The Corner

Tune In Before the World Series

One benefit of MLB’s decision to start these World Series games so late (perhaps the only one) is that you can catch me on Kudlow tonight at 7:15ish talking about this Wall Street Journal article on whether Obama will perform a Clintonian pivot after the election or will dig in and hang his 2012 prospects on his ability to make a “do-nothing” charge stick:

Democrats are engaged in a sharp internal debate over how—or whether—the president and congressional leaders should work with the GOP, which is favored to take control of the House of Representatives and maybe the Senate. White House officials, who declined to comment, haven’t given allies clear signals about their approach, partly because their calculation depends on Tuesday’s outcome.

White House officials did not decline to comment to Richard Wolffe (formerly of Newsweek), who reported yesterday that the administration planned to “test Republicans’ unity and political resolve on three controversial issues: repealing the Bush tax cuts, implementing the deficit commission’s findings, and pushing immigration reform.” This suggests that Obama is leaning toward the more confrontational of the two options the WSJ describes:

Strategists in both parties see two options for President Barack Obama. He could seek deals on issues including trade, taxes and spending, following the model of President Bill Clinton, who after losing Congress in 1994, compromised with the GOP to overhaul welfare.

Striking deals could help Mr. Obama advance his agenda and run for reelection as a pragmatist. Some Democrats mention education and trade as areas for compromise, both realms where the White House is to the right of key constituencies.

Mr. Obama could also follow the model of Harry Truman, who dug in and successfully portrayed an opposition Congress as obstructionist. That would lay the foundation for a 2012 reelection campaign where the president could draw contrasts with his opponents.

To return to Wolffe’s reporting, it looks for now like the president is leaning toward the latter approach. If I were an undercover Republican agent posing as a Democratic strategist, I would encourage him to go for it. Republicans are going to try to cut spending and keep taxes low. If Obama wants to “draw contrasts” by running for re-election as someone who wants to do the opposite of that, then I think that is a decision his Republican opponent would welcome.


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