Obama knows he has only so many years to change the country. In his first two, he achieved much: the first stimulus, Obamacare and financial regulation. For the next two, however, the Republican House will prevent any repetition of that. Obama’s agenda will therefore have to be advanced by the more subterranean means of rule-by-regulation.
But this must simultaneously be mixed with ostentatious displays of legislative bipartisanship (e.g., the lame-duck tax-cut deal) in order to pull off the (apparent) centrist repositioning required for reelection. This, in turn, would grant Obama four more years when, freed from the need for pretense, he can reassert himself ideologically and complete the social-democratic transformation – begun Jan. 20, 2009; derailed Nov. 2, 2010 – that is the mission of his presidency.
And here I am, on November 7, right after the election:
[A possibility for the next two years] 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?