As he barnstorms outside Washington, Obama has rubbed many up the wrong way. He has accused doctors of gouging; Americans love their doctors. He had denounced what he calls “the business mentality”; Americans are overwhelmingly pro-business.

So Obama will have to make a choice: stick with the liberalism of Kennedy, or move to the centre, as Clinton did after the Republican landslide in 1994. Clinton revived his presidency, won approval for welfare reform, was re-elected, and warded off impeachment.

Kennedy and other liberals fumed at his apostasy, and that bloc is determined to keep the President from “pulling a Clinton”. But if Obama sides with them, he’s likely to strengthen the growing coalition against him, which has already hindered his health-care, energy, and immigration initiatives.