What is Obama’s mandate?

An excellent post by the Nutbox – “What kind of president would Obama be?” – got me thinking. Below is my reaction to his post.

I think Obama has to decide whether he will push back or continue to allow himself to be pushed. I’m sure he knows that extremist Republicans in Congress are not going to budge. Will he succeed in turning their intransigence against them like Clinton did to Gingrich after he got fed up with the obstructionism? Will he be thinking midterm elections or will he proceed as someone who believes he has a mandate to go all the way?

There is also a counterpart to Romney’s 47 percent. They are those Americans from the Red states who cannot see beyond color and their fundamentalist beliefs. They will always be against Obama. In the same way that Romney joked about having a better chance at election if his parents were born Mexican, Obama would have a better chance at success if he were born white. Should Obama try to turn those people around first or should he just tell them “you can get on the bus if you want to but if you don’t I’m not going to wait for you”?

The economy played a part in the election but it seems like American voters saw that the blame could not be laid exclusively on anyone. They saw a problem that was too big for anyone to solve in a short time and the only thing they could hope for at the present time is a step in the right direction. They thought Obama was it.

In the end it was social issues that spelled the difference – race, immigration, gender, health care. Voters chose the candidate who was most like them, the one who shared their beliefs. In other words, I think they felt neither candidate could solve the country’s economic and financial problems overnight so that sort of managerial skill was out of the equation. What was left was philosophy and world view and that was what spelled the difference. Maybe?

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, "Yellow Pad" in Business World, and "Talk of the Town" in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.

  • “If I were Obama, I’d play it pretty tight, even if it sent the U.S. over the cliff by bringing automatic budget cuts into play. I’d lay it all on Republicans for their failure to agree to tax hikes for the wealthy. Then in two years, I’d have all my legislation set up for when the House turns democrat.”—Joe America

    Don’t you think it’s too late for that, Joe? I think that at this early on his second term, Obama is already on the brink of being a lame duck, though it’s still premature to predict a more conclusive outcome, but it’s easy to speculate that Obama might find it to his disadvantage if he even as attempt to send the US over the cliff in a show of bravado over his election mandate. As of yesterday, 20 states of the US have filed petition movements for secession and from the looks of it it’s something that could result to a snowball effect if not nip in the bud by a decisive president that knows how to handle such negative movement.

    I smell trouble for your great country, Joe.

    • So then Aquino is a lame lame duck?

      It would not be for “bravado” that he would go over the cliff. But as a strategy to get done what he believes the nation needs, but Republicans block in the House. There will be a mid-term election in two years. He is not lame until after that election. If the House can get turned democrat, Obama can get a lot done.

      No state will withdraw from the union. There are extremists to the left and the right, but the middle is smart. Indeed, this election gave me confidence that the nation is NOT in trouble. It is returning to sane middle ground.

      Maybe you should see a doctor about that nose problem . . .

      • Joe, ARMM is just a very small fraction of the Philippines. 20 US states so far and counting is almost half of the USA. Joe, lame is lame, but some duck is lamer. And noses have different sensitivities, Let’s just wait for more rosy, or foul, smell, who knows, :).

    • Roberto, I read this article this morning and thought of your argument; the count is now 34 states where seccession petitions are circulating. http://www.slate.com/blogs/trending/2012/11/13/secession_texas_and_33_other_states_prepare_petitions_to_secede.html

      There are also petitions circulating to throw the secessionists out of the country.

      These are eccentric side shows. No state will leave the union.

      • Joe, your optimism is infectious, and I’m with you on this. Still, I think this is a matter worth discussing, specially for people who has all the time in the world like myself who loves senseless speculations, hoping to hear the views of an American friend like you if you can indulge me, :). You see, Joe, their is an inkling of a flutter in my gut that this secession movement in your country might turn into something worse than it is now specially if Pres. Obama pushed through with that fiscal cliff and the resulting repercussion out of that budget cuts turn to something nasty that will greatly affect the stability of the majority of your people, having been living under a dire situation right now. Add to that that the US Armed Forces was overwhelmingly for Romney in the last election, if I heard it right. Isn’t it worrisome, do you think, that their is a possibility that some US state, if not most, will form another union, leaving Pres. Obama isolated with a handful of his own loyal constituents?

