Yesterday I mourned the intellectual skids and accentuated gamesmanship of David Brooks. His hair's on fire because President Obama -- now concluding his ninth month of uniform Republican hostility to all things reasonable -- has commenced, out of abject frustration and a belated ability to accurately read polling data, a liberal presidency.
The Post's Greg Sargent similarly mourned Brooks yesterday, while noting other self-wounded casualties: "The Hill insists that Obama’s new posture is merely designed to 'shore up or win back his base.' Mark Penn helpfully warns Obama that his 'class warfare' is tantamount to 'abandoning' the center. Mark Halperin pronounces that analysis 'essential reading.' "
This morning, Politico's Glenn Thrush assesses the Beltway's collective hysteria:
The moderate elite isn’t, by definition, an angry bunch but President Barack Obama’s pivot from calibrated centrism to soak-the-rich liberal populism has tapped a vein of middle-of-the-road rage and centrist angst.
Perhaps I'm reading something between Thrush's lines that really isn't there, but methinks he pokes fun at the Beltway pack, which, like all of us these days, is tightening its belt -- only, around its head.
Sargent was more direct: "[L]et’s be clear about this: It’s all utter nonsense." He then proffered an observation that has seemed nakedly manifest to this writer for some time:
To insist that [Obama's leftward turn] is only about winning over disaffected Dems is to misstate the nature of the bet the White House is making, which is a bet on where the true center of the country lies [my emphasis].
Obama didn't swing the pendulum. Right-wingers did; Republicans overreached, and thereby have incited a popular backlash to the left of center.
The winds-shifting polling has been there for months: the public's despair over the debt-ceiling fraud; the public's turn to Obama's side by the end of said fraud; the public's support of higher taxes (on those financially above them, of course); the public's disgust at fat-cat loopholes in the tax code; the public's howling for jobs, even at government's expense.
Till now, Obama has mostly chaperoned the shift. His political staff misread the nation's mutating temperament and misperceived independents as monolithic center-righters. The debt-ceiling debacle was the ideal opportunity to break the right's back -- Obama was gaining majority support for his balanced position with astonishing speed -- but, what the hell. We all screw up; the White House merely managed to do so rather magnificently.
At any rate, President Obama is now pushing the popular shift, rather than being pulled by it.