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Ed Driscoll

A Little Late for the Third Way

December 8th, 2010 - 12:03 pm

While the Democrats’ civil war rages on, an Instapundit reader quips,”You know, I didn’t vote for Barack W. Bush, but I’m starting to like the cut of this man’s jib:”

  • Leaving Gitmo open.
  • No trials for terrorists
  • 30,000-soldier surge in Afghanistan.
  • Extending tax cuts.
  • Re-upping the Patriot Act.

And of course, George W. Bush ran in 2000 with the explicit promise as more of a continuation of Bill Clinton’s post-’94 “Third Way” policies than Al Gore, who was much further left than the American mainstream, even then. (And Bush was a continuation of Clinton’s policies in more ways than one of course.)

But perhaps because of Clinton’s southern good ol’ boy persona and salesmanship — and sheer lust for to remain in power for another four years — he could pivot to the center relatively seamlessly in retrospect. It helped that he ran as a centrist; his tack to the hard left after taking office is what led to the Republicans winning in 1994 in the first place.

No such luck with Clinton’s Democrat successor having as smooth a pivot towards the center, as Allahpundit noted yesterday — he’s willing to go there, but he’ll remind you how ever so painful it is for him to compromise his grand Chicago ideals:

Ace’s co-blogger DrewM had the best take on this afternoon’s presser turned mini-meltdown: “Man, if Obama is Spock, he’s in the middle of the Pon Farr.” Two clips for you, the first of him snottily reprising Bob Menendez’s terrorist analogy by comparing Republicans to “hostage-takers” on taxes — and then using that to justify his decision to negotiate with them(!). Note to The One: Probably not a good idea for America’s top law enforcement officer and military commander-in-chief to broadcast the fact that he’ll come to the table only if you play rough enough with him.

Or as Peter Wehner wrote at Commentary yesterday, “He has met the enemy, and they are him:”

It appears to me that Obama is a man of tremendous internal contradictions. He fancies himself as a post-partisan, post-ideological figure who alone can elevate public discourse. He obviously took great pride in presenting himself as America’s Socrates during the presidential campaign.

At the same time, Mr. Obama is a man of unusual arrogance who, if things don’t go his way, becomes prickly. He lashes out. And he begins to feel sorry for himself. Notoriously thin-skinned and accustomed to worshipful treatment by those around him (including the press), Obama is now clearly disquieted.

On some deep level, Obama must understand that, at this moment at least, his presidency is coming apart. It’s not at all clear to me that he’s particularly well equipped to deal with the shifting fortunes, the hardships, and the battering that a president must endure. Difficult circumstances seem to be bringing out his worst qualities rather than his best. And that may be what was on display this afternoon.

Scroll down the Commentary house blog for John Podhoretz’s near line-by-line blogging of Obama’s speech and its often Olbermann-esque rhetoric. As Rich Lowry wrote yesterday, “We’ve learned today that what really gets under his skin and makes him boil is criticism, and especially criticism from progressives.”

Wait, there are actually Americans to his right? This always seems to be news to The Won.

On a purely partisan level, there’s plenty of schadenfreude to be had watching the second coming of Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Spock, Caesar and Christ melt down. On the other hand, the last two years have done enormous damage to the fabric of the nation via the endless internal conflicts from the man sold to the American people as “no drama Obama.”

Will the White House begin to affect a more grownup tone beginning next month when the GOP Congress takes office? Why should we hope for change now?

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