As I outline in my forthcoming book, Spoiled Rotten, the modern Democratic party has become a kind of Tammany-on-the-Potomac. It all gets back to Franklin Roosevelt, who effectively synthesized the public-spirited progressivism of William Jennings Bryan and Woodrow Wilson with the patronage-fuled politics of the urban machines. So, the modern Democratic party uses the power of government to do two things at once: advance the public interest (as the party elite understand it) and build and sustain the party’s base of clients…

So unsurprisingly, Obama has been a very dutiful steward of the interests of his party’s clients. From the stimulus to the auto bailout to cap-and-trade to Dodd-Frank to Obamacare to the jobs bill to the Keystone Pipeline to birth control, his public policy has always been crafted with an eye to keeping the party’s core groups on board. And as far as everybody else is concerned, it’s like Tom Donohue of the Chamber of Commerce said during the Obamacare battle: “If you don’t get in this game, you’re on the menu!” That’s the machine ethos in a nutshell: once we buy off half-plus-one of the electorate, we won’t lift a finger for you. If you don’t like it, move to the suburbs.

This is the connecting thread of the Obama administration’s major policy decisions: the clients come first. If there is room for the public interest after they have been taken care of, great. If not, so what? Team Obama will raise a billion dollars from its clients to claim this fall that everything the president did was for the public good, and bet that the voters don’t see past the propaganda before Election Day. And then it will be right back to work, socializing an ever-greater share of the national wealth, all to promote “fairness,” i.e. their groups win while you lose.