Which Barack Obama Will Show Up?

Much of the post-election chatter focused on whether President Obama got a storm surge. By hopping on Air Force One and putting his arm around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who praised Obama’s initial response to Sandy, we’re to believe the President secured a second term with a photo op.

Perhaps he did, but I have real doubts that Barack the Bipartisan will reappear except when addressing the much-publicized fiscal cliff, where compromise will be necessary to avoid a recession. Granted, bipartisanship is a two-way street, but now that he’s won a second term, the President certainly has the flexibility he spoke of to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

I’m speaking of the flexibility to beat back his left wing and truly govern in a bipartisan, rather than ideological fashion. Whether he chooses that route, or whether he confirms his opponents’ worst suspicions – that he’s really a Manchurian candidate who wants to transform America in ways he dare not openly discuss – he’s now governing for the history books. 

Some of that history already has been made. The Affordable Care Act will not be repealed, so we’ll be able to watch it play out and see whether it really bends down the cost curve, allows us to keep our health plans and doctors, and makes it easier for employers to create jobs. He promised all three.

Speaking of employers, the President’s now famous “you didn’t build that” remark might require some repair work with those who took offense, but I’m not holding my breath. The Obama administration had been delaying the implementation of regulations associated with the ACA and Dodd-Frank, so don’t expect government-imposed costs on business to take a holiday.

If the President wants to get big things accomplished, he needs to reach across the aisle and work with House Republicans, not ram things down our throats by administrative fiat. Ronald Reagan is considered an ideological president, but while his favorite sport was rhetorically bashing liberal Democrats, he also accomplished a great deal working with a Democratic Congress. 

I hope one thing is apparent to President Obama: If he doesn’t get the job done, there will be no more blaming George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, or the mulberry bush. That might have helped him buy more time, but in winning a second term, the “blame Bush” account is officially overdrawn.

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