New York Magazine has a piece that’s attracting a lot of chatter today about Team Obama’s retooling after the midterms. While the media and Village pundits keep churning out lazy “Obama’s moving to the center” stories — here’s the passage that should kill this meme once and for all — but won’t.
As Obama prepared to set off for Hawaii for the Christmas holiday, he was walking on air. “He loved December, and we loved December, because it felt like what we came here to do,” says White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer. “We ran as a postpartisan problem-solver. We were endorsed by prominent Republicans. We got here, we tried to be that guy, Republicans basically turned their backs to us, and we had a choice: We could do nothing or we could do things. We chose to do things. That had consequences, political consequences. And so [the lame-duck session] gave us a chance to go back to being that sort of less partisan adult from the campaign.”
Couple noteworthy things here.
First, it sure sounds like Obama’s happiest when he’s punching hippies, because the loudest objections to the tax-cuts-for-billionaires cave were from the left.
But more significantly, Pfeiffer gives lie to “moving to the center” because he admits Obama’s always been there. You simply can’t move “from the left” as Third Way’s Jim Kessler told the New York Times if you’re starting from a non-ideological position as a pragmatic post-partisan.
Finally, there’s that interesting phrase, “we chose to do things” — even though they knew, as Pfeiffer now concedes, Republicans weren’t going to work with them. Those “things” include a stimulus bill that too modest and over 30% tax cuts (supposedly designed to attract Republican votes), a Republican health care bill without a public option (supposedly to attract Republican votes), to go with random conservative goodies like off-shore drilling (bait for Republicans on the energy bill?) thrown in for good measure.
Isn’t Pfeiffer really admitting that the White House has just been using Republicans as an excuse to pursue the corporate-friendly agenda they’ve wanted all along?
You don’t say.
It’s also clear from these comments that Team Obama believes the reason they took a beating in the midterms was they were too liberal.
Hope you enjoyed the unabashed left-wing activism of Obama’s first two years my friends, because it’s all over.