Monday, January 25, 2010

Is Obama Serious?

The White House line after Massachusetts seems to be full speed ahead. That seems to be the usual Obama way, from the campaign through the first year. No change for the fiscal meltdown. No change to fight the recession. Just stay with the game plan.

Now, after three losses in a row, in states that voted for Obama in 2008, the Obama White House is again signaling no change in the agenda.

For Republicans and conservatives, the word is: Go ahead, make my day. Give us a Republican Congress in 2010.

As Mark Steyn wrote over the weekend, Obama ran for president "as something he’s not, and never has been: a post-partisan, centrist, transformative healer." But let's give him credit. He's governed as something he really is: a left-liberal big-government partisan.

That's fine. But the American people have just said, at the voting booth, that they don't like the real Obama one bit. The real Obama is not what independents voted for, not at all. They thought they were voting for the candidate that was presented to them: a post-partisan, post-racist, centrist.

In a way, you can understand that Obama could feel that he might as well stay true to his beliefs. Whatever he can get done, he gets done, and he nails it up on the barn wall as a win. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

But there's a problem with that strategy. The ordinary Democratic officeholder that is facing reelection in November isn't going to go along. He or she is facing wipeout, and probably isn't going to want to go quietly.

That adds up to a split in the Democratic Party. And that is not going to be good for the president's agenda.

Of course, all the talk of fighting and staying the course may be bravado to keep the media busy while the president's team plans a pivot.

Or the president may be serious. The truth is that all his options are bad options, right now. The president faces an annus horribilis with nothing but bad news. Maybe the best thing to do is to hunker down and sweat it out.

But maybe, by hunkering down, he will lead the Democrats in Congress into an historic meltdown comparable to the 1938 mid-term elections when the Dems lost 80 seats in the House.

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