Can he give conservatives and liberals just enough of what they want to win reelection? That is the pattern we saw in the closing days of the lame duck Congress – one that could dominate the second half of Obama’s presidency.
For conservatives, Obama caved on perpetuating lower taxes for the rich. For liberals, he signed landmark legislation aimed at ending discrimination against gays in the military. (For himself, the President squeezed in passage of the START treaty, a step toward his desire for universal nuclear disarmament.)
It is a formula that could facilitate Obama’s reelection: Occasionally give in to conservatives on the fiscal front, while sporadically delivering what liberals want on the social front. Neither side will be thrilled but perhaps neither side will be angry enough to cost him another term.