Ed Driscoll

'The Grapes of Wrath Democrats'

“Obama struggles to keep Dems from killing tax cut,” Yahoo reports, with what Outside the Beltway dubs “the Headline of the Year.”

Not that he’s the best qualified man for the job, but both parties go to the culture war with with presidents they have. Or as Daniel Henninger writes at the Wall Street Journal, “Ghosts of the Democratic past—Hubert Humphrey, Al Smith—have been known as Happy Warriors. Barack Obama is a Class Warrior with every fiber of his being. And he isn’t happy.”

But then, when is he?

That Monday tax deal had to be the worst day of Barack Obama’s presidency. I’d be surprised if this most insouciant of presidents was able to sleep Monday after the statement he issued at the White House about the deal. That was no mere statement. It was a class warrior’s cry from the heart.

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But if an angry, let-me-be-clear Barack Obama just looked into the cameras and said he’s coming to get you in two years, what rational economic choice would you make? Spend the profit or gains 2011 might produce on new workers, or bury any new income in the backyard until the 2012 presidential clouds clear?

No matter how much economic bump Mr. Obama gets in 2011 from extending the Bush-era tax rates, the 2012 election will be fought over a deep national anxiety that he rightly identifies but misinterprets.

The 1936 Democrats argue that America can’t be strong again until what they identify as “2% of taxpayers” are dragged from their homes and punished. It’s a stirring tale that is irrelevant to the immediate needs of a United States that has to compete in a global economy of intense and volatile competition.

In such a high-stakes world, Barack Obama’s obsession with having it out over the tax tables is a vulnerability. His opponent in 2012 should run straight at it.

Dan Blatt of Gay Patriot asks, presumably rhetorically, “Is the president peevish in defeat?” But Timothy P. Carney of the Washington Examiner believes the left’s current temper tantrum, from both Obama and his supporters, will end long before then:

It’s not that the Left is servile, but that they know incrementalism works for them. Obama knows this, too. At his press conference, he referred to Social Security’s growth from a modest program at its birth. His message: Chill out; we liberals always win in the long run.

Green thinks compromise has short-term political costs, though. “President Obama’s lack of fight during his first two years left many of his own supporters uninspired to go out and vote in 2010,” Green theorizes. And the same thing could happen in 2012.

But listening to Obama, you don’t hear a “lack of fight.” In fact, he regularly sounds like a schoolyard bully. This week he said of Republicans that “tax cuts for the wealthy … seems to be their central economic doctrine.” This is just a class-warfare slur, considering Bush’s 2001 tax cuts actually made income taxes more progressive than they had been under Clinton.

But this is his style. He reamed out the “Wall Street fat cats.” He accused his health care critics of serving “those who stand to profit from the status quo.” Obama and his surrogates slimed Obamacare protestors as “manufactured mobs.”

To use a basketball metaphor, liberals want Obama to throw elbows, but the president prefers talking trash. As 2012 gets closer, count on his liberal critics to stop booing and rally behind the Democratic team.

Still though, with Obama having exposed himself repeatedly as a far left bully, the American people will definitely have one heck of a choice, not an echo, come 2012. The GOP just has to find the right candidate to thread the needle and survive what will be an endless assault from a reunified Obama and his political allies, including the MSM.

And that’s no small matter.