Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I haven't read the profile of Barack Obama that will appear in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday, but the preview posted on the Times Caucus blog reveals (or reaffirms) the disturbing fact that the president is a slow political learner:

In an hour-long interview with the Times's White House correspondent, Peter Baker, Mr. Obama predicted that his political rivals would either be chastened by falling short of their electoral goals or burdened with the new responsibility that comes from achieving them.

"It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible, either because they didn't do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn't work for them," Mr. Obama said. "Or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way."

That's right -- now they'll see reason!

Oh, please.

Look, I'm assuming the Republicans will take the House, but not the Senate. And, yes, the public will hope for cooperation.

But Republicans are just going to announce that nothing short of their already declared radical agenda is acceptable, to them or to the American people. And so House Republicans are going to pass uncompromising bills that will either die in the Senate or (with Blue Dog help) be passed there and then be vetoed by the president.

And then he's the obstructionist. He's a one-man Party of No. Republicans will still be held blameless by the American people, because, well, Obama's the president, so if anything's wrong in America, it must be his fault. Even a GOP government shutdown will be his fault, for failing to work with Republicans, who, we'll be told over and over again, have a "mandate" to drastically reverse course. (All the compromising Obama will actually do will be disregarded, of course.)

And if Republicans fail to win either house? They'll still come close in both, and make significant gains, so they'll say they really represent the people's will, even though objective election results say otherwise. (Of course, those results can be blamed on sleazy union/Black Panther/zombie-ACORN skulduggery.) And the self-hating non-heartlanders in the mainstream press will accept that notion uncritically, because it will seem obvious to them that real Americans turned on Obama and the Democrats.

Either way, it's just going to be a warmup for 2012, which is when, Republican will assure us, they can finally get America to the Promised Land. They'll evade responsibility by declaring early on that they don't have the numbers to stop the Obama juggernaut -- yet -- but can do no more than throw sand in the gears. They'll make gear-sanding seem heroic.

If Obama doesn't understand that Republicans are going to play it this way, he clearly hasn't been paying attention. Or he's in denial.

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