November 5, 2010
Mr. Obama Is No Bill ClintonBy Peter Heck
After Barack Obama's self-described shellacking at the polls last Tuesday, astute political observers began postulating and pontificating whether or not he would seek to moderate his agenda from the far-left lollapalooza he has been pursuing since inauguration day.
Without question, such a move would be a humbling experience for a man who chose to characterize his first two years in office by hubris and unparalleled condescension toward his conquered political adversaries.
After all, how does a man who -- as recently as two weeks ago -- told Republicans that "they can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back," and that they shouldn't "do a lot of talking" reach out a hand of bipartisanship when the tables turn as dramatically as they have?
How does he expect to maintain any shred of credibility when he proclaims that a Republican victory means the people want the two parties to "work together," given that two years ago he declared that a Democrat victory gave him license to lock Republicans out of policy-making and call all the shots?
How does he face a gavel-wielding John Boehner and expect cooperation when after winning the presidency, he boasted in Boehner's face that "elections have consequences and at the end of the day, I won"?
Attempting any of this would require eating so much crow that it would frighten even Alfred Hitchcock. Yet that was the move many political analysts felt was incumbent upon the president. They argued that he must emulate Bill Clinton and move to the center if he wants to accomplish anything and salvage his presidency.
But the president gave them less than 24 hours to discuss and debate his intentions before confirming what many of us already knew...Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.
Holding a press conference at the White House, Obama was asked whether he dismissed the notion that the election results were a rejection of his policies. His answer: yes.
More specifically, when pressed on the fate of his signature government health care takeover, Obama intoned, "We'd be misreading the election if we thought the American people want to see us for the next two years re-litigate arguments we had over the last two years."
It is tough to imagine a more incoherent conclusion. In the months preceding the midterm elections, polls consistently showed that support for the Republican Party was far from overwhelming. The electorate had warmed very little towards the party who had so recently betrayed their trust. So how did moderately popular Republicans deliver one of the most extraordinary congressional takeovers in history? Simply put, they ran a national campaign as the party that will reverse Obama's agenda, specifically repealing ObamaCare.
What is more, the number of Democrats who campaigned for reelection not just by distancing themselves from that policy, but by actually running against it was embarrassing. And those who didn't -- those who stood by their ObamaCare votes -- went down in flames.
Figuring out what the electorate was saying then is not rocket science. In fact, it's the same message the voters in Massachusetts had sent back in January when they elected a man to the Senate, Scott Brown, who campaigned as #41 (his election represented the 41st vote needed for Republicans to filibuster and stop ObamaCare in the first place). And it's the same message the public was sending when the largest grassroots political movement the country has seen for generations stormed congressional town hall meetings and marched on Washington, D.C. in an effort to prevent the health care takeover.
Yet then, as now, Barack Obama arrogantly ignored the electorate.
Call it stubbornness or foolishness, but this much is clear: the president is not changing course. He is, above all else, a radical ideologue committed to pursuing his left-wing agenda. He is convinced that if he lectures us long enough, we will begin to understand his brilliance and appreciate his greatness.
Not that any of this should surprise us. After all, it was Obama and the Democrats' fundamental misreading of the 2008 presidential election that actually brought us to this point to begin with. Rather than recognize his election for what it was -- a vote for symbolism (youth, energy, change, charisma, biracial diversity) over substance (not even his most ardent supporters could name a single Obama legislative accomplishment) -- they regarded it as a mandate for an unapologetic crusade of radical liberal progressivism.
The results of that misinterpretation are self-evident: an enraged electorate, disillusioned supporters, and devastation at the polls. Yet despite all this, Mr. Obama has signaled that he has no desire to take correction from the unwashed masses he has spent two years pretending he is above.
Unlike Bill Clinton, it appears that Barack Obama's pride will prevent him from changing course as the people have demanded. This most likely means that unlike Bill Clinton, he won't need to worry about writing a second inaugural address.