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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Act 2: Meltdown or Reinvention

Let's call tomorrow July 24th, 2009 act two of the Obama presidency. That's because today it became official that health care reform won't pass in its current form. With the end of liberal heath care reform, let's call this the official end of the liberal Obama presidency. Now, the president has one of two paths to go moving forward. He can either insist on moving forward with his liberal agenda and turn his presidency into a joke, or he can reinvent himself.

The president's poll numbers are falling precipitously. Furthermore, each and every one of his major policy initiatives poll even worse. Health care, in its current form, will NOT pass. If the president insists on moving forward with it in this form, then the rest of his agenda will fall apart with it. Cap and trade won't be looked at for several more months. That is about as popular as health care reform. Congress men and women will go home over August and they will speak to constituents. You can bet they will get first hand knowledge of just how much the public dislikes the entire Obama agenda. In fact, here is one example of Missouri Democrat Russ Carnahan.

Now, the example that President Obama should follow is Bill Clinton. Clinton similarly suffered a major defeat in 1993 on health care. That lead to a massive electoral defeat in 1994. Then, Bill Clinton reinvented himself as a moderate. He passed a capital gains tax cut, welfare reform, balanced the budget and enjoyed huge popularity for the rest of his presidency.

President Obama needs to realize, sooner better than later for his sake, that his liberal presidency is over. If he continues to insist on a liberal agenda, it will get rejected. Then, in November 2010, he will have a nearly two trillion dollar deficit, ten percent unemployment, and no major legislative accomplishments heading into the mid term elections. Then, the Republicans will sweep the elections and he will have no choice but to govern as a moderate anyway.

If the president is a shrewd politician, he will come back from the August recess and get together with Blue Dogs and Republicans and pass sweeping MODERATE health care reform. With that legislative victory, he can regain his presidency. I have called the Blue Dogs the Congressional rainmakers. That's what President Obama needs to realize sooner rather than later if he wants his presidency to be compared with that of FDR and not Jimmy Carter. The president isn't going to pass anything without their approval. That isn't going to happen with a liberal agenda. The road to a successful Obama presidency is still clear and that road is moderation. The only question is whether or not the president will reinvent himself.


Anonymous said...

Ok, so first you were saying Obama's reached his Waterloo, now you're saying he's already lost? And all in one day?

mike volpe said...

no, earlier I said he needed to moderate health care policy and now I said that his liberal presidency is over. That's actually the same. I didn't say that Obama has lost. I said his liberal agenda has lost.

Anonymous said...

In what respect is there a difference? The only thing Obama's base and his critics on the far-right (you know, the people who think he's an aspiring Communist Dictator with no birth certificate) agree upon is that he saw his election as a mandate to govern as a liberal.

I think Obama needs to seriously consider the possibility that he can get his public option if he simply waits for 2010 to give him a more liberal Senate. There's a good chance the Democrats can take New Hampshire, Ohio, and Missouri. Plus, beating Gilibrand and Specter in their primaries, while tough, isn't impossible. Illinois is much safer now that Burris is out once and for all. You said yourself Mark Kirk is going to have a hard time rallying Republicans after voting for Cap and Trade.

As far as the House, if Obama goes into 2010 empty-handed, it will be the Blue Dogs who end up falling victim to the narrative that the Democrats are a failure, not the liberal Democrats in D+30 districts. The Democrats might have a smaller majority, but it would probably include fewer Blue Dogs, maybe even some of the ones holding things up in the Energy and Commerce Committee. Its possible that when Pelosi said she had the votes to pass a public option, she meant she had gotten to some of the other Blue Dogs who weren't on the E&C Committee.

But in the end, as I'm sure you are aware, Obama is first and foremost a product of Identity Politics. And if the way he let cap and trade get watered down is any indication, he will sacrifice his public option just to say he passed health care reform.

So yeah, I do think Obama will probably "reinvent" his presidency. The only question is whether his party wiil follow him rightward to their own oblivion like they did for Clinton.

mike volpe said...

There was no mandate to govern as a liberal. Obama presented himself as a moderate not a liberal. You are out of your mind if you think that he gets nothing passed, has massive deficit, and double digit unemployment and makes the legislature more liberal. Where do you get your whacky political perspective?