The Paint-by-Numbers Recovery

by Rich Lowry

Obama is at 53 percent in the CNN poll and almost at 50 percent in the RCP average. The path to recovery for him was always completely obvious: stop sounding so partisan, make a few symbolic feints to the center (the regulatory review is the latest), forge a few compromises with Republicans, and–in the event of a national tragedy–strike a unifying note. He’s begun to take this path and it’s begun to pay some small dividends. Next up is the budget fight, and here too his most advantageous posture would seem to be obvious: Endorse about half or more of whatever specific cuts Republicans are proposing and make the difference sound world-shaking in its significance, while coming up with a tax-reform plan or long-term budget plan that sounds centrist and interesting. Republicans shouldn’t underestimate the difficulty of their task over the next two years. Putting a stop to Obama’s leftward lurch was one thing; convincing voters to remove him from office in two years is quite another. It will require winning a number of high-stakes political debates that are only beginning.