By his own admission, Obama is poised for a mid-course correction.
I don’t recall whether Clinton announced a mid-course correction, but I know he performed one. What’s more, he actually had a previous track record of working with Republicans rather than being at war with them while pretending to court them, and of being a moderate prior to his presidency rather than just rhetoric to that effect.
But this is Barack Obama speaking, not Bill Clinton. Obama’s moderation and bipartisanship on the domestic front have been all rhetoric, no action—and what’s more, his action has been the opposite of his rhetoric. So everything he says should be taken as potentially meaning its opposite.
What he may be saying is merely this: I know I must pretend to be changing my ways because the people hate what I’ve been doing, and I’m up for re-election in 2012. So I’ll use my silver tongue to say I’ll change, and hope I won’t have to actually do anything (there’s that “hope and change” thing; it worked before). The people are stupid and gullible, and all I’ve done wrong so far anyway is to fail to sell myself better.”
That’s one possibility. Another is that Obama actually will move towards the middle, in deed as in word. But it will be a temporary feint, a move made to convince doubters that he’s gotten the message and changed his ways.
It need only be until the next election. If Obama can moderate himself enough to be able to point to a few small but real compromises with the Republicans, he won’t be losing much and he’ll be gaining a lot. The American people are a generally genial and forgiving (not to say trusting) lot, predisposed to like him, and by then he may indeed have rehabilitated himself in the eyes of enough voters that he will win his bid for re-election and even increase the Democrats’ Congressional representation.
And then, and then—voila! Four more years! Four years in which he won’t have to answer to the electorate at all. He will be unleashed to do whatever it is he really wants. And does anyone think that would look moderate at all?