There is precedent for Obama to handle this challenge effectively. Patrician Franklin Roosevelt faced a similar dilemma and managed it successfully: the more socially oriented "Second New Deal" at the end of his first term was an effort, in part, to co-opt the populist threat. But FDR was also helped greatly by the fact that his greatest populist antagonist, Louisiana's Huey Long, was assassinated in 1935 — before FDR faced re-election.
Obama has a long road ahead of him, with many challenges to come. This is just another, but it is a key one. Whether our anything-but-populist president can handle the current populist fervor may well determine if he can ultimately claim success at his job. And, not coincidentally, get re-elected to it.
To read the "Stark Ravings" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/blogs/starkravings. Steven Stark can be reached at email@example.com.
Editor's Note: In a previous version of this article, Ronald Reagan was said to have stood up against a Democrat-controlled Congress whereas it should have read a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives. The correction has been made above.
: Stark Ravings
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