My guess is that with powerful Clinton administration veterans like Summers and Emanuel gone, Obama will try to recapture the anti-establishment mojo he had in his 2008 campaign, and that rather than tacking right, he’ll try to reconnect with his liberal base by demonizing the newly empowered congressional Republicans. His decision to pick a fight on the Bush tax cuts and to personally attack House Republican leader John Boehner suggests that he’s seeking to shape the coming partisan brawl, not avoid it. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Barack Obama has no Dick Morris in his past, and his longtime advisers from Chicago, David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, whose influence will only grow with Emanuel and Summers gone, have nothing like Morris’ ideological ambidexterity.
Fundamentally, Bill Clinton triangulated after the 1994 midterms because he believed America was a center-right nation. I don’t think Barack Obama believes that, which is why he won’t triangulate. By the fall of 2012, we should know if he was right.