In February 2008, on behalf of Hillary Clinton and her not-yet-doomed campaign, I wrote:
After 9/11, George W. Bush put the country on a permanent war footing and created a new role for himself — The Decider. In so doing, he revitalized his presidency and greatly expanded and solidified his political base. His core supporters now saw little difference between Osama bin Laden and Harry Reid. They both were enemies of the president and needed to be defeated by any means necessary. In this domestic war, confrontation was both unavoidable and to be welcomed. Bush’s base demanded it, and he was happy to oblige. It was the source of his power.
In the wreckage of the Bush presidency, Barack Obama has chosen a different means of obtaining power. He would end the political wars and declare himself a Uniter. In this role, confrontation is his enemy and must be avoided. (This does not apply in Obama’s current struggle with Hillary Clinton, because she is seen as a Divider. She and her supporters just don’t get it. Once they are disposed of, Obama can begin bringing us together.)
President Obama will be under tremendous pressure from his base to fulfill his role as a Uniter. They trust him to worry about the details and are unlikely to push him in any particular direction. On policy, Obama’s path of least resistance will be to the right. Confrontation will sap his power. (The mainstream media will provide an additional check on Obama’s liberal impulses. For them, Republican rule is the natural order of things. Democrats must be bipartisan.)
Premeditated capitulation will likely be the legislative strategy of Obama’s administration. This helps account for his disturbing language on health care and Social Security.
Has Obama’s health care strategy been “premeditated capitulation”? I don’t know. But he sure hasn’t been leading. We’ve heard more substance from Kent Conrad and Chuck Grassley.
I didn’t vote for Barack Obama — I didn’t vote for anybody — but I’ve come to like him. It saddens me that he’s allowed the bad guys to get the upper hand.
Maybe things will change next Wednesday night. They’d better.