Legacy watch: Israel should beware a wounded Obama

The lamed U.S. president might well seek to repair his reputation abroad — at Israel’s expense.

The potential consequences of the Republican sweep of the 2014 midterm elections should be neither over-stated nor under-stated, especially with reference to the wounded administration’s policies towards the Middle East in general and Israel in particular.

What is not so clear is what this will mean in practice. When the Senate reconvenes in January, the Republicans will have 53 or 54 seats out of a hundred, depending on what happens in the Louisiana runoff election next month. That is not enough to cut off debate, which requires sixty votes, and even less so to override presidential vetoes, which requires sixty-seven votes. In other words, despite the election results, the Republicans cannot pass significant legislation unless they have at least a half dozen or more Democratic votes in the Senate, and even then, if the president vetoes any such measures, they are very unlikely to be able to override his veto.

Additionally, this president has in the past six years demonstrated that he is perfectly willing to exceed his constitutional powers and try to govern by executive orders, bypassing Congress. The Supreme Court has struck down more executive orders emanating from the White House since Obama took office than in any other Administration in the same period of time. But by the time a challenge winds its way through the court system to reach the Supreme Court, the bureaucracy will have been executing the executive order, and in some cases, creating faits accomplis in so doing.

Nevertheless, it cannot be assumed that Obama is finished. The president no longer has anything to lose over the next two years. He is the lamest of lame ducks, and paradoxically, that fact liberates him from any political constraints except one — if he alienates too many Democratic senators enough might vote with the Republicans on such issues as Iranian and Russian sanctions, support for Ukraine and the Kurds and for Israel, forcing Obama to either acquiesce or veto such measures with the consequent opprobrium.

When President Clinton lost control of the Congress in his first midterm election in 1994 he made major adjustments in his policies and programs. It is unlikely, given his narcissistic personality, that Obama will do the same under similar circumstances.

Israel can look forward in the next two years to a more supportive Congress but also the possibility of facing a wounded president lashing out to try to repair his reputation and create a “legacy”.

Full article: Legacy watch: Israel should beware a wounded Obama (World Tribune)

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