A quarterback has four quarters to manage and win a game. A president has four years in a term to define his vision, then manage and guide his agenda into law and policy.
As any quarterback will tell you, all quarters are equally important, but the fourth quarter is the most important. That’s when the field general and the time manager excel.
Sometimes, a quarterback has to make things happen in the fourth quarter — when the game is close, but especially when the team’s behind.
But sometimes the best thing a quarterback can do is just bide his time — let his defense work, run some running plays, kill clock. When you’ve got a lead, the smart play is to keep the pressure on and run the high-percentage plays.
We’re not into the final quarter of Obama’s term yet. That starts after the mid-term elections in 2014. But in the last quarter of this year, he may already be in control-the-clock mode — because he can still play and find bipartisan solutions to our problems.
The modern presidency has moved from an “imperial presidency” to a “quarterbacking presidency.” And if that’s the case, we’ve got another quarter to go this year. We’ll soon learn — for Obama, Congress and the country — if the year that was, was a very good year.
Donna Brazile is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News, and a contributing columnist to Ms. Magazine and O, the Oprah Magazine.