After listening to the inaugural address last week, one could not help but feel a sense of déjà vu. Though President Obama did not enlarge his support during his re-election the way that George W. Bush did, he seems to be operating under the belief that the country has suddenly lurched to the left on all things from global warming to religion to Second Amendment rights. In an article by Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal he provides some interesting evidence:
The president’s address made clear that his principal domestic concerns are no longer petty ones of the economy (45 words in three sentences) or deficit reduction (19 words in one sentence, followed by 155 words in six sentences saying entitlements won’t be cut).
Instead, Mr. Obama’s priorities for his second term are climate change (nine sentences and 160 words) and "our generation’s task" (10 sentences and 358 words) of equal pay for women, access to gay marriage, the repeal of laws requiring photo identification to vote, immigration reform and gun control.
Rather than the President Obama in 2004 who uttered that “[t]here is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America—there’s the United States of America,” the second-term President Obama seems to be more partisan than ever:
…Mr. Obama’s astonishingly partisan edge, echoed by a chorus of his aides. He ungraciously slapped at his defeated Republican rival, Mitt Romney, saying Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security did not make America "a nation of takers" (playing off a phrase uttered by Mr. Romney during the campaign). Mr. Obama also suggested that Republicans were name-calling absolutists and clowns, not a loyal opposition to be treated with any respect. So his point wouldn’t be lost, White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer telegraphed it in Sunday’s Washington Post, saying, "[W]e don’t have a political system or an opposition party worthy of the opportunity."
Just like after President Bush prevailed in 2004 and then proclaimed that he had some political capital that he intended to spend, President Obama seems to be following the same pattern. Given the character of the victory last November (which was sound but underwhelming for an incumbent looking for a vote of confidence in his leadership), America remains a divided and conflicted nation. President Obama, on the other hand, seems to think there is unity behind pushing a new liberal arc to the trajectory of the country.