The Brilliance of the GOP, the Making of a Republican President: Triangulate this!
One could argue that Barack Obama has turned out to be the best Republican President the country has seen for more than a decade. Many have faulted the GOP for being obstructionist and being the party of no, yet in a year in which they are ostensibly out of power the GOP have been able to see many of their historic policy positions enacted while the party in power has been basically outmaneuvered in such a manner that if assessed on a purely public policy basis, one would be forgiven in concluding that a Republican holds the office of President of the United States of America.
George W. Bush was not able to swing the extension of off-shore drilling during his eight years in office even though “Drill Baby Drill” was the rallying cry of the GOP-base because of the fierce opposition he faced from a Democratic held Congress, but within a year and a few months in office, this long held GOP objective was made manifest by the “radical” Barack Obama. Nuclear power, unthinkable under Bush for the same reason as off-shore drilling is back in vogue and to avoid potential criticism from the right, the Obama administration routinely gives the back of its hand to the Democratic-base and triangulates against previously PUBLICLY held positions he trumpeted while running for office.
Even long held policy goals of the ruling Democratic party was co-opted (or corrupted, depending on one’s view) into becoming more GOPesqes and less Democratic; Obamacare over the course of a few months morphed into Romneycare, single-payer health care became Private Only healthcare and the long held policy goal of the left which is to provide long-term affordable care for all Americans became an orgy of subsidies for the health insurance industry (disguised as subsidy for the poor) and blatant backroom deals for drug makers, private hospital and the entire industrial medical complex.
Expect to see repeats of these GOP policy wins (disguised as Democratic wins) in financial reform, immigration reform, climate and energy policy and even the selection of the next Supreme Court associate justice. The GOP has dialed in on Obama and figured out how to tame that tiger. They rightly figure that if your opponent has a propensity to make decisions by splitting the difference, then to get most of what you want all you have to do is to give up previous positions (such as pay-go for instance) and demand an ultra-right wing positions that you know will not be acceptable, but which in the end, delivers to you your previously held (and ostensibly vacated) positions.
The playbook of winning at any cost and to find the least path of resistance has lead Obama, like his Democratic predecessor Bill Clinton to co-opt any policy whether or not it’s true to the spirit that brought them to office (because they are pragmatists don’t you know) has given the GOP the ability to get long held positions enacted without having to do much more than simply say “NO” to everything.
They have discovered a simple truth, if you have a person in the Whitehouse who wants to win at any cost and who is afraid to really stick to fundamental positions (some calls it ideological positions) then all you need to do is bring the country so far right by compromising on NOTHING that even policies that you vehemently disagree with will at the end of the day resemble that which you have advocated for in the past, more than it resembles anything that the Democrats had advocated for in the past. You do this while at the same time denying the ruling party from getting full credit for being bipartisan.
The GOP has solved a Bizzaro World problem – ruling while unable to rule. The brilliance of the GOP strategy is that it has turned the “most” liberal President to have held the office into the best Republican President in over a decade.