Charles Krauthammer seems to think that the legislative achievements of the last couple of weeks—the tax “cut”[sic] deal , the repeal of DADT, and the approval of START—have changed Obama’s fortunes with the American public, and that the playing field has been leveled between him and the new Congress.
I think that that the voters are fickle, but not that fickle; they may have short memories, but not that short. Nor (unlike pundits such as Krauthammer or obsessive-compulsive bloggers) are most of them paying the sort of close attention that would make such things matter. The biggees of the economy and high unemployment rate, as well as Obamacare, have hit the public where it hurts and remain to be resolved.
It certainly could end up that Obama’s star rises significantly and stays risen, and that he’s re-elected in 2012. The latter especially depends on who the Republicans manage to nominate to oppose him. But the outcome will depend on much more than the last couple of weeks.
I’m a bit puzzled as to why the extension of the tax policies of the Bush administration, against the oft-stated desires of President Obama, is seen as a victory for him rather than a victory for Republicans in Congress and an Obama capitulation. Perhaps it’s merely because it makes Obama seem more centrist.
As for that Republican Congress, although I’ve expressed my own wariness about their present and future actions, I’m also puzzled by the many comments around the blogosphere and in the press to the effect of “they’ve just been elected in a big landslide, and see how quickly they fold!” I would like to remind everyone that all this legislation was passed by the old Congress, not the new.