The Spectacle Blog

The Coming Triangulation

By on 10.29.10 | 4:37PM

I'm flying right now back from a week in Southern California speaking to the opportunity voters have to retake control over the energy (and thereby economic) future of the state, which its political class has proven an inability responsibly handle ($30 million from usual suspects including those putting their money where their money is to protect a gravy train can lead to a less than honorable campaign).

I cannot overstate my gratitude and deep admiration for the work and character of the people I met working to save a beautiful place gone mad. As I now head eastward, I am reading quite a bit of discussion whether President Obama will or even can pull a Bill Clinton and triangulate, acting the moderate between congressional Republicans and remaining congressional Democrats. The consensus is that he won't because he can't. That's not how he rolls. He's a committed man o' the Left. Indeed.

But.

The "but" is two-fold. Please, please do not fall for the coming rhetoric positioning himself as moderating (whether or not triangulating) which most surely will not be matched by substance. He will say he's focused, laser-like on economic growth, while dealing with new radicals. Some new Members will help along in this narrative with ill-advised utterances. Others will over-compensate and ‘grow in office' immediately. There's not much more tempting than earning the ‘strange new respect' of helpful lobbyist/fundraisers like Trent Lott and the Washington Post by realizing one really does need to go along to get along.

So, as predictable as that a spectacular sun will set in Orange County tonite, Obama will encourage a conflict leading to the greatest fear of the Republican leadership: a confrontation over ‘government shutdown'. This should be no fear at all for Republicans unless their real fear is that they cannot effectively message their position. It should go without saying, but 1995 proved it cannot: if you pass your spending obligation and the president refuses to sign it, you did not shut down the government (no matter how many times your Speaker inadvertently plays along by taking credit for doing so).

If the House and Senate cannot agree spending legislation, then you have a different issue. Which leads me to the coming triangulation. It will be Obama playing the tax commission - self-styled as the "deficit commission", but, c'mon - off against congressional Republicans.

So President Obama will most certainly triangulate. But in a different way. Prepare for the tax commission's recommendations, expected to be released soon after the elections. Which will be the first, subject-changing, Republican-defining shot in the new triangulation.

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