Q: How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One, but only if it really wants to change.
Any president, at any time, can choose to embody the consensus his nation has reached after it has engaged in a period of extended debate. That process, called triangulation, involves the embrace of the elements advanced by the right and by the left that Americans have found valid and the rejection of those from which they have turned away.
When our nation encounters a new problem, we welcome vigorous debate and encourage each side to articulate its views and elaborate its solutions. But, after a time, we have heard enough and want resolution, consensus and implementation. If Obama heeds that call, he can, indeed, turn his presidency around. But if he continues to pursue his leftist, socialist agenda and uses a feigned moderation as a guise for his radicalism, we will not be fooled again. We have been down that road with him before.
In health care, for example, the debate has left most of us in agreement that insurance companies need to be reined it. They should not be allowed to reject those with pre-existing conditions or to raise rates when their clients become sick. We mostly agree that lifetime caps on benefits are unfair. Since each of us could become sick and run afoul of those rules, we oppose them and ask for their reform.
On the other hand, we reject the total revamping of the health care industry, the reduction of doctor pay, the cuts in Medicare and the mandatory insurance embedded in the Obamacare legislation. Were Obama to embrace these solutions, he would quickly be able to pass his bill and would be hailed for it.
But will Obama do it? Will he emulate Bill Clinton and save his presidency by moving to the center? Certainly not before he has lost his control over Congress. It was not the defeat of health care that impelled Clinton's change of course, but his defeat in the elections of 1994. Even then, it took six months to turn the battleship around.
And after he loses Congress? Probably not even then. Clinton was a lifelong moderate who moved to the left when expediency dictated it. Obama is a lifelong liberal who pretends to move to the center when he has to.
A committed socialist, one doubts that Obama would sacrifice his cherished transformative goals for incremental policies.