Obama’s Pivot-able Moment?

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


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The jury is still out, but there are indications that Barack Obama is gritting his teeth and doing what many conservatives believed he could never bring himself to do: executing a Clintonesque pivot toward the center. Many on the right doubt the conviction of Obama’s apparent conversion, but even among those who believe that the president is indeed veering away from his cherished far-left path there is a stark difference of opinion on what that might mean. One school of thought maintains that the nation will be spared the worst consequences of implementing even more leftist policies and Obama’s pivot is therefore necessary and welcomed. Another group of conservatives wishes that the president would stubbornly stick to his leftist course and thus drive the nation “out of the ditch” and over a cliff, thereby proving in no uncertain terms how dangerous and disconnected the progressive movement is.

Few issues so united the left in their conviction that George W. Bush was a lackey of the rich and powerful than Bush’s tax cuts. For years, progressives have blamed our current economic woes on those cuts and the president himself embraced the theory. And yet, in the wake of a devastating rejection of his party last month, Obama now not only wants to extend the Bush tax cuts, his chief economic advisor says that it’s vital to do so, unless we want to risk a “double-dip” recession. Sure, the president has dutifully tried to distance himself from that portion of the tax deal that involves “the rich,” but at the end of the day Obama protesteth too much. If the president truly believes that increasing tax rates on job creators would be beneficial to the nation and its economic health, there is no way that he would have gone along with this deal. Obama is trying to have it both ways: supporting the policies that he knows – that everyone knows – represent the shortest path to recovery, even as he tries to assure his far-leftist base that he has little choice in the matter.

The Senate signaled its willingness to go along with the deal, voting 83 to 15 to move the tax bill along in the legislative process. Almost every Senator who approved the measure expressed reservations about particular provisions, but both Democrats and Republicans in the upper chamber believe it’s better to pass a flawed bill than to let tax rates rise. The outcome is less certain in the House, though Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said he was confident it would pass, if there is some increase in the estate tax. That could prove to be a sticking point, since Republican Senators maintain they will not compromise on the issue if the House passes a modified version of the bill. For his part, the President sounded almost happy after the crucial Senate vote. “I am pleased to announce at this hour the United States Senate is moving forward on a package of tax cuts that has strong bipartisan support,” he said. “And this proves that both parties can in fact work together to grow our economy and look out for the American people.” What a difference an election makes. The “party of no” has now become half of the bipartisan formula Obama said he wanted to employ to bring America together. Perhaps one can do business with hostage-takers after all? Though it’s not certain that Obama will continue along the path to the middle, his willingness to work with his political enemies on this issue is at least a step in the right direction.

Obama’s hawkish stance on the war in Afghanistan is even more revealing. Nine years after U.S boots first hit the ground in Afghanistan to help the Northern Alliance oust the Taliban, war weariness in America has clearly set in. A Quinnipiac poll in November showed overall support for the U.S. mission in Afghanistan in negative territory for the first time, with 44 percent of the public supporting the U.S. role, and 50 percent opposing it. Nonetheless, in a recent surprise visit with troops serving on the front line, Obama spoke of taking the fight to the enemy, rather than defensively reacting to our opponents’ desires. “We said we were going to break the Taliban’s momentum,” Obama told the troops. “And that’s what you’re doing. You’re going on the offense, tired of playing defense, targeting their leaders, pushing them out of their strongholds.”

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  • ObamaYoMoma

    They can express all the reservations they want, but any Republicans that make the mistake of supporting this monstrosity is supporting with a wink and nod the good ole boy network and the continued business as usual in Washington DC that has led to our current economic situation. Those RINOs need to be targeted and ousted out of office, as they are in reality stealth progressives that are still infesting what is the leftwing hijacked Republican Party.

    If anyone believes that extending the tax cuts for the job creators for just two years will erase the uncertainty that is needed to spark economic growth, then I have a bridge I need to sell you. If a two-year extension is the best they can do, especially when they are holding all the cards, then they are far too weak and incompetent to be in Congress.

  • davarino

    The repubs need to stop being the nice guys. Why do they need to let the president save face. Start taking these clowns apart. Kick them while they are down and destroy them once and for a couple of voting cycles till they come back like the zombies they are.

  • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks

    THE MORE PERFECT UNION UP IN SMOKE. OR, DOES OBAMA WANT TO CALL IT QUITS?

    Obama using the sick and tired pragmatic centrist Bill Clinton to make his case for maintaining Bush's tax rates for the rich is an admission of failed leadership and ideological exhaustion. Dick Morris is right: Obama's compromise wasn't a Clintonesque triangulation with the GOP "but capitulation and surrender to them." After two failed years as President and the shellacking on Election Day Obama is now a nowhere man: a lost soul in spiritual turmoil and ideological crisis who no longer knows who he is and why he is President. With his dream of "a more perfect union" in a more peaceful world up in smoke, and unable to handle the growing burdens of office, the White House for Obama is becoming a virtual hell house……

    Click my name to continue reading this piece in its entirety

    • Chezwick_Mac

      I don't think Obama is suffering an "ideological crises". He still believes in all the same things. He's just constricted now in his ability to further his agenda. He'll compromise out of necessity, but it won't for a moment imply a change of heart (or of world-view).

  • http://qwest.com Steve Chavez

    MICHELLE can't be kept waiting during such an important issue where a former President was summoned for advice? And Joe thought he was Vice President!

  • USMCSniper

    Whenever I see the Clinton, I think of Ross Perot, who in 1992 said: "I wouldn't hire Bill Clinton as an assistant dishwasher on the third shift in a greasy spoon joint in the worst part of town." but manage to take 23% of the vote (away from Bush) so instead of going back to Arkansas we got 8 years of this pervert creep and his post menopausal hag wife and we got the Somolia cut and run with Osama bin Laden, the phoney Bosnian war, the1993 attacks on the World Trade Center, the 1995 and 1996 bombings in Saudi Arabia, the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, false intelligence on WMDs in Iraq, and the 9/11 terrorism because all the pilot training, planning and setup was done on his watch.

    • http://qwest.com Steve Chavez

      I also wonder "what if" Bush had won. I surely think we wouldn't be in the trouble we are in today if he had won. The world saw action, and a look at U.S. power, during the Gulf War but they also saw resolve and the Big Stick in action! How could you forget Monica? The Clinton's wanted to "Give Peace a Chance" and their inaction when it counted the most, erased all that Bush had built up. The other thing is the Bush's picked seasoned professionals to fill their posts unlike Bill and BHO who picked their close friends who had and have no experience. During their terms, American Communists/Socialists/Liberals infiltrated all levels of government. This "Blame and Hate America" crowd have sympathies will every one of our enemies! This is the real frontlines of every war!

  • http://qwest.com Steve Chavez

    I'M TIRED OF WRITING COMMENTS ONLY TO BE "MUST BE APPROVED" WHICH THEY NEVER ARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'M NOT A FANATIC THAT SPEWS CRAP!!!!!!!!!!

  • sebyandrew

    SPAMMER