Remember all the hoopla right before Christmas with the usual media suspects cheering the "new Obama" who had miraculously recovered from the election "shellacking" and was well on his way to reinventing his Administration by moving to the center?
Most of that hype was generated on the basis of the passage of the tax deal which extended the Bush era tax rates. A deal which Obama himself proclaimed he loathed. And of course there was an equal amount of hype about the "success" of the lame duck congress which only partially succeeded in doing more of the corrupt, idiotic things that the American people so soundly rejected just weeks ago.
Now, Obama is out there in his weekly radio address lecturing the new incoming GOP Congress on the "shared responsibility" they have to work with Democrats in 2011. Obama goes on to say he's "willing to work with anyone of either party who's got a good idea." This is the exact same language he's used so often before, including during the health care debate while his party excluded every GOP idea forcing votes along purely party lines to enact their hard left agenda.
When You Can't Legislate to the Left, Regulate to the Left!
And isn't it odd that a President who claims he wants to work with the other party is so busy forcing through bitterly contentious and divisive federal regulations designed to roil the political waters even before the new Congress takes it's seat? Regulatory actions on death panels, CO2 emissions, FCC's net neutrality and an environmental land grab in the West are all actions that no Congress, whether run by Democrats or Republicans would allow. But Obama is doing it anyway. Charles Krauthammer sums it up brilliantly as always:
Now as always, Obama's heart lies left. For those fooled into thinking otherwise by the new Obama of Dec. 22, his administration's defiantly liberal regulatory moves - on the environment, energy and health care - should disabuse even the most beguiled.In other words, Obama is attempting a huge head fake and hoping the American people won't notice as he talks center and rules left behind the scenes. So much for transparency. To succeed, Obama's strategy depends on fooling again most of the same people he hoodwinked in 2008 with his largely empty campaign of slogans and promises. But the American people have had two years to see just what kind of man Obama really is and I doubt enough will be so stupid to be fooled twice. Remember the words of Lincoln: "You can't fool all the people all the time."
These regulatory power plays make political sense. Because Obama needs to appear to reclaim the center, he will stage his more ideological fights in yawn-inducing regulatory hearings rather than in the dramatic spotlight of congressional debate. How better to impose a liberal agenda on a center-right nation than regulatory stealth?
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.
Of course it all depends on how well the incoming GOP Congress highlights these rather hidden and complex issues. But from every indication, they seem willing to take up the challenge with gusto. Recall the words of Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president!"