The best thing to happen to Barack Obama is that the Republicans cleaned his clock in 2010. He is suddenly looking not so bad for 2012.
The November debacle made it obvious — even to the ultra-conventional left-liberal Obama — that the United States of America is a center-right country. He hired business-friendly William Daley as his chief-of-staff and came out roaring with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, of all places, that made him sound like a re-upped columnist for Reason magazine (well, mostly). It’s not hard to predict that his State of the Union address will stress cutting the deficit and reprise tropes from his let’s-all-learn-to-love-each-other kumbaya from the Tucson memorial.
November also helped him in that it further marginalized his left flank. Left-wing Democrats can now be placated by the most minor of bones. They have nowhere else to go, except perhaps running Dennis Kucinich in the primaries, which would be comic relief. And given the state of the global economy, few believe in Keynesian economics anymore anyway, except a handful of last-ditch bureaucrats in Brussels and the commenters on the Huffington Post.
But wait, you say, isn’t Obama a leftist ideologue? Won’t that come out in the end? What about Bill Ayers, Rashid Khalidi, and Reverend Wright?
Well, sure, but that was then and this is now, I’m sorry to say. As many have pointed out, Obama is a supreme narcissist and, for such a person, advancement of self trumps ideology virtually anytime. Forget the mind-numbing palaver about sticking to his ideals even if it means losing the election. If Obama has to tilt right to win, he will tilt right.
And he doesn’t need Dick Morris to explain to him how to “triangulate.” The information is in plain sight to a ninth grader running for middle school president. Obama also doesn’t need to be as politically astute or emotionally centrist as Bill Clinton to execute this plan. He’s the president, with all those levers at his disposal. Besides, as I mentioned, it’s not all that complicated. He doesn’t even have to believe it. The media will do that for him.
So where does this leave the Republicans’ presidential ambitions? Not in a particularly good place, I am again sorry to say. They must rely on a serious financial decline or, at best, a continued luffing of our already bad economy — something few of us really want — to win. Or they must hope I am wrong and Obama’s true leftist tendencies — and/or those of his czars — emerge to such a degree that its gets the president rejected by the American public. This latter is not very likely and, even if it does happen, can be walked back or spun by that complaisant media.
The president’s big Achilles heel is the nearly universally despised ObamaCare, which, as many have written, is simultaneously an economic and medical disaster while being incomprehensible in the first place. But even in this arena, he may be saved by a conservative Supreme Court, which seems primed to overturn the legislation, leaving Obama free to walk away from the mess or blame it on Reid and Pelosi.
Is there any hope in all this? Well, yes. It seems as if the Senate will still go Republican in 2012 and we are headed for years of gridlock. Business loves that and the economy should revive at some point. That will be good for this country and the world. So be of good cheer and remember these words by William Morris (the Victorian, not the agent) in a novel he wrote set during the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381:
I pondered how men fight and lose the battle and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men fight for what they meant under another name.
That’s the way I see things now. Of course, like any good member of Congress, I reserve the right to emend and extend my remarks.