Shortly after Obama was elected, with large majorities in both Houses of Congress, the Republicans made a conscious [and, rather imprudently, publicly announced] decision to do everything in their power to make his presidency fail. This was not, I am convinced, because of some mistaken belief that Obama is a flaming radical whose goal is to shift American politics tectonically to the left, but rather because of a cold-eyed calculation that the Democratic majorities were too diverse and internally divided to achieve much legislatively without at least a modicum of Republican support. They judged, I believe, that if they could produce unanimous Republican opposition to every proposal coming from the White House, no matter how close it might be to something in which they actually believe, pretty soon Blue Dog Democrats, Progressive Democrats, Black Caucus Democrats, Pro-Life Democrats, and Pro-Choice Democrats would be at each others' throats. Early on, this strategy was threatened by the momentary defection of Olympia Snowe, but the Republican Leadership whipped her into submission, and since then only one lonely Louisiana Republican elected by happenstance in a safely Democratic district has broken ranks.
This was a bold and risky strategic choice, for two reasons. First, the strategy could be pursued with any hope of success only if the Republicans made a total all-in commitment to it long before they saw any evidence of its success. And Second, if it failed, they would be left completely without either a platform for the 2010 mid-term elections or a set of accomplishments they could showcase in the campaigns. Early on, the Democrats succeeded in labeling them "The Party of No," and although the Republicans rejected the label angrily, it stuck because it corresponded to reality. They had no alternative response to the economic crisis, no alternative plan to create jobs, and -- most notably -- no competing health care reform plan. Since Obama took from them the foreign policy/military card by actually opting for an Afghan surge [a decision that was, in my opinion, a grave mistake], they have been reduced to embracing the fringe craziness of the Birthers and Tea Partiers.
Obama has now announced his intention to attempt the reform of our immigration policy. This, as even George W. Bush understood, is a potentially fatal trap for the Republicans. If they oppose immigration reform with the same nativist, racist fanaticism that has been displayed in the past by such leading lights of the Republican Party as Tom Tancredo, they will almost surely lose the fight and be branded for a generation as anti-Latino. But as things now stand, any among their ranks with enough sense to see the electoral folly of such a course are certain to face nativist primary challenges from the right [as, in fact, McCain does from none other than Tancredo.]
Long ago, I predicted that health care reform would pass, that it would be an imperfect bill, but that it would transform America's approach to the subject. Now I will make another prediction. Obama is going to advance a series of proposals that, while more centrist than progressive in content, will be greeted by Republicans with hysteria and fury. He will be successful with most of these proposals, if not all of them. And in November of this year, the Democrats will lose no more than the historically average losses of a party in its first mid-term election after securing the presidency.
Oh yes. And Obama will be elected to a second term in 2012. But that, in blogoland, is so far in the future as to be the equivalent of a science fiction fantasy.