Barack Obama is sounding like a new man these days. Or, if you prefer, like the candidate of old. It has liberals who have been sounding increasingly bitter and worried about his apparent capitulation to the plutocrats and who have even disparaged his motives, seeming confused as to how to take this populist turn.
The fact is, with the House passing of the Ryan budget plan, Republicans exposed their king. And with Obama’s subsequent speech on the deficit, it was mated.
President Obama’s long game to marginalize and radicalize Beltway Republicans, while appearing reasonable and open to bi-partisan compromise is over. In the process, he punked not only the GOP, but also the legacy press and his liberal base. To be sure, even as liberals bemoaned his sell-out to the oligarchy, half of the country considers Obama to be a “Socialist”, so he clearly staked out the exact spot he needed to be to survive. For obvious reasons, he didn’t tell anyone what he was doing.
I still would not presume to know what is in Obama’s heart or where he will go from here but it’s pretty clear that this was Obama’s strategy all along: to let the GOP become so radicalized by the Frankenstein base and so extreme in it’s coporatist agenda, that he could pivot into the populist space – a space that is now filling with centrist Beltway journalists writing about income inequality – that “conservatives” created by their extreme partisanship and corporatist overreach. Now let’s see what he does with it.
Either way, on the game that’s been played so far (on all of us), it’s check and mate.