CHICAGO—After coming to terms with the limited scope of what he can realistically expect to accomplish as president, Barack Obama announced Wednesday a new, more practical campaign slogan that will serve as the cornerstone for his 2012 reelection bid: "I Have Big Ideas But We'll See How It Goes."
"My fellow citizens, I stand here today to tell you that, if given a second term, I have very big plans for our nation's future," Obama said during a rally at Chicago's Navy Pier. "Ambitious, forward-thinking plans I will have to drastically scale down based on opinion polls, budget considerations, and political roadblocks, but, you know, I'll see what I can do. No promises, though."
"More than likely I'll have to placate political rivals until my bold agenda is a shell of what it once was." Obama added. "And that's what the 'We'll See' campaign is all about. Now let us go boldly forth and compromise our ideals."
Saying he intends to give certain initiatives a shot but that it's not looking very good, Obama cited lasting bipartisanship cooperation in Congress, birth-control coverage for all women, and an affordable college education for every citizen as concrete examples of ridiculous ideas that Americans need to put out of their minds, because, according to the president, "We're not living in a fantasyland here."
Instead, Obama said he hopes to rally voters behind causes like holding teachers accountable for student performances "while remembering tenure provisions that protect terrible educators from getting fired," imposing a surtax on millionaires "unless of course Republicans fight me really hard, which, in that case, what are you going to do," and an economic stimulus bill to fund new infrastructure that "doesn't have a chance in hell of passing but sure would be nice."
"Think of the America within our reach: a nation of entrepreneurs and innovators and dreamers capable of making big plans that will eventually be crushed by acrimonious gridlock," Obama said to smattering applause. "That's the future I see for America, because, let's be honest, that's just how it's always going to be."
"Then again, you never know," Obama continued, "If 50 or 60 key people die, there's a chance some of my policy ideas might at least make it past various Senate and House committees. Fingers crossed."
According to top campaign strategist David Axelrod, the new slogan's message may sideline older themes like hope and change, but it allows Obama to portray himself as the sensible candidate who can think big, back off that thought because it has no chance of actually happening, and then settle for something nowhere near as exciting.
Axelrod said the slogan was chosen after a brainstorming session that saw the coining of such phrases as "Change We Can Believe In If We Critically Redefine The Term," "Hope Within The Boundaries Of Common Sense And Lowered Expectations," and "Look, Any Guy You Vote Into Office Is Going To Face The Same Bullshit Problems Every President—Democrat Or Republican—Has Faced For Decades, So It Might As Well Be Me: Obama 2012."
"'Yes We Can' really resonated with citizens because they needed hope," said Axelrod, who was wearing a 'We'll See' button that depicts a subdued President Obama weighing two options, both of which, Axelrod confirmed, are less than ideal. "'I Have Big Ideas But We'll See How It Goes' resonates because people have been beaten down and know they shouldn't get their hopes up in terms of the country improving."
Many pundits have already condemned the new slogan, saying that while its language may capture the spirit of the political moment, its rhetoric is too optimistic.
"On the one hand, the slogan works because it avoids using overly presumptive words like 'win,' 'tomorrow,' 'future,' or 'better,'" Politico's chief White House correspondent Mike Allen said. "But using a phrase like 'We'll See' is also misleading, because it implies there is a slight possibility that something could happen. Unfortunately, voters need to realize that, at this point, nothing they could ever envision for the future—and I seriously mean nothing—has any chance of ever becoming a reality."