Obama Takes on His Own Party

Why the president is about to become a nightmare for Democrats.

obama-pursed-lipsThe theme of Obama’s last campaign was “Forward.” Having thoroughly alienated Republicans in Congress, he is boldly moving forward on his final mission of also alienating the Democrats.

It’s no secret that Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, now loathes Obama. But the conflict between Senate Democrats and Obama is approaching explosive temperatures. Senator Menendez accused Obama of parroting talking points out of Tehran as the Senate approaches a sanctions vote.

Obama has threatened to veto bills on Iran and Keystone, along with others, leading to a showdown in which Democrats will have to choose between Obama and electability. The last time Democrats chose wrongly they lost the Senate. Many of the survivors aren’t looking forward to another round of getting stomped on by an angry middle class tired of a thoughtless celebrity administration and its abuses.

And the White House is treating them like yesterday’s garbage.

“Party loyalty isn't worth what it used to be. He's going to steamroll them,” a White House aide warned Senate Democrats.

Party loyalty never existed for the career leftists running the White House. Obama never had any allegiance to the Democratic Party. The donkey was just a convenient ride to the top until it dropped dead in 2014.

To the extent that Obama has any allegiances, it’s to his fellow leftist progressives in Congress. The (D) itself means less than nothing to him. Now that he has no Senate majority to protect, Obama feels liberated from having to even pretend to be interested in compromise and moderation.

Obama no longer needs to bother with the Democrats. He has become a one-man party.

His triumphant State of the Union address completely ignored his loss of support. It was a dictator’s celebration of his own unilateral rule. He is finally free, in the words of his aides, to be the president he always wanted to be. And his ideal presidency has a distinct banana republic flavor.

Second term lame ducks usually think about their legacy and try to iron out a positive departure. Instead Obama is burning all his bridges. He’s using and abusing all the power he has and all the power he can grab while he still has the chance.

The presidency hasn’t aged Obama the way it did Reagan, Clinton and Bush. Obama has remained untouched by any sense of responsibility or regret. The White House is his because he is just that awesome. The lies can go on forever because that is how life has always worked for him. Bill Clinton had little self-doubt, but Obama’s complete lack of self-doubt makes Bill seem downright neurotic.

Obama has been a nightmare for the Republican Party. He is about to become a nightmare for the Democrats who want a smooth transition to the Hillary era, instead of an acrimonious power struggle.

Instead of passing the torch, Obama is going to be using it to burn down his own party. A political party needs to reinvent itself after an unpopular two-termer. Obama has made it clear that he will not give the Democrats the breathing room to do that. Instead he’s taking them down with him by offering them the same polarizing choice that he gave Republicans. It’s Obama’s way or the executive order highway.

The outcome of that choice will force a split between moderates Democrats and leftists. It will mean a premature civil war within the party between donors, activists and politicians that will alienate voters.

Hillary Clinton has the most to lose from a Democratic civil war because it makes it impossible for her to straddle the party divide as she has tried to do in the past. Her team and her alignment are just as split as the party which will force her to either distance herself even further from current politics, something she has already done to a surreal degree by refusing to comment on major issues, or pick a side.

She will have to choose between alienating the wealthy progressives who fund the party and provide its activist manpower or the rural and suburban working class and middle class whites who left the party over Obama’s war on their wallets and values. She will have to choose between Bill and Barack.

Considering the weight of active donors and activist power on the left, as well as the threat of a Warrenite challenge from the left, Hillary will be forced to move to the left. She has already begun clumsily echoing the Warren and Obama brand of class warfare rhetoric. And that will make it harder for her to win over middle class voters disenchanted with Obama’s community organizer politics.

Obama’s final revenge on the Clintons is meant to be an ideological one that forces them to abandon their triangulation and fake centrism. If Hillary manages to win by running to the left or is beaten by a challenger running to the left, the party will have shifted its center even further to the left. But if Hillary runs to the left and loses, then Obama will have inflicted a severe blow on his party and on the left.

And it seems likely that this radical suicide bomber act will be his real legacy.

Democrats saw JFK in Obama. But instead of an enduring icon, Obama is going out as a cautionary tale. His choice of pursuing a radical program instead of reaching out to the other side has left him with policy wins, but a poisonous legacy as a widely disliked politician. Instead of JFK, Obama became LBJ. But unlike LBJ, he lacked the ability to work even within his own party, pursuing a radical agenda at all costs.

Americans will not look back fondly on the Obama years. They will be remembered as times of turmoil and strife. A time of street riots, unemployment, angry rhetoric and few accomplishments. A time when Americans did not find hope and change, but instead lost their hope and confidence in the future.

In his last years, Obama wants to turn his radical term into the political mold, but it is likelier that he will have become an example to avoid. The JFK model of the bright charismatic young politician has already been replaced by the safer Hillary model of an old cautious political hack with deep party ties.

Obama’s confrontation with his own party will only ensure the triumph of the party hack. In true leftist fashion, he will have destroyed the legacy he hoped to achieve.

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