With a tip of the hat to Ed Morrissey, Politico’s Todd Purdum says it’s “Obama’s big Clinton moment” and the President’s embrace of the triangulation of the ’90s. Read:
In the six years of his presidency, Obama hasn’t had to do much of that kind of compromising, nor has he been willing to. But in the wake of the GOP’s midterm rout, the president and his aides have now apparently come to the conclusion that that’s what the American public wants — and even expects.
The stakes facing the two presidents are not really comparable. Clinton — in the midst of his first term — was trying to reorient his party by upending three decades of Democratic orthodoxies concerning the social compact, while Obama — nearing the end of his second — was simply trying to avoid the threat of another round of brinkmanship over a government shutdown by passing what — in a less rancorous era — would have been a routine spending bill.
I’ll quote a bit more of Purdum’s article in a moment, but we had to take a little aside together to take note of the way Purdum is framing the story as seen in that second graf. Clinton was trying to reorient his party for modern times (atta boy, Bill!) while Obama was trying to save the country from evil Republican brinksmanship — and never mind that half of the brinksmanship was coming from the Looney Tunes Wing of the Democratic Party.
So with that in mind, onward:
This president bent on Democratic priorities — allowing the weakening of a key provision of the financial reform bill he himself fought so hard to pass, and a big increase in individual contribution limits to political parties and their congressional campaign committees — to stave off even more unpalatable elements: cuts to Obamacare, or retribution for his recent executive actions on immigration. From the administration’s perspective, accepting this bill — warts and all — was better than risking an immediate shutdown or a 90-day continuing budget resolution that would have to be relitigated in the far more unstable circumstances of a larger House GOP majority and a Republican Senate.
Obama’s presumed intention is to live to fight another day. And if he has any hope of avoiding complete marginalization in his last two years in office, that’s just what he’ll have to do — if only by using his veto pen — in the new year.
Before we get to my question, let’s go to Ed Morrissey’s take over at Hot Air:
It’s not as complicated as Purdum appears to think. The reasons why Obama never tried Clinton-style triangulation fall along two lines — different situations and fundamentally different politicians. Clinton was a people pleaser who sincerely wanted to govern. His political DNA derived from the Democratic Leadership Council, which expressly wanted the so-called Third Way to create a path between Left and Right, and then claim it for the Democratic Party. Clinton succeeded at that, but it didn’t last past his own presidency, thanks to Al Gore’s seeming repudiation of Clinton in 2000 in favor of a lean to the Left again.
Democrats still claim to represent the center, but that hasn’t been true for years.
Now, at long last for my question: Triangulate with whom?