As Pete aptly described, the Left is in a tizzy. Angry at their floundering idol, they are increasingly aware they have gotten precious little from their wish list. That rage is directed now at both the public and the president, who is getting more and more push back from previously loyal congressional leaders.
Now, in the hands of a skilled politician, this might actually be an opportunity. Having strayed so far Left, Obama now can separate himself, “triangulate,” as Bill Clinton put it, to demonstrate that he really is the model of moderation and sobriety. He might call out the excesses on his own side, both rhetorical and substantive, to reconnect with the Center-Right coalition. But oddly, Obama seems incapable or unwilling to do just that.
Obama is doggedly pursuing health care — the same plan that the public has rejected overwhelmingly. He proposed an extraordinarily irresponsible budget. In short, he is not making an effort to separate himself from those extreme voices in the party who are now quite angry at him. We therefore see the remarkable situation in which independents are alienated, conservatives are enraged, and liberals are aggrieved. It’s hard in politics to please everyone, but it takes a certain talent to displease everyone. Yet Obama has managed to do so. How did that happen?
This, I think, has resulted from the collision of extreme ideology, grand ambition, and plain old incompetence. The Center-Right sees what Obama wants to do (pass a government takeover of health care, regulate carbon emissions, grow the size of government, raise taxes) and is frightened. The Left sees what Obama has done (practically nothing) and is frustrated, if not apoplectic. The Left wants him to be more effective in his extremism (and theirs) but that will further enrage the already motivated Center-Right.
It is quite a dilemma. Moreover, it is a reminder that electing someone very new to the national stage is quite a gamble. Unfortunately, it hasn’t paid off for his supporters. And we all must live with the consequences.