        It’s okay if you’ll think this is a nonsense speculation. I would not mind.

        • Well, it is not nonsense, because people are out doing petitions. But I think it is not going to happen. Too many people are too happy in America, and to go off on their own would cost them their security umbrella and throw their local economies into trouble. It is a huge complex deal to set up a new nation. It sounds great as an ideal, as a way to get back in control when the elections came out the wrong way, but it is really a small share of people who think that extreme, I believe. And, practically, it is very difficult to do.

          The fact that the military does not like Obama is troublesome, and I don’t know the truth or depth of that. I heard John McCain explain that military people were very upset that the civilian leadership did not listen to the Libyan Embassy staff complain they were unprotected, and the Marines bore the brunt of the attack. On the other hand, he is doing a lot to make sure veterans have jobs when they return from overseas duty and exit the army, and upgrading medical care. I’d like to read more about it if any publications explore ithe subject.

  • “What kind of president would Obama be?”

    Irrelevant question, that should be asked four years ago before the 2008 election. The last four years of Obama’s administration would clearly answer the question and the answer is—it’s not good. 50% of American legitimate citizens does not like him. Of course the blacks were 99% for him during this election, which means they think he’s a very good president. I am not the one to blame them.

    As to the coming next four years of Obama’s, well, I think that doing the same thing over again could yield a different result this time, hopefully, but, having that kind of thinking, I’m sure Albert Einstein will call me names.

    • We’ve been here before. It is rare for any president to win with more than 51% of the electorate vote. That is a testament to the diversity of the American political spectrum and the competitiveness of advocacy and is not a statement of Obama’s capability or performance. Trust me, the Republicans know they got whipped big time.

      • It’s not just the election, Joe. I’ve been to many international and American blogs, yahoo, for example, and American mainstream media, both Liberals and Conservatives, reading the pulse of the American public through their comments there, and the results is clear—the American people is divided.

        • Yes, you are right, the partisan divide in the US has been widening and getting nasty in the fighting over it. Rather interestingly, I think the election will help temper the divisiveness because Republicans now realize they are losing women and minorities because of their association with extreme views. They must go back to the center or risk going irrelevant.

          • UPnnGrd

            JoeAm: you should llisten to Roberto’s message first, and his message is about Obama and it is about Obama’s failure to bridge the racial divide. USA after 4 years of a minority in the White House is just as (or maybe a tad even more) divided racially ‘dem versus ‘dose, yahhH hear.

            Masybe just maybe another minority — woman — would have done better. Too bad Hillary lost to Barack, but such is history.

          • What are you, Roberto’s guardian angel? What does Obama’s being a minority have anything to do about liberal/conservative divide? And is your slang meant to be “black talk”? If so, it is disgusting. Try thinking in these terms. Obama is a man, a very bright, good man, and a superb president. He’d be that if his skin were purple. Get a life.

          • UPnnGrd

            You still didn’t get the message. PersiObama should (because he now can, he’s got the mandate) PersiObama should show magnanimity to focus on getting a better working relationship with ‘dem-on-the-other-side. This “A black man is now in the White House, Wheee!!!!” would be super-Whoopee-doo, but the need is greater on getting things done.

            Listen to the message, Joe-Am. To push the line that “… ‘dem farty-fart Republicans are so archaic, they have to capitulate and do what Obama orders because American voters have spoken!!!” is just unwilingness to shine the spotlight on the fact that Obama has to work to get things working. Your earlier message that Obama should just let things go Ka-boom “over-the-fiscal-cliff” in order to humble the Republicans… really??? Really???? Humbling the republicans is a presidential metric??

