After the bloodletting over the health-care bill, President Obama is now at a crossroads.
Not one opposition member voted for his health-care reform. That, along with tawdry buyoffs for fence-sitting members of the Senate and a reconciliation process that avoids another Senate vote have made a mockery of Obama's former healing campaign rhetoric.
In reaction, will the president now pick his next fights more carefully -- avoiding the sort of shady legislative dealings and us-vs.-them rhetoric that helped ram this bill through?
Or will the methods used to pass "Obamacare," which many polls deemed unpopular leading up to this weekend's vote, become the model formula for a new damn-the-torpedoes, full-speed-ahead progressive agenda?
We will learn soon on a variety of issues.
Obama may well try again for a comprehensive cap-and-trade bill to reduce carbon inputs. The increased taxes resulting from such legislation would trickle down into added fees on power bills for households and businesses. Such European-style state regulation would delight his liberal base and cement his credentials as our first activist green president.
Yet, given the shaky economy and controversies over the very science of global warming, forcing cap-and-trade through would ensure more months-long acrimony -- identical, in other words, to the health-care fury.
Far easier world be a bipartisan effort aimed at more reliance on nuclear power, and radical expansion of drilling for vast deposits of domestic natural gas.
Pro-industry supporters would welcome the boost for employment and greater independence from costly foreign energy. Liberals could applaud fewer greenhouse gases than currently produced from existing coal-fired plants.
President Obama apparently also wants to do comprehensive immigration -- and spoke of his plans in a taped video at this past weekend's immigration march in Washington.
But Obama's version of comprehensively solving illegal immigration through earned citizenship/amnesty can likely only be pushed through by legislative gymnastics, demonizing the opposition as nativists and energizing partisan activists by paying them back for their blanket support in the 2008 campaign.
In other words, it will also require the same kind of knockdown, drag-out fight we just saw over health care.
Again, far better for the country would be a bipartisan effort to take less-dramatic steps at ending the influx of illegal aliens.