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William Kristol | The Audacity of Nope

President Obama has gone on the offensive at the beginning of his second term, and Republicans aren’t happy campers. Of course, every Republican camp is unhappy in its own way.

There are the lamenters. Shouldn’t Obama have been less partisan in his Inaugural Address? Who gave liberals the right to launch ideological offensives? Doesn’t Obama know this is a center-right country? Didn’t he learn any lessons from Bill Clinton? Beneath these rhetorical questions, of course, lurks the fear that Obama will succeed.

But he won’t. There’s no need to worry that Barack Obama will be a liberal Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s foreign and economic policies succeeded. Obama’s policies are failing, at home and abroad.

But will the public notice? This is the concern of the second camp, the despairers. Liberals will continue to get away with shortsighted policies, they think, because the American public that reelected Obama is demographically different from in the good old days; also, there are now more takers than makers; what’s more, voters today are moved only by their short-term comfort rather than by their self-interest properly understood. So Obama will get away with it, the GOP is finished, and America’s doomed.

Not so. Against a candidate who ran an exceedingly unimaginative campaign, Barack Obama won just over 51 percent of the vote. He’s no FDR, and today’s public actually shows considerable resistance to being seduced by the siren song of contemporary liberalism.


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