Obama also has wrecked havoc in the the Democratic Party. He's firmly affixed the "tax and spend" label to it after Bill Clinton declared that the era of big government was over. He's made Clinton into a pitch man for Mitt Romney. His rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline has split the party. His refusal to adopt the Simpson-Bowles commission's recommendations has turned Democrats into reactionaries, defending the status quo on entitlements. He's alienated Jewish voters. He's re-McGovernized the party, which now stands for appeasing despotic powers, turning on allies and slashing defense spending.
As Ross Douthat wrote, "House Republicans have spent the past two years taking tough votes on entitlement reform, preparing themselves for an ambitious offensive should 2012 deliver the opportunity to cast those same votes and have them count. The Senate Democrats, on the other hand, have failed to even pass a budget: There is no Democratic equivalent of Paul Ryan's fiscal blueprint, no Democratic plan to swallow hard and raise middle class taxes the way Republicans look poised to swallow hard and overhaul Medicare. Indeed, there's no liberal agenda to speak of at the moment, beyond a resounding 'No!' to whatever conservatism intends to do."
Not even Jimmy Carter did this much, I would suggest, to jerk his party to the left and hobble its electoral prospects. No wonder Clinton is on a rampage.
Obama hasn't so much harmed the Democratic party by jerking it leftward as much as he has failed to justify the ideologicial shift in any rational or meaningful way. For all his supposed speech making abilities, the president hasn't convinced too many people that Obamacare is good, his regulating the financial industry makes sense, and especially that his EPA is going to save the planet by outlawing carbon dioxide.
People might have accepted a lot of what Obama has proposed in the context of the financial crisis. But in the end, his policies failed to resonate because they not only didn't work, but didn't make any sense either.
Hat Tip: Ed Lasky