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A Week Until the State of the Union

When Barack Obama feels political pressure, he doesn’t go for conciliatory language. He becomes slashingly partisan, as he did, surprisingly, in his convention speech and as he did in announcing his push for health care. How he speaks on the hot-button issues that seem to have injured him badly — not only health care, but closing Gitmo, the New York trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the bizarre responses to Nidal Hasan and the Christmas Day near-mass-murder — will tell us something about his ability to adapt to real-world circumstances. Once again, I have to say, even if you oppose him, you have to hope that Obama hears this wake-up call. He is the president of the United States. He has done a great many foolish things, and has received immediate word that his foolishness is going to have parlous political consequences. This is really the moment that will tell us whether he can do more politically than get himself elected brilliantly.


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