Friday, October 29, 2010

Sumo Wrestling Wrap-Up

So the big question now is, how is Obama going to react to whatever level of smashing defeat the Democrats are likely to suffer on Nov. 2?

Wide-ranging intellect and mouth Newt Gingrich sees an opportunity for Obama to do the Bill Clinton triangulation dance:

“Any president has enormous capabilities,” Gingrich says. 

“If [Obama] wants to, he can change. Bill Clinton was prepared to. It’ll take six months, but we’ll find out by June or July where Obama is.”

AP White House Correspondent Ben Feller predicts a new sort of Obama will emerge from the Taj Majal Hotel:

Obama will try to make gains on deficit reduction, education and energy. He will enforce his health care and financial overhauls and try to protect them from repeal should Republicans win control of Capitol Hill. He will use executive authority when blocked by Congress, and steel for scrutiny and investigations if the GOP is in charge.

Jay Cost in The Weekly Standard compares the approaches of comeback kids Harry Truman and Bill Clinton in regaining favor with the electorate, and wonders if Obama will follow either:

It follows that the success or failure of President Obama’s response to a new Republican Congress will depend very much on whether he accurately reads the public’s mind. If he thinks the country is center-right, he will accommodate, as Clinton did. If he thinks it is center-left, he will “give ’em hell,” as Truman did.

So far, the president has telegraphed that he intends to fight. He has warned that a Republican victory would mean “hand-to-hand combat.” A comment the president made in a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine suggests he expects Republicans to move his way, not vice versa: 

[Obama]:  "It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible .  .  . either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.
Finally, Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry in National Review Online describe errors in perception that have led the Democrats to their current precipice, and point out Republicans can fall off the cliff just as well:

Even now some liberals cannot accept that their dream palace is moving into foreclosure. They insist that the Democrats would be faring better if they had governed in an even more liberal manner. The polls, meanwhile, show that the percentage of Americans who consider Obama too liberal has steadily climbed during his presidency — and now constitutes a near-majority. The key mistake that Obama and his allies made in 2008 was one that political movements find hard to avoid: making too much of favorable election results. 

It seems clear enough with hindsight that the elections of 2006 and 2008 were rejections of a group of Republicans and their approach to governance. Elections almost always produce negative mandates: The electorate’s instructions rarely consist of more than the admonition not to be like the losing party. That’s a lesson that Republicans should take to heart, lest they repeat the errors of the Democrats they seem poised to vanquish.

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