Following Tuesday's Massachusetts election, a former senior Carter Administration appointee I know -- a life-long Democrat who is black -- pronounced Obama "a failed Presidency." Surely, this is premature--his term has three years left. Yet there are disturbing signs.
Last year was wasted; Obamacare is dead; cap-and-trade (thank god) still-born. The President's speechwriter likely had to bin his first 42 drafts of the State of the Union speech, which is now being re-written to talk about what the President's gonna do, as opposed to what he's accomplished. Obama still has the Executive branch, plus overwhelming (if not veto-proof) support in Congress. But where to go from here?
In one sense, the answer is obvious: triangulate. That is, move toward the center, and push policies in concert with Republicans that are likely to command broad majority support. Bill Clinton did this, successfully, after losing House and Senate in the 1994 off-year election. But Clinton lived through the experience of losing an election (an early 1980s re-election try as Arkansas governor). By contrast, the Obamessiah has been the golden boy, laying the hurt on Hillary without pause, cheered-on by the media gallery. He's never had to re-think his strategy because he's never had a set-back.
With true failure as an alternative, can Obama grow-up, quickly, this year? So far, he's never had to.