Who is he? Obama keeps allies, enemies guessing in second term

Cal Jillson, political science professor at SMU's Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, talks about maneuvers by President Obama that keep people guessing about his second term.

By Justin Sink

Five months into his second term, allies and enemies are as confounded as ever about who President Obama really is.

Is he the dyed-in-the-wool liberal that his biggest supporters and critics suggest? Or is he a pragmatic, even cynical, politician who cares more for his popularity than taking risks for his ideological goals or living up to his rhetoric?

Even in the short period since his reelection, Obama has provided evidence to support conflicting interpretations.

His efforts to pass immigration reform, the unsuccessful push for stricter gun controls and tax hikes on high earners buttress the case for Obama-as-ideologue. But the president has also stoutly defended National Security Agency (NSA) programs that seize U.S. phone records and monitor Internet use, prompting comparisons with his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama came to power on the strength of his opposition to war in Iraq but is now poised to intervene in the civil war in Syria.

On top of that, there is the Justice Department’s pursuit of leakers and reporters, which critics say displays an authoritarianism that repels erstwhile liberal supporters and inflames long-standing libertarian-conservative opponents.

“President Obama has always been instinctively careful. And while he has progressive values, he’s pursued them in a careful and pragmatic way that has left his base feeling unenthusiastic [and] dispirited,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University....

Read more: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/305851-who-is-he-obama-keeps-allies-enemies-guessing-in-second-term#ixzz2WaFAkV5H
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