Those who attempt to paint the president's appearance on The View this Thursday as a reaction to the Shirley Sherrod situation or as a political triumph miss the point.
President Barack Obama did not appear on the ABC midmorning show because he was on the defense after the Sherrod-Breitbart bungle. He was going on the offense to re-engage a base he desperately needs for the Democrats in 2010 and for his own candidacy in 2012.
In many ways, Republicans are in a position to win big in November because they are running against the president and the Democrats, not because of sparkling leadership from within their ranks or rock-star candidates that are creating a national buzz.
Political watchers are also aware that Obama's legacy and candidacy face as many threats from Democratic circles as he does from Republican pundits and critics based on the poll numbers, unemployment figures and growing dissension among Democrats in Congress.
Just as weak incumbent Jimmy Carter faced a volley of criticism and a strong candidate from his own party (Sen. Ted Kennedy) when he sought a second term, Obama may also have to deal with Democratic presidential aspirants as the major challenge to his goals for 2012. Respected Democratic politicians ranging from Indiana's Evan Bayh to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be notable challengers to Obama in the primary process as candidates who could raise money as well as issues where legitimate policy differences could be debated — Bayh as a Blue Dog (and frustrated) U.S. Senator, and Mrs. Clinton as the "what if" candidate from 2008.
Even if Obama were to win the nomination against notable foes during the primary process in 2012 (as did Carter over Kennedy), a heated race for the nomination involving these potential challengers could do plenty to derail the president's re-election efforts in 2012. Because this threat from within — perhaps more than any current threat from a Republican personality at this time — Obama made the good public relations move to appear on The View with a full cast of supporters (aside from conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck) who would throw softball questions for him to knock out of the park.
Without a resurging economy or a White House that knows how to play high-visibility situations appropriately in the media, President Obama clearly sees that his primary procurer of political capital is himself, and without getting back on the campaign trail in friendly arenas, his view — both as a partisan in 2010 and as a candidate in 2012 — may quickly end up that of someone looking in from the outside.
Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the author of the book Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative), available for purchase online at www.tinyurl.com/lennysdiary and www.amazon.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/lennyhhr and on Facebook at www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .