The Campaign Spot

Will Presidential ‘Small Ball’ Work at This Moment?

Today Pres. Barack “Punish Our Enemies” Obama hosted a White House summit on bullying.

It reminded me of Bill Clinton’s sudden interest in promoting school uniforms after his own disastrous midterm elections. (Please, no jokes about Clinton’s long-established interest in schoolgirl uniforms.) It’s worth noting that when Bill Clinton made his school-uniform push in February 1996, the country was enjoying relative peace and prosperity. That month the unemployment rate was 5.5 percent and the economy created 700,000 jobs. The stock market was on a tear. The U.S. had no serious ongoing military conflict, though the Khobar Towers bombing and the frightening crash of TWA Flight 800 were a few months away.

In other words, I suspect voters are fine with a president playing “small ball” when there are no other major pressing problems. But unemployment is still high, the housing market is awful in most of the country, Qaddafi is crushing his opponents, our friendly regimes in the Middle East are wobbly, state capitals are going broke, and the deficit is $1.6 trillion this year. How much should the commander in chief be focused on school bullying?

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