How Does a Leftist Govern America?
Voters might not have put Obama in the White House had they known last year what they know now.
August 2, 2009 - 12:00 am
As Karl Rove explained, Obama’s fetish for big government has led him to embrace a health care reform that in essence missed the public:
Mr. Obama’s problem is that nine out of 10 Americans would likely get worse health care if ObamaCare goes through. Of those who do not have insurance — and who therefore might be better off — approximately one-fifth are illegal aliens, nearly three-fifths make $50,000 or more a year and can afford insurance, and just under a third are probably eligible for Medicaid or other government programs already.
For the slice of the uninsured that is left — perhaps about 2% of all American citizens — Team Obama would dismantle the world’s greatest health care system. That’s a losing proposition, which is why Mr. Obama is increasingly resorting to fear and misleading claims. It’s all the candidate of hope has left.
And it has missed his own party as well — sending Blue Dogs to howl in protest.
First on the stimulus plan, then on cap and trade, and now on health care Obama has overreached and misread the public’s appetite for big government and big tax increases. The more he sells, the less comfortable the public feels with the cumulative effect of his very liberal agenda.
The easy solution, you might think, is to veer toward the center. But Obama has never embraced a centrist agenda or sensibility except on the campaign trail. He may have no interest in repeating the incrementalism that characterized the Clinton years.
And then there is the liberal Congress, which certainly doesn’t want, in their moment of greatest glory, to retreat from the agenda built up over many years in the political wilderness. Now is their moment to jam whatever they can through.
In sum, the gaps between candidate Obama and President Obama and between Obama and the American people are not likely to be narrowed anytime soon. Politicians are not given to introspection or concessions except under extreme duress. It may therefore take another election to deprive liberals of a governing majority in Congress and to deliver a wake-up call to the White House. Only then might a very liberal president govern effectively in a center-right country.