How Does a Leftist Govern America?

Among the many poll figures to rock the Obama team in the last week or so, none may be as telling or as significant as this from Rasmussen:

Seventy-six percent (76%) of U.S. voters now think President Obama is at least somewhat liberal. Forty-eight percent (48%) say he is very liberal, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. This marks the highest finding to date on the question and is a five-point increase in the number who say the president is very liberal from a month ago. ... Seventeen percent (17%) of voters say the president is moderate, while only six percent (6%) believe he is conservative.

This was not the image that enabled Obama to win the presidency. Last year he beat John McCain by somehow convincing the public that he was the moderate, the fiscally prudent one, and the voice of “pragmatism” -- that catchphrase meant to assure voters the candidate is not an ideologically crazed extremist.

It was a good thing Obama ran that way. Exit polling showed that the electorate self-identified as 44% moderate, 34% conservative, and 22% liberal. Obama was right to recognize that the public simply wouldn’t have embraced an ultra-liberal planning a huge spending spree, a government takeover of health care and a massive energy tax and regulatory scheme. In other words, if voters knew what they know now they might not have put him in the White House.

And that is the fundamental problem which Obama now faces. Just as he possessed the most liberal voting record in the Senate (populated by some awfully liberal senators), he has chosen to govern farther to the left than any president since LBJ. So it is not surprising that the public is reeling and registering their disapproval in poll after poll.

The Obama team, which more so than most new administrations was convinced of their own political omnipotence, must be stunned as they discover in their march leftward that the public remains far behind -- and to the right. Indeed, in what can be seen as an act of political contrariness, the public is getting more conservative as the Obama presidency unfolds.

The tension is palpable between where Obama wants to govern and where the voters are. Obama keeps insisting on legislation -- nationalized health care being the most obvious -- which the public really doesn’t want or need. Like an aluminum siding salesman, he keeps hawking expensive junk, and like a wary homeowner, the public would rather he get out of their living rooms.