President Obama, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, John Boehner, and Marco Rubio Are The Key Political Players in 2011


With Christmas decorations being packed away and New Year’s celebrations still fresh in our minds, we have arrived in 2011.  In Washington, the new year also brings a new structure in government.  Power sharing is on display, as last fall’s mid-term election set the stage for a revamped political production.  Let’s peer into the crystal ball to see what could develop…

President Obama and Sarah Palin

With Christmas decorations being packed away and New Year’s celebrations still fresh in our minds, we have arrived in 2011.  In Washington, the new year also brings a new structure in government.  Power sharing is on display, as last fall’s mid-term election set the stage for a revamped political production.  Let’s peer into the crystal ball to see what could develop…

President Obama and Sarah Palin

Both of these names click the ticket for many boarding each political train.  The combination of a tortured economy and lurking terrorism have upset many apple carts.  President Obama and former Governor Sarah Palin will continue to find spilled fruit on the ground of every corner stand in every town. 

As they travel they will both find that some don’t want anyone helping them to retrieve their apples.  They will do it themselves! 

Others, are okay with being helped, but don’t take kindly to suggestions about how they could have prevented their cart from tipping over.  They have been doing it their way for years and know better!  Then there are those individuals who just want to leave apples in the street, file an insurance claim for their loss, and pack it all in.  They have had it!

We are living in exclamatory times.  Most are rightly agitated and understandably unsure of everything.  It follows that large segments of society are not going to “buy-in” to any proposed solutions.  Those who were burned badly are applying homemade ointment and can’t afford to pay for, or don’t want to risk trying, any new remedies.  (Yes, something was intentionally put in the eye of this paragraph to create a wink at the current health care debate.)


Despite what people think, President Obama is tough and will not be easily beaten in 2012.  He represents the modern face of Progressive thought.  People who don’t favor modern Democratic ideas, naturally won’t like a person who charged out of the blue to win the Presidency.  So, he is not a polarizer, but more of a winner who will always ruffle the feathers of those who couldn’t fathom his success.

President Obama and both Houses of Congress face a new reality this year.  They must work together in new ways, or face the consequences of stalemate politics.  During the year many Republican candidates and the President, will announce their plans for the 2012 Presidential campaign.  

Does Palin polarize people, as some suggest?  Not really.  She merely represents the most popular face of Conservatism.  People who don’t like that brand, were already inclined to dislike her.  Palin’s attractive face merely pushes buttons that were already preset. 

Reality TV

The former Governor’s ongoing public presence, seen through venues like Sarah Palin’s Alaska, is obviously intentional.  She wants to maintain her platform, which is no different than other politicos have done.  Her rhetoric has changed recently, as she no longer deflects the possibility of seeking the Republican nomination. The brand she is creating gives her an entry point into the primary battle and a way to fight for the nomination.  It does seem likely that there will be a brawl within that party.

Clearly there is an undercurrent of dislike in the media and among a segment of the population for Palin.  However, the same is true for Obama.  There would almost certainly be at least one other third party candidate of significance involved in the election if these two candidates square off.  The influence of a third candidate in this type of race seems conceivable based upon some past Presidential campaigns and the recent mid-term election. 

Less than 50% of the vote can win an election when more than two viable people are aiming for the top spot.  That means the President could win reelection despite fractured support, or Palin could win without a majority vote.  As we head into 2012, the electorate may feel more confident in the economy and in the future.  That would put the President in a much stronger position to win reelection regardless of who, or how many opponents, he would face.

Other Players

Harry Reid ( D – Nevada) defied the odds, won reelection, and remains the Senate Democratic Majority Leader.  He must feel empowered to continue on the same political path.  Often times people who do so are derided by their foes.  Someone who genuinely believes in a political point of view, has been reelected many times, and has achieved various legislative victories over the years, will generally not change course.  Why should they?  Sure, there may be instances where considered compromise is made, but sticking to core beliefs is logical both for political and for personal reasons.

Reid’s presence in the Senate means that both Houses have to work together to make legislative progress.  It will be interesting to see how he and John Boehner gel.  These  seasoned politicians will need to continue to push a heavy economic ball up the hill.  The relationship formed on that incline could alter its grade and a future one they might receive from their own electorates.   

John Boehner ( R – Ohio ) has two recent, highly downloaded, hits.  Both were generated from the impassioned speeches he made last year.  One, on the floor of the House, voiced his opposition to the health care bill that passed.  The other was in response to the Republican’s November mid-term victory romp.  Like Reid, he is someone who sticks to his core convictions.

It could be politically advantageous for him, as Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, and his party if the economy does not gain steam before the 2012 election.  If it does not, the Republicans might be primed to take over the Senate and the Presidency.  Boehner’s strategy will be key.  Not too much, not too little, just in the middle, on every possible Democratic salvo.

Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State), the former First Lady, finished runner-up in the 2008 Democratic primary.  She is sixty-three years old now and will only be sixty-nine at the time of the 2016 Presidential election.  So, it is true what our teachers told us.  Calculation learned in Math class can be applied elsewhere in life.

Sure, in some unusual scenario where President Obama does not seek re-election, she could run in 2012.  If he does run, Hillary Clinton remains on-track to seek the Presidency in the next election cycle regardless of whether he wins or losses.  If he wins reelection, she will likely continue to hold her post for a certain amount of time into that second term, after which she could depart to prepare for her run.  If he loses the election in 2012, she would naturally become the front runner for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

It all makes sense.  Has she damaged herself in any way that has resonated with the public during these past few years.  No?   As a matter of fact, she smartly accepted defeat and then embraced a position of prominence within the Administration.  Does anything in her background indicate that she is afraid of yet another challenge? 

Michele Bachmann ( R – Minnesota ) made news by forming the Tea Party Caucus last summer.  That, combined with the growing influence (i.e. votes and financial backing) of this movement, means that she has recognized and is riding this particular wave.  Foregone conclusions many had about how the Tea Party wouldn’t do this, or wouldn’t develop into that, have proven to be off base so far.

Bachmann’s potential to develop into an influential national figure can happen if she is able to deliver for her constituency.  Logic seems to indicate that the Tea Party is a real  political movement that remains populist in nature.  Underestimate no one and nothing during these particular political times.

Marco Rubio ( R – Florida )  He is a thirty-nine year old, newly-elected Senator.  First elected in 2000, he rose to become the Sunshine state’s Speaker of the House in 2006.  He appears to have the intangibles needed for a long political career.  Rubio may also have just earned the same pole position that a former Senator, from the 13th district of Illinois, claimed before moving on to the highest office.

Rubio’s base is founded on a number of key elements which include being:  Conservative,  Catholic, and a Cuban-American.  Keep an eye on what types of committee assignments and leadership roles his party offers him access to.  Those deemed as rising stars are also allowed major face-time during situations of national importance. 

As with all matters political, opinion rules.  So, let’s maintain a realistic glimpse into that  crystal ball during this new year.  In doing so we should see that our elected officials are working on solutions.  We will also realize that our country has complex issues that will not be easily resolved.

Contact Sean O’Brien at

Obama/Palin photo from

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  1. Thank you

    Rick, Thank you for reading this article and for your post.  I read your article on the link you provided.  Very insightful comments about how the country could benefit from individuals who are in tune with current/future business realities. 


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