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What bipartisan measure of such import can Obama point to?
Put another way, there is much in President Clinton’s pre-1994 history that indicated governance from the center. Barack Obama, on the other hand, has been thoroughly marinated in the culture of the Left.
The child of, in Obama’s words, “a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position paper liberalism,” the future president weaned himself on dorm-room discussions of “neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy.” He worked for Ralph Nader’s NYPIRG and later as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago. His constituents during his sojourn in the Illinois state senate were poor blacks and affluent white academics, enabling him to take the most extreme positions without fear of electoral repercussions. Surrounding himself in adulthood with such extremists as Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Barack Obama could no more be Bill Clinton than Bill Clinton could be Barack Obama.
The most glaring sign that the president’s post-election positioning is not genuine has been his propensity to circumvent the legislative process. Quietly slipping end-of-life counseling, the so-called “death panels” excised from the health-care legislation, into the Federal Register suggested Obama’s post-’10 approach. So, too, did the Environmental Protection Agency’s imposition of new carbon limits despite the similar cap-and-trade bill getting nowhere in a Democratic Congress. Ditto for the Federal Communications Commission’s “net neutrality” empowering itself to regulate the internet despite Congressmen of both parties warning the FCC of the illegality of such a heavy-handed usurpation by the unelected body.
As egg-on-their-face pundits learned after trying to cast the Tucson tragedy as the Oklahoma City Bombing redux, facts don’t always cooperate with the narrative. Though 2010 may have been 1994 all over again, Obama isn’t the new Clinton. Events alone don’t preordain the future. Actors matter too. The reactions of very different men to very similar events will necessarily vary.
Bill Clinton worked with Republicans after 1994. Barack Obama will work around Republicans after 2010.
Daniel J. Flynn is the author of A Conservative History of the American Left (Crown Forum, 2008), Intellectual Morons (Crown Forum, 2004), and Why the Left Hates America (Prima Forum, 2002). He has appeared on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, Sky News, PBS, CSPAN, and other broadcast networks. His articles have appeared in National Review, the Boston Globe, and City Journal. He blogs at www.flynnfiles.com.
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