President Obama has had a rather challenging start to the Summer of 2010: Gen. McChrystal's remarks to Rolling Stone magazine and the resulting shift of NATO control in Afghanistan to Gen. Petraeus; the continuation of the high-profile and painful BP oil spill; the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination hearings; and the move by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to enact strict immigration control policies within her overwhelmed state.
In it all, the president has had the opportunity to step up and re-assert himself after a bad few months for him politically. And in part, he was able to do just that. His pick of Gen. Petraeus to step in for Gen. McChrystal was the smart move from a political and military perspective; however, it opened a wound within his party that he will most assuredly face in December when the issue of our Afghanistan policy is once again debated.
Gen, Petraeus would not publicly commit to the merits of a July 2011 timeline as many Democrats have been demanding. The administration knew that the general would sail through his nomination and it could not have gone much better than it did -- 99-0! However, they merely tabled the debate that will come later this year when the likes of MoveOn.Org, Senators Durbin, Schumer and Reid, and Speaker Pelosi once again make their demands for withdrawal public. And this time they will be able to fight that fight without the threat of looming mid-term elections -- possibly putting the president on the defensive as he turns his attention to his own re-election effort.
While it appears that Elena Kagan will become the next United States Supreme Court Justice -- filling the vacancy left by retiring Justice John Paul Stevens -- Republican Senators appeared to be emboldened by her lack of a judicial record and achievements and have homed in on a period during her tenure as the Dean of Harvard's prestigious law school where she refused to allow the military to recruit on campus. Such an argument, while seemingly not enough to derail her nomination, will feed the firestorm already brewing around the country around the president's patriotism and reverence to the military.
This summer is heating up for President Obama, but not in a way he has envisioned. He has much work ahead to try and right the ship before it is his turn to ask the voters for a second term. And right now, his fate is far less certain than many pundits were predicting just last summer.