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What can Obama learn from Bill Clinton?

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What can Obama learn from Bill Clinton?


Elected on promises of hope and change, Barack Obama’s reforming presidency could take a hit if the Republicans win big in the US midterms.

All 435 House of Representatives seats, 37 of 100 Senate seats, and 37 governorships are up for grabs in the November 2 contest. It comes halfway between Obama’s November 2008 victory and the 2012 presidential ballot.

The president has succeeded in passing a landmark healthcare bill and a massive stimulus package in the past two years.

However, his approval rating has sunk to a low of 44 per cent according to pollsters Gallup, amid voter concerns about the state of the US economy.
Obama’s highest-ever approval rating was 68 per cent in May 2009.

Obama can still extend his stay in the White House past 2012, provided he takes a lesson from history, according to Bradley Blakeman, a former aide to President George W. Bush.

“If Obama was smart, he would start reading up on what Clinton did after 1994. Clinton realised that in order to provide the kind of accomplishment he needed to get re-elected, he had to work across the aisle,” said Blakeman.

Clinton’s Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives and the Senate after those disastrous elections. The 42nd President of the United States then moved to occupy the centre ground and adopted a more compromising stance on policy, working with lawmakers from both sides of Congress.

Analysts argue that Obama should borrow from Clinton’s bipartisan approach in the mid-1990s if he wants to win another four-year term.

“Is Obama willing to settle for a number of small, incremental measures that add up to something successful?” University of Arkansas professor Andrew Dowdle was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying.

For those on Capitol Hill, Obama needs to ask himself one question: what would Bill Clinton do?

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