A President Against Himself

On the international front, President Barack Obama seems to pride himself on being a man of peace, not war. In his latest State of the Union speech, he proudly announced that the U.S. had ended its combat mission in Afghanistan. Before that, he had winded down the war in Iraq just as be promised he would by bringing home nearly 150,000 American troops stationed there.

Yet, as he seeks peace abroad, he seems intent on waging war at home: both with the new Republican majority in Congress, as well as with himself. If Obama has made it a cornerstone of his foreign policy to seek and maintain allies abroad, even turning former enemies into "friends" (by normalizing diplomatic relations with Cuba and negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran), on the home front he appears eager to do the opposite.

In the speech he delivered on Tuesday night, not only did Obama threaten to veto legislation passed by Congress a record number of times, he did so while invited as a guest to address both legislative chambers on Capitol Hill - and not from his own back yard in the Rose Garden or the White House press room. A more gracious president would have waited to go home before thumbing his nose at his hosts, instead of doing it to their faces while TV networks broadcast his words to over 31 million viewers.

Are Republicans irked? Yes, they are, as many see the President acting in a confrontational and unnecessarily provocative way, lashing out at them despite the need for a collaborative and cooperative approach to pass any legislation. Is Obama upset by the results of the 2014 midterm elections? Clearly he is - otherwise he wouldn't be acting the way he is today. Does he wish he had handled things differently earlier on in his administration? I'm sure he does - because in many ways, he seems more angry with himself than with the Republicans or American electorate in general.

Writing this article wasn't easy for me. Not because I don't like expressing my views and sharing them with others, but because I wonder what kind of a President Barack Obama has turned into. As an advocate for changing U.S. legislation who has succeeded in gaining bipartisan support for it in Congress, I now anticipate a presidential veto. I mention this not because my legislative proposal doesn't make sense (it does), but because I fear a knee jerk reaction from a new Obama who just wants to show he's the boss and still in control.

Despite not having a background in psychology, I predicted this as soon as I heard the results of the last midterm elections. I worried that a President feeling cornered and abandoned would try to make up for his diminished stature by flexing his muscles and overcompensating for it in other ways. A more mature and confident leader would not: he would reach out to his perceived opponents and seek an amicable rapprochement, just as Ronald Reagan did with Mikhail Gorbachev - and Barack Obama does with his adversaries abroad.

Yes, the latest polls may indicate that the President's popularity among Americans has increased by a few percentage points, but that won't make up for all the goodwill he's lost in the corridors of Capitol Hill. Now everything there seems like an uphill battle - even more than it did before. Those of us watching on the sidelines will sadly just have to sit and wait it out, while the titans of power continue fighting each other for the next two years in office.