Is it the second coming of Bill Clinton? President Obama seems to be embracing Clinton’s strategy of using popular but insignificant government actions to bolster his image and appeal to bipartisanship in the lead up to 2012.On Tuesday, it was stricter oversight of the Head Start preschool program for low-income children. On Wednesday, Obama signed an executive order to eliminate particularly dreadful examples of government waste. Thursday brought the passage of two small parts of the jobs bill, as the NY Times reports:
In the last month, the Senate has rejected three versions of Mr. Obama’s jobs bill. But on Thursday it approved a measure with two elements of the White House plan. One would offer tax credits to companies that hire unemployed veterans. The other would repeal a law that requires federal, state and local government agencies to deduct and withhold 3 percent of payments they make to many contractors.
The influential cadre of former Clinton officials in the current Administration are quick to present the strategies of their ’96 resurgence as the key to Obama’s reelection, and it may well make political sense to publicly announce frequent, popular and bipartisan steps, however small they may be. This is however a long way down from the “transformative” ambitions that marked the Lincoln and Roosevelt phases of the cocky Obamans before sober reality settled in.Republicans, sharpening their knives for what many hope will be an easy victory in 2012, should watch out. The funny thing about Clintonism is that, while often inelegant and even undignified, it usually works.