I guess I’d be more saddened by this had we had a chance to say “hello” at all. Isn’t this the same President who told Republicans “I won” on Day 3 his first term while locking them out of the process of writing his stimulus bill? Ron Fournier laments the departure of a man who never arrived:
Politics is the delicate art of compromise: Two warring factions solving problems by finding ways in which all sides can declare victory. It is not, as Obama said, the work of absolutists. Which is why he needs to walk the narrow line between confidence and hubris, or otherwise he won’t get anything through the GOP-controlled House.
History doesn’t make excuses. If Obama’s agenda fails because Republicans don’t bow to his demands, that will be on him. He has to work with or around the GOP. Apparently, he’s chosen the latter.
What happened to the idealistic young politician who argued against dividing the country into red and blue Americas? It seems we’re not going to see him again.
Well, let’s take stock. In the first two years, we had ObamaCare, the aforementioned stimulus bill that failed to stimulate and create jobs, and Dodd-Frank. Oh, yes, and the oft-heralded Lily Ledbetter Act, which gave trial lawyers extra time to file discrimination lawsuits. On which of these was Obama “post-partisan,” again?
In the second two years, after Republicans took control of the House, we couldn’t even get the Senate to fulfill its legal obligation to produce budgets, while Obama’s two budget proposals were so radical that they couldn’t muster a single Democratic vote in favor in three separate floor votes on Capitol Hill, let alone any Republicans. Instead, we careened from cliff to cliff, and in fact are still careening while Obama insists loudly that he won’t negotiate on debt limits, all while national debt skyrockets past $16 trillion.
However, Fournier is undoubtedly correct that Obama’s inaugural speech was mostly a thumb in the eye to his opposition. As a new spot from Crossroads GPS demonstrates, that message came through loud and clear to everyone:
David Ignatius ripped Obama’s speech in yesterday’s Washington Post in their blog named — wait for it — PostPartisan:
The only voice that really soared at midday was Beyonce’s, while singing the national anthem. President Barack Obama’s second inaugural address, by contrast, was flat, partisan and surprisingly pedestrian—more a laundry list of preferred political programs than a vision for a divided America and disoriented world. …
Missing from the speech was the first inaugural address’s perhaps naïve dream of uniting America. This second speech seemed to accept that America is divided and, as Obama put it, “progress does not compel us to settle centuries long debates about the role of government for all time.” He called out those who would “treat name-calling as reasoned debate”—I wonder who that could mean?—but Obama’s plan seemed to be to roll the negativists, rather than try any longer to reason with them.
Again, I’m not sure that’s a sea change from the President who coined the term “Romnesia” (name-calling for me, but not for me!), and whose campaign smeared his opponent as a tax-cheating felon who wanted to put women in binders.
Peter Wehner gives a better analysis of where this all leads:
In his inaugural speech he did what he seemingly cannot keep himself from doing: portraying himself and his followers as Children of Light and portraying his opponents as Children of Darkness.
You are either with Obama–or you are with the forces of cruelty and bigotry. In Obama’s world, there is no middle ground. He is the Voice of Reason; those who oppose him are the voice of the mob. They are the ones who (to cite just one passage from his speech) mistake absolutism for principle, substitute spectacle for politics, and treat name-calling as reasoned debate. …
What we are seeing is the authentic Obama, a liberated and fiercely committed progressive who believes he is an agent for social justice and fairness. He feels the election completely vindicated him and his agenda. He has sheer contempt for his opponents. And in his second term he will crush them if they stand in his way.
Call it the transmogrification of Hope and Change.
Actually, it sounded more like Business As Usual.
Update: Related, from Taegan Goddard: 5 Unmistakable Shots at Republicans in Obama’s Inaugural Address.