Ross K. Baker: History Lessons for Obama in His Second Term
Ross K. Baker is a political science professor at Rutgers University and a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.
Of the 43 men who have served as president, only 16 have been granted a second term. The voters who awarded the fortunate ones with an extended lease on the White House chose them for any number of reasons ranging from greater personal appeal to the incumbent's agenda, or satisfaction with the incumbent's performance.
In President Obama's case, it was a combination of all three. But Obama should look back on history for what might lie ahead. Second-term presidents who planned excessively bold agendas based on perceived mandates, or on freedom from the constraints of having to run for re-election, have stumbled badly.
In fact, the goals of re-elected incumbents rarely comport with what ultimately takes place in the second term. Often, events — rather than anything in the winner's playbook — can take unpredictable directions....
comments powered by Disqus
- Here's a look at history of 'religious freedom' laws
- ‘Hamilton’ Puts Politics Onstage and Politicians in Attendance
- Earth Tectonic Plate Simulation Reveals Our Planet Has Changed A Lot In 200 Million Years
- For G.O.P., Support for Israel Becomes New Litmus Test
- Yale’s Beinecke Library Buys Vast Collection of Lincoln Photos
- History's Grandin Wins Bancroft Prize for "The Empire of Necessity"
- Nobel prize-winning scientist writes a history of science
- Ken Burns tackles history of cancer
- Role-playing history game gets students jazzed