Barack Obama is approaching the end of his historic presidency. Traditionally, elected officials who are in their final year or so of their term in office are referred to as a “lame duck,” as their powers and influence wane. However, Barack Obama has so far shown that he’s not yet ready to be a lame duck president.
Lame Duck Day
There is even a Lame Duck Day, celebrated every February 6th in honor of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution that limited presidential succession and went into effect on February 6, 1933.
Could win a third term
For some presidents, their final months in office is a time of reflection and celebration of their presidency. For others, particularly those who have lost a reelection bid for a second term, it is a time of bitterness. President Obama is clearly enjoying his final months in office and continues to be fully in charge of the nation. Indeed, recent polls have shown that the country would prefer a third Obama term to either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
Obama does not like Trump
The President has been active on the campaign trail for his preferred successor, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Obama has used language rarely heard from a president to describe his feelings about Donald Trump. Should Mr. Trump win the presidency, it is easy to imagine that President Obama's remaining two months in office will become a living hell for him.
When the Republicans took control of both Houses of Congress in 2014, some anticipated that Mr. Obama would become a lame duck president for the final two years of his term. However, the President seemed energized by the challenge and has used executive orders to accomplish many of the goals he set for his final two years in office.
Senate stalled Supreme Court nomination
The Republican-controlled Senate refused to consider Mr. Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the U.S. Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February, leaving the Court short one Justice for the past eight months. If Hillary Clinton wins the election, it will be interesting to see what the Senate does with the stalled nomination. It would be nice to think that in the spirit of national unity the lame duck Republican Senate would decide to give Judge Garland a hearing.
Obama only 55 years old
Barack Obama will only be 55 years old when he leaves office, and there is no reason to think that he will quietly fade away. If there is a model for Mr. Obama, it is likely to be Bill Clinton who built a far-reaching Foundation and has remained a powerful player on the world stage in the sixteen years since he left the Oval Office.
Having had this office has given me this incredible perch from which to see how the world works. The power of the office is unique and it is a humbling privilege. With that power, however, also comes a whole host of institutional constraints. — President Barack Obama
It will be interesting to see what Mr. Obama does once the “institutional restraints” are lifted from his shoulders on January 20th. What does seem likely is that we’ll be hearing more from the 44th President in the years to come.