President Barack Obama points to Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew during a meeting with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, March 31, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Robert Shrum (The Week): April is the unforgiving month that will make or break the Obama presidency. It will be a fitting climacteric for a half-term in power that has been an unremitting succession of crises….
In Libya, the president brilliantly passed the first test, securing a multilateral, Arab-sanctioned coalition that took control of the skies above the battleground just in time … He then endured domestic, often nakedly opportunistic criticism…
Now comes the really hard part. Having intervened, the only acceptable outcome is victory – not the partition of Libya, and surely not the resurgence of a mad dictator …
…Mike Rogers, the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who doesn’t seem very smart about the issue, opposes arming the rebels because we don’t know enough about them. But we know all we need to about Gadhafi … maybe Rogers is smart in a cynical and unworthy way, willing to see Gadhafi win if that means Obama loses.
But the politics doesn’t stop there. Most presidents facing a foreign crisis don’t have to contend with a simultaneous domestic threat. Obama does – in the form of a government shutdown or a refusal to raise the debt limit…
On the budget and the debt limit, the Republicans who control only one house of Congress are compelled more to demanding than actually negotiating, pressured internally to hold America hostage to a know-nothing Tea Party fringe….
….Obama, on the campaign trail and in office, has displayed a remarkable combination of patience and then decisiveness. He’s won the big ones. But they don’t come much bigger than they have this month.
The Republicans have a sad sack of 2012 candidates. Their best hope may be a mayday for this presidency. But if I were them, I wouldn’t count on Obama buckling in Libya or bending to Boehner. Instead, for this president, for the country, and for progressive principles here and in the world, April could be both the most trying and, in the end, the best of months.