Monday, November 8, 2010

Centering Prayer

Can Obama be the new Clinton? The Lexington blog at "The Economist" isn't sure:

As to whether President Obama can pull off the same trick, there is as yet simply no way of knowing. But just note the differences. The Republican speaker this time is going to be the cautious and experienced John Boehner, not the fiery and impetuous Newt. That could make compromise easier, but it will also be harder for the Obama White House to out-manouevre the other side. Second, the Republicans in 1994 had a worked-out strategy, the Contract with America, from which Clinton could cherry-pick; this time they have only the broad slogan of spending cuts. Third, in 1994 the Clintons had watched their health reform go down in flames; this time the president has enacted his big reform already and will certainly do his utmost to defend it from repeal.

Last is the question of presidential beliefs and temper. As the proud author of health reform, what Joe Biden memorably called that "", it is going to very much harder for Mr Obama to rebrand himself as a plausible centrist, even if he would like to. And moving to the centre has dangers: it could further alienate his disappointed base and perhaps prompt a presidential challenge from the Democrats' left.

I think the only impediments are the president's inexperience and his inflexible temperament. So I don't buy the plausibility argument, especially because Clinton came off as more of a leftist in 1993-94 than did Obama in his first two years. (I'm talking, of course, about the real Obama, not the fictional one portrayed on Fox News.)

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