            Obama has to work in order to get things working. And PersiObama is capable, he has already done it (he looked past the Republican-Label on Governor Christie’s jacket and instead he/PersiObama focused on the needs of American citizens, and America became the better for the action). He has to do more work —- that’s the nature of the job that he volunteered to take on una vez mas.

          • Not to humbe Republicans. I know that is impossible. To defeat them so that, indeed, he can do the work you are requesting without partisan interference.

          • UPnnGrd

            Well, Obama didn’t quite get to get that strong a mandate aftger all. Nope…. not true that Republicans are so defeated that Obama can roll right on merrily past any of their machinations. USA voters have spoken and the USA Congress election results deny Obama this wish that he does not have to make accomodations for Republican platforms.

          • Obama hasn’t gloated. I have. I enjoy watching the Republicans scraping egg and crow and hat from their faces. I enjoyed this article that explained why they lost. Overblown egos and stupidity seem to be the common threads. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/dowd-romney-is-president.html?_r=0

    • UPnnGrd

      Roberto…. —is that true?– Where did you see that number….. That 99% of black voters voted for Barack?

      • Forget it, UP n. It’s my personal opinion based on news and commentaries I read and I believed it’s about that huge. Sorry I can’t provide a link.

      • Exit polls reported that 93% of black voters voted for Obama. Google “percentage of blacks voting for Obama”.

        • Joe, on Yahoo news this morning: 9 out of 10 blacks voted for Obama.

    • manuelbuencamino


      1. “50% of American legitimate citizens does not like him.”

      Question: Are there any Americans who are non-legitimate citizens?

      2.”Irrelevant question, that should be asked four years ago before the 2008 election. ”

      That question was asked in 2008. That question was asked again in 2010. In both cases the majority of Americans answered that he will make for a better president than his opponent. You may disagree with the majority of the American people and you can bitch and whine for the next four years but that’s all you can do because like it or not the man got a fresh mandate from the American people, like it or not he is your president. So you might as well pray that he succeeds because if he fails then you are screwed and so will the rest of America.

      • MB, I will give you a very honest answer coming from my heart: I really wish/want Pres. Obama to succeed in making America the nation remains the greatest, the strongest, and the richest in the world and the American people as it were…a great people.

        But, MB, my wish is irrelevant because it’s up to Obama actually. Can he do it? What has he done to America and to his people the last four years of his reign in terms of improvement? The economy, jobs, the unity of his people…are those very important things something to be proud by all of his people. Not by a long shot. In my observation from where I stand, Pres. Obama is a very divisive president. So I have my doubts.

        • manuelbuencamino


          No Roberto. It’s not up to Obama actually. It’s up to you actually. Remember JFK’s famous dictum?

          Here’s the thing. Last week you and the rest of America had a chance to pick who will lead your country for the next four years. The majority of Americans picked Obama. Therefore the answer to your question is the majority of Americans think Obama did a good job and they want four more years of his leadership.

          Now as to Obama being a very divisive president…you know if you stop resisting and go along with his program there would be no division. So why lay division on his doorstep?

          Now you can argue as well that there would no division if Obama went along with your program. Unfortunately that does not hold water because Obama put his program to a vote and Romney put his program to a vote and the American people, a majority of them, decided they preferred Obama’s program.

          So the divisiveness comes from your end not from Obama and his supporters. You refuse accept the results of the election as a decision by the majority. You insist on fighting a battle that you already lost. And the only victory that you can hope for is to thwart the will of the majority. Is that what someone who really wishes for Obama to succeed?

          • MB, you know I believe this is not about Americans going along with their president, or the president going along with his people’s wishes. I think this is more of a leader failing to unite his people. And clearly Pres. Obama, as the leader of a great nation, failed to do that. This is not about the people leading the leader, but the leader should be leading the people. Unless Pres. Obama wants to lead from behind. In which case he will lose his way, and the people too.

