President Obama is in a dilemma from which there appears to be no easy or early escape.
Democrats are the Party of Government. They feed it, and it feeds them. The larger government grows, the more agencies that are created, the more bureaucrats who are hired, the more people who become beneficiaries, the more deeply entrenched in power the Party of Government becomes.
At the local, state and federal level, there are 19 million to 20 million government employees. And if one takes only Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps and earned income tax credits, we are talking of scores of millions who depend on government checks for the necessities of their daily life.
These vast armies of voters -- these tens of millions of government employees and scores of millions of government beneficiaries -- are the big battalions of the Party of Government. They provide implacable resistance to any party that pledges to cut or curtail government. For they are fighting for their livelihood. And here is where Obama's dilemma arises.
The progressives thought that with the takeover of both houses of Congress by veto-proof Democratic majorities, and the election of the most progressive of the candidates in the Democratic primaries save Dennis Kucinich, a new Progressive Era was at hand.
Another New Deal, another Great Society. And early passage of a stimulus package of $787 billion, nearly 6 percent of the entire economy packed into a single bill, seemed to confirm that happy days were here again.
But, at the same time, the federal takeover of AIG, General Motors and Chrysler and the bailouts of Fannie, Freddie and the Wall Street banks were igniting a Perot-style prairie fire that manifested itself in Tea Party rallies in the spring and town-hall protests in August.
Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi denounced these folks as "evil-mongers" engaged in the "un-American" activity of shouting down Democrats -- though, when college radicals do it to conservatives, it is called "heckling" and the conservatives are instructed that they "just do not understand the First Amendment."
Came November, Republican victories in Virginia and New Jersey showed that the grass-roots rebellion was real and broad-based. This was confirmed by Scott Brown's astonishing upset in Massachusetts, where a state Obama won by 26 points went Republican by 6 points, with Brown capturing a Senate seat held by the Kennedy brothers since 1952. Talk about a fire bell in the night.