Given that the policies of the last three years — $5 trillion in borrowing, massive green subsidies, Obamacare, expansions in food stamps and unemployment insurance, new regulations, etc. — are unlikely to get GDP growth above 3 percent or unemployment below 8 percent before the 2012 election, and given that we won’t see new tax cuts, less regulation, or massive new gas and oil development, I don’t think President Obama can expect much good news on the economy or indeed the domestic front in general.
To the degree Obama has had bumps up in his popularity, they have been almost entirely due to airborne foreign policy — killing bin Laden and Awlaki, or the removal of Qaddafi. I think that we can expect more missiles and bombs (but not feet on the ground) in the next year or so — an expansion of Predators to get another a high-value target (ideally, Dr. Zawahiri), a sudden warming with Israel, given the importance of states like Florida, new pressure on a tottering Syria, and, if things get bad in 2012, a new toughness with Iran with a preemptive strike not out of the question.
All this is, of course, a reset of the reset, a rejection of the 2009 policies — the Cairo speech, the snubbing of Netanyahu, the reestablishment of relations with Syria, the willingness to talk with Iran. Apparently, if Obama cannot change economic policies, then he can at least change his foreign policy, given that when he does, he gets political upswings — as long as he gets quick iconic results from missiles and bombs without the dangers of deploying troops on the ground or an expansion of the war beyond the country or target in question.