          • Clearly the president failed to unite America, you say. No no no no. America is united in its diversity, from many, one. Only the extreme, the angry, do not accept the President as THEIR president. They are free to be bizarre. Even a dictator such as Marcos cannot “unite” a nation, because there are people from so many different ideas, faiths, ethnicities, political ideologies. ESPECIALLY in America, the most racially and religiously diverse nation in the world.The kind of unity you seek would be a nation of robot zombies.

            Obama won, a fair and free election. People may not like it, but they accept it, and are patriotically behind their president. In four years, they get their chance again.

            What is it, exactly, that you require of Obama to prove that he leads a united America? People disagree, loudly, sharply, but are proud to be American because they CAN disagree. They disagree, but they are one.

            Believe it.

          • Yes, Joe. America is united in its diversity, the people proud to be Americans, they love their own people, and passionately they love their country, the United States of America. They are the most patriotic people on earth, the exact reasons why America is the greatest and the most powerful nation on earth…and that is because of the kind of citizens America have since from the beginning. And mind you, that’s not, repeat NOT, Obama’s doing. On the contrary, from my perspective of your country’s political upheaval over the past years, Pres. Obama has not done much good for the well beings of your great country and for most of your great people.

          • You are entitled to your perspective, wrong though you may be. You have asked for my perspectives, I’ve provided it, and you don’t buy it. That’s fine, too.

          • Don’t misread extreme views as representative of “American” views. In any statistical population, there are the outliers a couple of standard deviations from the mean on the normal curve; They are atypical. I think you are reading the secession initiatives as a representative of all Republicans. Nope. They are mainly whackos.

          • manuelbuencamino


            We have a different understanding of unity and divisiveness. So first let’s each state our understanding of those words before we proceed with our conversation.

            My understanding of unity and divisiveness is : In a democracy getting a majority of the people to agree with you is unity enough. Divisiveness comes when the minority refuses to abide by the majority decision.

            What’s yours?

          • MB, you are correct. That’s why the Obama administration can’t pass a budget, that’s why there is a grid lock in the legislative, that’s why the Democrats and the Republicans under Obama admin are locked in perpetual bickering, that’s why 50 states of the USA are having petitions for secession, that’s why more than 50% of American bloggers/commenters do not have nice things to say about their president—because Pres. Obama does not have what it take to convince half of his people, the minority as you say, to agree with him.

            As to your unity, in a democracy, anyone can win an election, but if the winner can’t win the minority over to his side for the good of the country, that in my book is not unity. But that’s just me.

          • GabbyD

            first of all, its only 800,000 people who “signed” this petition. thats less than 1%.

            second, 50% of american bloggers? where r u getting these numbers.

            also, what are you looking for exactly? whats the magic number that makes a country unified? 100%?

            no democratic country is ever that unified on any complex thing. ever. in the history of the world.

            third, ” that’s why the Democrats and the Republicans under Obama admin are locked in perpetual bickering,” why is the bickering obama’s fault? why isnt it the republicans?

          • UPnnGrd

            I think, in a few months, someone other than Obama will make things happen so that the “fiscal cliff” is avoided and a budget gets passed. Besides, a most important photoOp for the next few months will be the Inauguration.

          • manuelbuencamino


            Not anyone can win an election. Proof: Obama won, Romney lost.

            In a democracy winning over to one’s side the minority which more often than not is the opposition is not and should not be the main priority of the majority. The majority is already in control, it has a mandate to pursue its agenda so why waste time on whiners and bitchers?

            In a democracy, the majority is only expected to respect the rights of the minority. That, in other words, means the majority must tolerate the bitching and the whining, humor them even, but the majority’s agenda must be pursued.

            The bus is leaving, you can get on it or you can stay in the station and wait for the next bus, it’s all up to you. By the wait for the next bus is four years and you’re not even sure it’s going to be your bus.

          • Roberto

            In that case, MB, I’m sorry to say that your bus is not leaving. It’s stalled and caught in a gridlock, the driver just kept on fidgeting, now planning to run it into a cliff, hehehe, :).

