By T. CHRISTOPHER, Republican Redefined
“We’re not going to re-litigate the issues of the last two years” – even though we just spent two years re-litigating the eight years of the Bush administration. If you needed one sound-bite, that’s the one I’d hold on to, because that’s the one you’re going to hear repeated a million times in the days and weeks to come.
President Obama has just given his first post-election press conference from the East Room of the White House. He fielded a handful of questions which he answered in a particularly clever and evasive fashion as if he had a list of 8-10 talking points he intended to squeeze in somewhere during the presser. He did appear humble at times referencing a need to change the discourse in Washington and admitting that the urgency of his administration to “get things done” may have prevented them from actually changing “how things get done in D.C.” He called the defeat a “shellacking” and even went so far as to confess that he signed bills with earmarks in the interest of expediency – a statement destined to resurface in 2012 and juxtaposed against ’08 campaign Obama who promised he would do no such thing.
The press conference was more or less what I expected from this president. It was calculated, it was cold, and it set the tone for bipartisan negotiation by putting on the table a respectable first offer – if you will – from the President for how the political conversation will move forward.
As I said earlier, the President had a talking point list he seemed determined to slip into the press conference at some stage of the Q &A. Looked at objectively, its actually quite a brilliant tactic to go this route in a press conference forum – and one he has proven extremely effective at implementing - still give the speech just make it appear as if you’re responding to questions. It seems more real; it comes across as unscripted; and it gives the Press Corp what they want – an opportunity to hear their own voice(s).
1. He is “humbled”… BUT this wasn’t about rejecting his legislative agenda – it was about frustration with economy – economy, economy, economy!! Okay, so maybe he’s not really humbled since he still reminded the crowd that he “inherited” the bad economy – which is to be mentioned hereafter as an “emergency.”
2. Repealing Obamacare is not on the table. It will not be “revisited.” He is willing to compromise on specific shortcomings like the 1099 provision giving small business owners nightmares. “We’re not going to re-litigate the issues of the last two years” – even though we just spent two years re-litigating the eight years of the Bush administration.
3. The “green economy” is still the talking point of town for the Left moving forward – this appears to be the engine the President will use to drive negotiations with Republicans regarding tax cuts, tax break extensions, and the like.
4. The EPA is going to play a huge role in post-election politics – losing the House may signal a strategy change with the EPA as the “vehicle” used to bring about greenhouse gas regulation. The President also mentioned the “court order” which gives extra credence to the agency’s power to regulate and said we must “not ignore the science, find ways to solve these problems that don’t hurt economy. Good luck with that.
5. The President continued to drive home the message that he has every intention of seeing tax cuts extended to middle class families and to “those that provide incentives for businesses to invest” – the latter may have been a throw away line or could have been a sign he may be willing to work with Republicans to extend all of the Bush tax cuts since he knows he may have to or use the Veto to strike down a bill sent forth by Republicans.
6. Mentioning the EPA extensively should be a sign to all Americans of what the next year has in store for them. With the legislative machine having been dissembled, the President will be forced to rely upon the agencies of the Executive Branch to do his bidding. The EPA will be one avenue, but it will not be the only one. Reintroduce yourself to Cass Sunstein (our “Regulatory Czar) -The Socialization of America…Part One Obama, Part Two Sunstein
7. The President is going to travel more in the new year – how nice – especially since he began campaigning TODAY for 2012.
8. All that “stimulus” talk was a reaction to an “emergency.” It was in no way reflective of an underlying ideology or plan to reshape or restructure the United States of America – In essence, he’s saying, “Just forget about that “fundamental change” business I said back there.”
9. He wants to focus on “things we can agree on” – education (?), some tax cuts, clean energy, technology investments, job creation – sounds like small potatoes / far cry from first two years. I could go for that – save for the education business. What role does the federal government have in that?
10. He will “listen” to the Right. Related note: Boehner said he will “listen” to the Left. Related Question: Who the Hell is going to do the talking? Joe Lieberman?
11. He is a human after all… In speaking at the close of the presser, he said “Now I’m not recommending that every president take a shellacking like I did last night…” Aww. He really gets it.
So what’s the reality here? Will this president really move to the Center?
You want the short answer or the long one?
The Short version…. NO
The Long version…
There is no way this president will move to the Center, because there will be no one there to meet him. He outlined four or five talking points where he thought there could be compromise and even among them I see maybe two – tax cuts and technology investments. Whether you see the victory last night as worthy of a mandate or not, you have to acknowledge the reality that if there is a mandate it is to legislate from the Right – not the Center. And if there is no mandate to speak of, there will never be one for the Republican Party if those elected go anywhere near the Center.
President Obama will not move to the Center ala Bill Clinton for a variety of reasons including his inevitable loneliness if he should go that route, but none is more prevalent, relevant, or conclusive than the cold and simple fact that he’s incapable of doing so. He’s an ideologue. They don’t move to the Center. In this press conference, he said Americans don’t generally possess a rigid ideology. He intimated that they react to the situations impacting their lives. While such may be the case, it is not so for a man like President Obama. He’s not going to react to the situation and act accordingly. He’s going to stay the course and let the chips fall as they may.
The truth is, if his ideology wasn’t so damn misguided, I’d almost respect him for his stubbornness. Ronald Reagan once said that the problem with Liberals wasn’t that they knew nothing or were ignorant, it was that they simply knew too much that “wasn’t so.”
I would humbly submit four predictions regarding this President’s actions going forward – and the whole business of saying “we’re not going to re-litigate the issues of the last two years even though we have talked endlessly about the eight years that preceded us” - doesn’t count . That’s a freebie; its a lock.
I. This president will continue his laissez faire/totalitarian approach to legislation. He will leave the work to both Houses of Congress while at the same time micromanaging every move of his party every step of the way. Look at the way he handled health care reform if you need a model. He let Congress own the bill and the negative feedback until the bitter end and then revealed that he had his hands in the biscuit mix from start to finish. Going forward, he will appear to stay a safe distance from Capitol Hill moving in only when bipartisanship is imminent. Should McConnell, Boehner and Reid slip, trip, and stumble into a position that is agreeable, President Obama will ride in to claim the “honor.” Outside of that – he will leave those in the House and Senate to themselves -at least in appearance – to pick and fight with one another to their own detriment along party lines.
II. He mentioned earmarks today – don’t forget that reference. He may exercise that veto power somewhere along the way to shame Republicans on legislation he would have vetoed anyways.
III. President Obama will use every institution, agency, at czar at his disposal to move his agenda forward. Many cautioned during the first two years of this administration that they would prove dangerous, and we are on the verge of finding out the hows and whys. What cannot be done through the legislative process can be done by other means. Whether they are ethical, legal, or constitutional or not is another matter altogether.
IV. Barack Obama will become candidate Obama once more. He said today, he plans to get out of the White House with more regularity – and he will. He begins campaigning today for 2012 and that should be a scary prospect for Republicans. The man that has seemed so inept; so out of touch; so out of his element within the confines of the White House will be back on the campaign trail where he is “brilliant.” As his campaign gathers momentum and his approval ratings begin to crawl out of the basement, expect this president to become a Super-Obama confident with the power of the Office and emboldened by the admiration that has been missing for the last two years slowly creeping back.
Today is the first day of Campaign 2012 and the first day of the new Obama Presidency. Oh the exciting adventures that await us. Hold on to your seats folks. Its gonna be a wild ride.
Here’s a video of the Press Conference:
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, discussion at Memeorandum.