Silly Question of the Day: do you ever expect President Barack Obama to have an affair with a beret-wearing intern?
In a fake victory for “civility” it’s a safe wager that both Right and Left can agree that the answer to this question is “no.”
Why is that? Because Obama and Bill Clinton are fundamentally different in who they are as people and political actors. They have different philosophies, personalities, and objectives.
Apparently Dick Morris missed the memo on this.
For the past three years, the left and Obama have been indistinguishable, joined at the hip in a marriage of ideology and, where that failed, of convenience. Now the marriage is on the rocks and some see a divorce in the offing.
Obama strayed from the confrontational rhetoric of the left in his post-Tucson speech last week. While the likes of Paul Krugman and left wing bloggers were hyping the theme that Sarah Palin’s and the Tea Party activists’ rhetoric inflamed people sufficiently to bring out the worst leading — albeit indirectly — to the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Will he be able to triangulate? Can he win in 2012 by moving to the center? A president always has the option of correcting his mistakes, reversing his positions, and governing the country by moving it in the right direct. And those kinds of presidents — like Bill Clinton — usually get themselves re-elected.
But it won’t be easy. The Republicans are going to confront him with challenge after challenge. To keep his centrist positioning, he is going to have to do more than give good speeches. He will have to change his programs and his policies.
The first big challenge will come next month when we reach the debt limit and need more borrowing authority. Then the Republicans in the House will insist on huge cuts in spending before approving additional borrowing. How will Obama respond? Will he let the House roll back his stimulus spending to pre-2008 levels? Probably not. Will he abandon Obamacare? Likely not. Will his move to the center succeed? Likely not. But, he just might make these kinds of concessions. And then it can succeed.
From Stanley Kurtz’s Radical-In-Chief we know pretty definitively who Obama is and how he thinks. (See my review here.) For his entire career Obama has been embedded within the stealth-socialist, community-organizing, Saul Alinsky Left. His primary reason for being President is to plant as many seeds as possible to further expand the federal government’s power.
This is a very different background and ideology from Clinton. I don’t even like to call Clinton a leftist. To do that would suggest that as a political animal the man has some kind of overriding ideological agenda, or a set of political principles. He doesn’t. Bill Clinton’s ideology is Bill Clinton. Whatever’s going to be best for Bill Clinton at any given time is what he’s going to do. That’s why he adopted the Republicans’ more popular, better agenda in the second half of his presidency.
“Triangulate” has a very different meaning from Obama to Clinton. Clinton-style triangulation means actually taking good policies from the Right and ignoring the will of his leftist base. Obama-style triangulation is straight out of the Alinsky-school and comes in two forms we’ve already seen. First, the use of “post-ideological” rhetoric and the use of a “good cop” persona while his attack dogs in the Daily Kos/Media Matters Hate Left do the dirty work. Second, a greater ideological flexibility on the secondary issues he doesn’t really care much about (social issues and foreign policy.)
As the road to the 2012 election begins it’s vital that conservatives avoid the temptation to embrace what they want to be true instead of the harder, more disturbing reality of what is true. Barack Obama is not a squishy Clinton Democrat who’s just going to pursue policies that what will make him popular. He’s a hard leftist ideologue only wearing the sheepskin of moderation and quietly implementing an economic agenda that will be disastrous for our country in the long run.