President Obama's Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel infamously stated, "there is no need to worry about the left." He was talking, of course, about the deafening screams coming from the ordinary citizens who call themselves Democrats, each time a piece of the Healthcare Bill was stripped away to make Republicans happy.
His thinking was, what are Democrats going to do? Vote for a Republican? Stay home and not vote?
Well now that the seat of the most famous Senator on the issue of Healthcare, Democratic Icon Ted Kennedy, has gone to a Republican in today's election, that question has been answered resoundingly in the AFFIRMATIVE!
Make no mistake about it, this is a smack in the face of the Democratic Congress and their overly-mollifying leader, President Obama, of stratospheric proportions. A Republican holding the Senate Seat that was held by Ted Kennedy for over 4 decades, inherited from his brother, Jack, upon taking the Office of the Presidency, is akin to Israel electing a Palestinian to the Presidency. I am not kidding about that either, Massachusetts is on fire tonight.
This election result is that devastating.
A rapid switch to bullying position, with a series of 15 minute prime-time press conferences to explain why he has abandoned his courtship of the do-nothing, stall-everything Republican members of the Congress, and is now forging ahead, with the full support of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid, on a broad and immediate Progressive Agenda.
So now what? There are two roads. I will discuss the least (nearly impossible) likely first.
President Obama could fire the Republican-lite Emanuel as Chief of Staff. Since the COS decides who sees the President and sets the Administration's Agenda, anything other than the resignation of Emanuel will signal a "Stay-the-Course" policy. With new blood in the Office, Obama would gain access to the many (and growing) voices from around the country that been grotesquely disappointed by the President's inaction on many fronts thus far, from jobs to healthcare.
- Create jobs overnight with the stimulus funds still in the bank.
- End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in the Armed Forces.
- Close Gitmo.
- Redirect money and resources from the two War theaters to Haitian relief efforts.
- Open investigations into those responsible for the collapse of the entire world's Financial system.
- Ask members of Congress to stay in town until a new, single-payer healthcare bill is passed, and make said bill effective in January 1, 2011, not 2013, as the current bill calls for.
- Place a national moratorium on all foreclosure action for 6 months, while your team puts in place a Federally-run mortgage re-negotiation network.
This would cause his (and Congress's) poll numbers to plummet in the short term, as, while many Americans expected such actions after his election in 2008, many are wary of such overt strong-arming these days. But as more Americans start to see jobs return to their communities, neighbors start to share stories of mortgage relief, news reports start to show arrests of those few financially malevolent persons on Wall Street and health clinics begin to reopen in communities across the country, those concerns will give way to broad, firm support for the President's actions.
This, of course, will not happen.
What will happen is, the President will go the route of William Jefferson Clinton, and start to govern EVEN MORE to the Right, as a political survival tool.
When Clinton lost the midterms in 1994, he ran to the Right with warp speed. In his haste to please Republican legislators in the run-up to the 1996 Presidential election, Clinton gutted the "socially irresponsible" Welfare program, decreased unemployment benefits and gave employers the go-ahead to reduce COBRA benefits by two months. The coup-de-grace was his signing into law, the Financial Modernization Act, which was the origin of the Financial collapse of 2008 and, conversely, made each of those reductions in the societal safety net all the more devastating, as more Americans were in need of a helping hand than any time in the last 60 years.
I have already suggested President Obama as Carol Mosley Braun, the last "promising" Senator from Illinois who squandered their national spotlight, only to be roundly defeated in a re-election bid. The threat of Obama irrelevancy is real: President's that serve one term are not the stuff of legend. Just ask Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson. What he does to get a second term, which is now certainly threatened, must be closely watched.
The decisions by Clinton were not just awful, they were dangerous. Fortunately, they were amidst the backdrop of an America in the primacy of of it's financial heft. Should this President choose to go down the same path, which seems likely, the consequences will be incalculable.