If the president heeds the counsel of the Clinton years and moves to the center, look for Jerry to challenge him more and more openly. Eventually, Brown could declare that the best way to serve the people of California is to run for president. "Once you get running for president into your system, it's hard to get rid of it," a very close friend of the new governor recently said.
Whoever rises to the occasion, nature abhors a vacuum -- and politics likes it even less. As Obama struggles to compromise with the GOP House and to keep support from his terrified and slim Senate majority, his drift to the center is likely to spark greater left-wing animus. They won't like his budget cuts, and they will be outraged by his likely extension of the George W. Bush tax cuts on the wealthy. His compromises on the right will incite a candidacy on the left. Just watch.