Don’t be surprised if Obama tries to pull off an “October Surprise.”
The term became part of the American political lexicon in the 1980s: allegedly, the Iranians held off on releasing American hostages until after the election, denying Jimmy Carter a last-minute boost at the polls. Ever since then, the electorate has been on watch for late-breaking attempts to swing the race for the White House one way or the other.
It makes sense for the Obama administration to take a shot at propping up the nominee of their party by delivering some great-sounding foreign policy news at the 11th hour.
The president’s track record on foreign affairs has been one disappointment after another: from the Russian “reset” to the disaster in Benghazi and the rise of ISIS, the Oval Office has almost a perfect score of failure. That’s a bad impression to leave behind. To make matters worse, Obama seems to treat foreign policy disasters as a distraction, while he drifts from golf to baseball to the tango.
Foreign affairs and national security look like top interests for Americans as they head to November — what might Obama try to make his side look good before he heads out the door?
5. Cavorting with Kim?
The bad boy from North Korea, Kim Jung Un, has been more than a little threatening of late. Maybe the White House will try for a late-breaking thaw in relations by bribing Pyongyang to replace the decades-old armistice with a peace treaty.
4. Lowering the Black Flag?
Obama would like nothing more than to see ISIS destroyed before he leaves office. He might even be willing to put a few more boots on the ground to make that happen. This would be huge for the president: the global Islamist insurgency has mushroomed on his watch, so he would love to leave claiming the West has turned the corner.
3. Touchdown with the Taliban?
The White House has craved a deal with the Taliban as an excuse to pull the plug on the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. Right now, however, the prospects are pretty dim.
2. Normalize with the Castros?
Obama would love to round out his Cuban policy by getting Congress to remove all sanctions on the regime in Havana. Fat chance of that happening, but he received plenty of glassy-eyed press over his recent trip.
1. Sign Another Treaty?
Progressive Obama would like nothing more than to claim our nonproliferation strategy is anything but moribund. U.S. officials have long called for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Republican Senator Corker, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said that he “sees no environment in which the committee or the Senate would take it up anytime soon.”
What else might the White House be thinking? Love to hear other folks’ notions of what’s in store for the October Surprise.