Obama’s Second Term: An Assault Weapon Against the GOP?
It has been suggested in numerous quarters that Barack Obama’s second term agenda is to destroy the Republican Party. Pundits from left, right, and center have noted what appears to be an agenda crafted not to get anything done (other than via the occasional executive order), but to do damage to the Republican Party by placing it in a series of no-win scenarios. The Hill has noted that he appears to be on an endless campaign, in spite of the fact that he’ll never actually run for anything again.
Confirmation comes from the horse’s mouth, or at very least from one of the horse’s top grooms:
President Barack Obama’s top political aide used an Inauguration Day interview to sketch out a provocative political strategy intended to split the Republican Party in time to impact the 2014 midterm elections.
“The barrier to progress here in many respects, whether it is deficits, measures to help economy, immigration, gun safety legislation … is [that] there are factions here in Congress, Republicans in Congress, who are out of the mainstream,” White House advisor David Plouffe said on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley.”
“We need more Republicans in Congress to think like Republicans in the country who are seeking compromise, seeking balance,” he claimed.
The GOP has caught on:
GOP leaders had expected a re-elected Obama would want to focus on the economy, reducing the nation’s high unemployment-rate — roughly 24 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed — and curbing the government’s growing debt. [ . . . ]
Instead, since his re-election Obama has picked fights on budgets, guns, immigration and Cabinet nominees; he has spurned compromise and used his White House perch — and allied news media — to claim the GOP is a captive of an extremist minority.
Obama has made himself fairly plain. He is coming out with an aggressive agenda for his second term—a agenda so far to the left that he would struggle to get it through Congress even if both Houses were controlled by Democrats. He knows he won’t be able to get any of this through. Harry Reid has the Senate doing crossword puzzles instead of work. The GOP controls the House. He has no possible way of getting these radical items passed into law.
He has not paid anything other than lip service to an effort to heal the foundering U.S. economy. He has not stated a desire even in principle to work with the other side. Instead, he has given a radical laundry list and named the GOP as obstructors of all that is good and decent in the world. That is not accidental. He’s working a strategy.
It is the strategy of a community organizer and agitator. It is pure Alinsky. It’s out of the playbook of Vladimir Lenin and a dozen other leftists—exacerbate problems, and in the resulting chaos, blame the other side.
Obama knows this has a chance, not just because of a complicit media or dulled electorate, but because of the GOP base itself. They want results. They see Obama’s agenda as dangerous, and they want bold action to stop him. Many of them forget that the GOP has little ability to do much in this environment either, and are growing increasingly impatient with the Party establishment. (This is added to the frustration that a somewhat moderate “establishment” Republican won the GOP nomination but was unable to win the election.) Obama knows this, and can use it to his advantage. He can act in ways that get nothing accomplished, but cause conservatives to continue to pick at a dozen scabs.
Obama also knows that the American people, writ large, want progress on the economy. His policies don’t help the economy nearly so much as they simply divert taxpayer money to favored corporations, Democrat donors and power-brokers, and his labor union allies. Obama has an Ivy-league education; he’s not stupid. He can see that his policies aren’t pulling the economy out of its stagnation, but he doesn’t need to concern himself with his serial economic failures, because ongoing economic crisis affords him another advantage: He can simply blame Republicans for it all. He just proposes more of the same policies, claims that they would work if only we would give them a chance, and then blames the GOP for obstructing our salvation. With a complicit media and a nation of voters too busy to do the research to find the truth behind the smoke clouds of spin, he can get away with it. He is so brazen, and the media cover for him so thoroughly, that even feels as though he can get away with blaming the GOP for a sequester that was his idea in the first place (see video below).
So how will the GOP react?
Plouffe’s statement likely will strengthen the GOP’s consensus that Obama is seeking confrontation prior to 2014, not bipartisan cooperation to spur the stalled U.S. economy.
That consensus was highlighted at the GOP’s conclave in Williamsburg, Va., where House leaders and members agreed to back away from a looming debt-ceiling clash with Obama. Instead, they rallied behind their leaders and decided to emphasize a cautious strategy that scaled back their goals to ensure they keep their House majority in 2014, according to media reports.
From a pragmatic and electoral standpoint, that makes sense. There is no way that the GOP is going to get anything substantive past do-nothing Harry Reid. And Obama has made it clear that he has no interest in fixing the nation’s problems, and would prefer to simply take this opportunity to use turn the Oval Office into a revolutionary foco to destroy the GOP.
But even here, the situation works to Obama’s advantage. Conservatives and tea partiers are frustrated. The idea of a “cautious strategy” does not sit well with them. There is more talk in conservative circles of “giving up” on the GOP than there has been in a long time. Obama is happy to sit back and watch that dynamic develop as well.
So, does any of this work?
Needless to say, no one knows for sure. Obama has a lot to gain and little to lose. On the other hand, Obama is not interested in compromise, and is likely to overreach. He already has a list of scandals and extra-constitutional actions in his dossier that would have brought a less well-protected president down. Will one of these threads finally get pulled, causing his presidency to unravel? Will he overreach and produce a backlash? His move against gun owners has already produced a massive reaction. Could that be the bridge too far? Or, will he succeed in helping the GOP tear itself apart?
Time will tell . . . but we all do also have a say in the matter. More unity among supporters of liberty and the opponents of Obama’s agenda would do wonders. A focus on the things about which the GOP establishment, the tea party, social conservatives, libertarians, and the rest of the right all agree, rather than the must smaller list of disagreements, would do wonders. The choice of what happens is not Obama’s alone.
Ardently devoted to the cause of human freedom, he has worked at the confluence of politics, activism, and public policy for more than a decade. He co-wrote a ten-part series of video shorts on economics, and has film credits as a researcher on 11 political documentaries, including Citizens United's notorious film on Hillary Clinton that became the subject of a landmark Supreme Court decision. He is the founder of several activist endeavors, including AnyStreet.org (now a part of Western Free Press) and Liberatchik.com. He is currently the managing editor of and principal contributor to WesternFreePress.com.