama is hobbled by conservatives in Congress intent on blocking his agenda at every turn.
But listening closely, it becomes clear that each side is making the counterintuitive case. Republicans argue that Obama has expanded his powers beyond those traditionally granted a president, while Democrats — and, notably, Obama himself — counter that the most powerful man in the free world has been stymied by a group of congressional freshmen still trying to learn their way around the Capitol.
The irony on both sides is rich. To make the case that the current economic malaise isn’t his fault, and that it will take more time for his policies to solve the crisis, the most powerful man in the world is, in essence, admitting that he’s not really that powerful at all.
Both sides have a point. Obama has, in fact, demonstrated a proclivity for expanding presidential powers. But he is simultaneously powerless.
No other president has had to deal with such an interconnected global economy, in which problems across the ocean could be but the first dominoes to fall in a worldwide chain of recession. No other president has had to leave so much of his own political fate in the hands of European leaders, reduced to advocating for other nations’ parliaments to choose stimulus measures over austerity. And no other president has worried so much about elections in France and Greece.
The 2012 election is devolving into a frenzy of finger-pointing, with each side blaming the other for our economic malaise. After all, it couldn’t possibly be their party’s fault — the other side is simply too powerful.
—Reid Wilson, Hotline Editor-in-Chief
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Obama, Romney Both Winners at Latino Conference
[National Journal, 6/24/12] The the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Conference this past week turned out to be a win-win for Obama and Romney, with each appealing to their respective parties with their messages.
A Grinding Race Takes Shape
[Wall Street Journal, 6/23/12] Neil King writes for the Washington Post that it's possible now to begin to see the path the election will take on the way to November, with recent polls offering clues as to who's actually ahead and what weaknesses each candidates have to overcome.
Gillespie: Romney Will Review Obama's Executive Orders, Repeal Some
[National Journal, 6/24/12] Mitt Romney will review every executive order President Obama has signed, and potentially repeal some, a top Romney adviser said on Sunday.
Restive Iowa Could be a Presidential Decider
[L.A. Times, 6/24/12] Iowa's five electoral votes play a key role in the path planned by both candidates to get to the White House, which explains why each is spending time and money to woo Iowa voters. But the state, with its low unemployment, could prove a challenge for Romney.
Missouri Slips From Political Bellwether Status this Fall
[USA Today, 6/24/12] Missouri is expected to go red this November, meaning it no longer holds a coveted spot as a swing state and has not seen the sort of involvement from presidential campaigns that has been typical of Missouri.
Mitt's No Policy Problem
[Politico, 6/24/12] Romney has still refrained from giving policy specifics on a number of the nation's most pressing issues, because, as he said, the media will "hang" him with the details. But at this point in the race, it may become difficult for him to avoid deeper questions on his policies as the media and the public begin to question his plans.
Pawlenty Admits Romney Tax Plan Lacks Specifics
[National Journal, 6/24/12] Critics and supporters alike are increasingly calling for Mitt Romney’s policy specifics, and on Sunday another voice joined the chorus: Former Minnesota Gov. and potential running mate Tim Pawlenty.
GOP Kingmakers Make Their Case for Romney's Best 2012 Running Mate
[The Hill, 6/23/12] Grover Norquist, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker and other top Republicans made it known what they're looking for in a candidate, offering little consensus except for who they don't seem to want: Tim Pawlenty.
Mitt Romney Visits Subsidized Farms, Knocks Big Government Spending
[The Daily Beast, 6/23/12] “The only solution to taming an out-of-control spending government is to cut spending,” Romney said during a taping of Face the Nation against the backdrop of a farm -- one that has received over $100,000 in government subsidies.
Poll: 1-in-4 Uncommitted Now in White House Race
[Associated Press, 6/24/12] One quarter of U.S. voters remain up for grabs by the two candidates, indicating a race still in flux and an opportunity for both to shift the tide before November.
Romney Donors Mingle With GOP Elite at Utah Retreat
[National Journal, 6/24/12] Romney'three-day retreat in Park City – a town that boasts top-notch ski slopes and plays host to the Sundance Film Festival each year – brought together a crowd estimated at more than 700 people for socializing, issue panels and a campaign briefing by top Romney aides.
Campaigns Agree: Twitter Isn't Shaping the Race
[National Journal, 6/24/12] For all the feuds and Q&As and hash-tag attacks on Twitter, top advisers to Mitt Romney and President Obama say that social media isn’t by itself shaping this year's election.