          • UPnnGrd

            I don’t even think “…. Americans believe Obama did a good job” is why he got re-elected. Roberto’s words have a lot of heft behind them — “What has he done to America and to his people the last four years of his
            reign in terms of improvement? The economy, jobs, the unity of his
            people…are those very important things something to be proud by all of
            his people. Not by a long shot.”

            The election-results (to my observation) was not based on What Has Obama accomplished in the last 4 years. The election turned on Who-Seemed-To-Make-The-Better-Promises and Romney’s promises??? Quite supra-unattractive. The guy would be willing-to-bankrupt-the-country to get the true value out. The guy was too much for “…those who broke the law should not be able to benefit from their actions” mantra.

  • UPnnGrd

    On a more parochial note, Malakanyang is reported to be very annoyed that USA “Foggy-Bottom” has not yet responded to explain why PresiObama is again skipping a visit to Manila. Amando Doronilla missed a detail —- Malakanyang shoulda used those devices that can do instant messaging and e-mail since letters???? It takes a long while for letters to get to-and-from Malakanyang and Washington DC.

    • If that’s true, they should get a life, like grow up. Such first grade children. The president’s trip is four days. He is visiting Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia, all in close proximity and on the way to the APEC summit he is attending. He’s a busy man, just coming off the election. This idolotry of the US should end. The Philippines should EARN its prestige and power, not beg it off of others. Good God Almighty.

  • You should see the Republican catfight, or maybe you have, clawing each other over the failed election. They had puffed themselves so full of Limbaugh Cheese Whiz that they believed everyone hated Obama. No, no. Most Americans mostly respect Obama but hate their underwater mortgages and the lack of jobs.

    If I were Obama, I’d play it pretty tight, even if it sent the U.S. over the cliff by bringing automatic budget cuts into play. I’d lay it all on Republicans for their failure to agree to tax hikes for the wealthy. Then in two years, I’d have all my legislation set up for when the House turns democrat.

    I don’t think it will come to that. I think Republicans are waking up to the fact that extremism is killing them. You can’t win elections with an extreme agenda. There’s more common sense in America than Limbaugh and Hannity give credit for.

    • manuelbuencamino


      You would be playing it like Clinton did Gingrich. The govt closed down and Gingrich was blamed for it and the rest as you know became a very dark chapter in Gingrinch’s shady life.

      I’m wondering how Obama will play it. He seems to me a uniter rather than a confrontational sort. Exciting days ahead for America

      • Agree. Obama is the ultimate patriotic pragmatist. He is not naturally a political animal, as he displayed in his first debate. But if someone elbows him, he is not backing down. Yes, he would rather get something done than play games.

        I see the Republican lunatic asylum collecting quite a crowd, guys walking around with their heads hunched into their shoulders like Nixon in a snit, angry old men who have lost face, Cheney, Gingrich, Rove, Bush on the side irrelevant to past or future, Steele, Gillaspie, Palin playing pat-a-cake with McCain. Where are the forthright leaders standing tall? Boehner will soon join the playmates I think. Republicans are tiring of his domineering way. Clint Eastwood!!! Toss him in too!!!

        • manuelbuencamino


          You know first time I saw Obama was when he guested on Letterman’s show as a newly elected senator from Illinois. I didn’t like him then, I thought he was too slick and his presidential ambition was pouring out of every pore. I filed him away after that. And then 2008. I read his book, followed the nomination process, and I began to respect him. After he was elected my respect grew even more and has grown ever since. I could understand why he didn’t want to engage Romney in the first debate, he was not going to waste an entire evening calling Romney on his lies. The other thing I liked about him was the way he ran his campaigns. Campaigns give voters a good idea of what to expect once a candidate assumes office. And Obama proved how well he can run things, from choosing the right people, to communicating the right message, and to making sure the organization works. Glad he won.

      • Just a bit of persnickety here, if Obama was a ‘uniter’, the last four years of his actions as president did not show it, he failed. Ooooops, sorry, I forgot. It’s Limbaugh and Bonner’s fault, :).