Obama's budget deal: a mixed blessing

(Posted April 17, 2011) One of the trickier things about reading horoscopes is making sense of mixed planetary influences.  Most of time, the planets are neither wholly good or wholly bad but something in between.  This can therefore manifest as the proverbial "cloud with a silver lining" or with a gain that comes with strings attached.  Jupiter is considered a reliably positive influence and often brings good events that are marked by achievement, rewards and happiness.  However, there are times when this is not the case.  Sometimes Jupiter acts more as a double-edged sword where success comes at a price or there is some downside attached to it.  This is perhaps more likely if Jupiter is in a weakened condition in the natal chart so the transit will sometimes reflect this original state.

A more explicitly mixed situation arises when the horoscope is characterized by simultaneous positive and negative planetary transits which can produce an event or situation that is more complex in terms of its lived reality and its outcome.  A mostly positive Jupiter transit may occur at the same time as a stressful Saturn transit.  This can mean that the success or achievement (Jupiter) occurs only under duress and after a lot of work (Saturn).  Or it may mean that the Jupiter influence brings about the desired outcome but Saturn somehow distorts it so that its positive effects do not last or perhaps actually cause problems soon after.

An example of how this might work can be seen in the chart of US President Barack Obama.  On Friday April 8, 2011 Obama successfully negotiated a budget deal with the House Republicans that prevented a shutdown of the government.  The talks to avert the shutdown went down to the wire but in the end, Obama reached a deal with GOP House leader Boehner.  In that sense, the deal was a victory for Obama but it came at a cost.  In keeping with the Republicans preference for smaller government and lower deficits, the deal cut federal spending by $38 billion. This was a significant compromise for Obama who would have liked to avoid such austerity measures.  But the GOP majority in the House essentially left him with no choice, so he forged a deal and avoided what could have been a very damaging shutdown. 

Since that deal, critics within his own Democrat Party and throughout the media have come out asking why he gave in to the Republican demands.  Obama was quick to take credit for the deal and to make all the right noises about the need for government to live responsibly within its means, but most liberal democrats feel it was a victory in name only as it went against fundamental party aims.

We can see that Obama's horoscope was quite energized at the time of the budget deal as Jupiter, Sun and Mercury were all just a degree or two away from the equal 3rd house cusp and thus were in a tight 60 degree aspect (sextile) with the ascendant at 24 Capricorn.  The 3rd house represents taking action and realizing one's desires with courage and determination.   Having all three of these planets in the 3rd would have focused his efforts along these lines and likely enhanced his chances for success, especially since benefic Jupiter was present in the mix.  Since the 3rd house symbolizes the hands, the 3rd is therefore bound up with making things and acting (with one's metaphorical hands) and trying to reshape the world after one's own ideas and desires. The 3rd house also represents creativity and communication and the presence of Mercury, the planet of communication, in this place along with Jupiter, the planet of wisdom and counsel, is very telling.  Obama likely made full use of its persuasive abilities to get this agreement done.

One thing we should point out about Obama's Jupiter, however, is that it rules the 12th house of loss and isolation (Sagittarius).  This can be a negative influence in most worldly activities as Jupiter will sometimes carry this sense of isolation or loss when it transits over sensitive points in the chart.  This is one reason perhaps that Obama may have felt that he had little choice in these negotiations and why he may now feel isolated from his own party.  Jupiter is still Jupiter, of course, and in that sense it is closely associated with success and achievement.  But in Obama's case it may be tinged with some of this 12th house energy, so that victories may come with reservations or have some unsettled quality to them.

The other possible interpretation of the equivocal nature of Obama's budget deal is that the criticism and disappointment doesn't come from Jupiter at all, but rather from the situation of Rahu, the North Lunar Node.  Since Obama is running his Jupiter-Rahu dasha period, Rahu may take on a special significance at the present time. As we can see in the chart, transiting Rahu (1 Sagittarius) is close to coming under the influence of the square aspect from his natal Mars (29 Leo).  Mars is often a malefic energy that increases frustration and opposition to one's actions, so its aspect to Rahu could cause more people to question Obama's actions.  We know that he is coming under more criticism for his handling of the Libya crisis, and this perhaps is a more obvious embodiment of the Mars energy since it directly relates to war and military action.  The other potential problem is that his Mars is placed in the 8th house which can promote uncertainty regarding applications of energy and force. When it is under stress, Mars in the 8th can translate into an awkwardness about taking action and executive decisions.  Willpower and drive may be mixed with self-doubt and this can result in a vulnerability to attack from others.  This may be emerging as one of Obama's shortcomings as he often hesitates before taking decisive action. 

So the downside to the budget deal may be reflected in this rising opposition to Obama in the Mars-Rahu aspect.  Aside from any natal blemish on Jupiter, the stressed condition of transiting Rahu would tend to increase fallout from whatever his might have achieved from an otherwise favourable alignment of planets in his 3rd house.  The 3rd house delivered the deal and his immediate sense of accomplishment and relief in avoiding the government shutdown, but his afflicted Rahu brought out the critics and may serve to undermine his victory.   It's also worth noting that transiting Rahu will remain under the aspect of his natal Mars for another month or two so it seems likely that Obama will continue to feel pressure from opponents, both domestic (e.g Boehner) and foreign (e.g. Gaddafi).