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Morning Jay: Farewell 2011, You Will Not Be Missed

6:00 AM, Dec 28, 2011 • By JAY COST
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This year also suggested that President Obama suffers from a lack of what George H.W. Bush once called, “the vision thing.” This is the president, after all, who was reduced to astro-turfing Twitter outrage over the tax payroll impasse – not exactly what Teddy Roosevelt had in mind when he coined the phrase, “the bully pulpit.”

Beyond these sorts of pathetic PR stunts by the commander in chief, there were actual bipartisan solutions suggested to solve our problems – the Simpson-Bowles plan and the Wyden-Ryan proposal – but they went nowhere because this president refused to get behind them. Most precious to him is the fiction that the Republican party is now so extreme that he cannot work with it, despite his promises during the campaign of 2008 to do just that. Obama's bottom line: crafting some grand entitlement/deficit/tax bargain just will not help his reelection; accordingly, there was no grand bargain in 2011, and there will not be one in 2012.

In fact, I think I have been a little unjust on this page over the last year. In previous entries, I had noted that Obama was re-running the Harry Truman ’48 campaign, but that is not very fair to President Truman. After all, while Truman was demagoguing the Republicans on domestic policies, he was hammering out a bipartisan, anti-Communist/internationalist foreign policy that would hold more or less for the next half century. Obama clearly lacks the ingenuity to craft such a nuanced position. 

Thanks to 2011, we can now paint a fairly clear picture of what a second Obama term would look like. If the country should grant him a Democratic majority, akin to the 2009-2010 Congress, we can expect the old Obama-Pelosi-Reid gang to reunite for another round of liberal policymaking, replete with generous payoffs to key Democratic clients, onerous new regulations, and crippling new taxes – economic stagnation be damned! If, on the other hand, Obama receives a Republican Congress, we should expect 2013 to be a repeat of 2011 – nothing gets done, the partisan demagoguery ratchets up, and the economy is left to limp along on its own. "Strap yourself to a tree with roots / you ain't going nowhere..."

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