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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama the All-Powerful?

One of the more notable examples of the gulf in perceived reality between Left and Right these days is the very different perceptions of the power of Barack Obama. Most Democrats think the president has been hemmed in by the economic and fiscal conditions he inherited and by an opposition party with the will and the means to obstruct his every effort. Some Democrats also think he’s been hemmed in by his own timidity, and/or by the views and interests of his advisors, but nobody much thinks he’s kicking ass and taking names.
Meanwhile, on the Right, while the dominant attitude towards the president remains one of exultant mockery, in anticipation of a big 2010 Republican victory, it seems important to some pols and gabbers to maintain the impression that the president represents an ever-growing threat to American liberties.
This “Fear Factor” is especially present in the bizarre op-ed penned in the Washington Times by former congressman, and perhaps future candidate for Colorado governor, Tom Tancredo, calling for the president’s impeachment.
Now there’s nothing particularly newsworthy about Tancredo seizing the limelight with crazy talk, or even his contention that Obama’s violated his constitutional oath by refusing to immediately launch a nationwide manhunt to identify and deport illegal immigrants by the millions as the openly xenophobic Coloradan would do.
But it’s the paranoid fear of Obama’s totalitarian designs on the nation that stands out in the piece:

Barack Obama is one of the most powerful presidents this nation has seen in generations. He is powerful because he is supported by large majorities in Congress, but, more importantly, because he does not feel constrained by the rule of law….
Mr. Obama’s paramount goal, as he so memorably put it during his campaign in 2008, is to “fundamentally transform America.” He has not proposed improving America – he is intent on changing its most essential character. The words he has chosen to describe his goals are neither the words nor the motivation of just any liberal Democratic politician. This is the utopian, or rather dystopian, reverie of a dedicated Marxist – a dedicated Marxist who lives in the White House.

Aside from illustrating that Tom Tancredo knows absolutely nothing about Marxism, this passage makes you wonder why Tancredo thinks a future Republican Congress could get away with impeachment. Wouldn’t Obama simply suspend the Constitution, round up Republican Members, and then maybe ship them to one of those secret camps that FEMA–or is it AmeriCorps?–is supposedly building?
This is a perpetual problem for hard-core conservatives today, isn’t it? It’s hard to simultaneously maintain that Barack Obama is well on his way to becoming Benito Mussolini, and also that an aroused American people are on the brink of chasing him from office.
A similar contradiction seems to afflict the thinking of another conservative Republican who spoke out this week, Tennessee congressman and gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp, as explained by Hotline‘s Dan Roem:

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-03) suggested TN and other states may have to consider seceding from the union if the federal government does not change its ways regarding mandates.
“I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government,” said Wamp during an interview with Hotline OnCall.
He lauded Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), who first floated the idea of secession in April ’09, for leading the push-back against health care reform, adding that he hopes the American people “will send people to Washington that will, in 2010 and 2012, strictly adhere” to the constitution’s defined role for the federal government.
“Patriots like Rick Perry have talked about these issues because the federal government is putting us in an untenable position at the state level,” said Wamp, who is competing with Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R) and LG Ron Ramsey (R) for the GOP nod in the race to replace TN Gov. Phil Bredesen (D).

In his case, Wamp is floating an extra-constitutional remedy for what he claims to be an extra-constitutional action by the Congress and the Executive Branch. This did not work out too well when Tennessee and other states tried it in 1861, you may recall. But more immediately, what, specifically, is Obama doing that has led Wamp to propose so radical a step? Is he threatening to bombard military facilities in Chattanooga? Is an alleged “unfunded mandate” on the states really equivalent to Kristallnacht or the March on Rome?
Rhetorical excess is one thing; extreme partisanship is still another; but projecting totalitarian powers onto Barack Obama while one is in the very process of seeking to drive him and his party from office is, well, just delusional.

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