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Want to Win? Masquerade as a Conservative

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
"I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president," President Obama told Diane Sawyer of ABC News in January 2010.


President Obama has a pattern when it comes to his political rhetoric. If he talks about foreign policy, he tells the truth; if he talks about domestic policy, he lies. That's because President Obama feels that while the rest of the world deserves honesty, the American people can be manipulated for their own good.

Normally, President Obama has utilized this dichotomy of dissemblance to press for socialism, both foreign and domestic; that's what has made him a darling to the far-left press. Now, however, with his presidency hanging in the balance, President Obama is taking his domestic lying to a whole new level: he's posing as a conservative in order to retain his personal power.

Obama's supporters thought he was about the cause. Turns out he was really just about himself.

This week, President Obama embraced the core of conservative economics, signing off on the extension of the Bush tax cuts and doing Republicans one better by reducing wage-earners' Social Security payroll tax by 2 percent for one year. Democrats pledged to oppose the Obama plan.

"I can tell you with certainty that legislative blackmail of this kind by the Republicans will be opposed by many, if not most, Democrats," said Playboy devotee and Democrat Rep. John Conyers (Mich.). Radical Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said disappointment would be "an understatement."

They're justified in their anger. After all, this is a president who stated this about the Bush tax cuts in 2007: "people didn't need them, and they weren't even asking for them, and that's why they need to be less, so that we can pay for universal health care and other initiatives ... what people really want is fairness. They want people paying their fair share of taxes." Obama even disclaimed the use of tax cuts to help the economy in 2008, explaining that raising the capital gains tax would be useful, even if it hurt the economy "for purposes of fairness."

Yet now this president -- a man who says he is a principled advocate of liberal economics, who sees all cash as essential springing from government -- is a Laffer curve addict. While he said he sympathized with those who opposed the deal -- a typical Obama gambit meant to disarm his opposition -- he also noted, "The American people didn't send us here to wage symbolic battles or win symbolic victories."

To be honest, I wasn't sure Obama had it in him. Sure, he can lie with the best of them -- his repeated insistence that Obamacare would help the economy, his inflexible emphasis on nonexistent "green" and "shovel-ready" jobs shows that much -- but he's always used that power to push an ideologically rigid redistributive regime on the American people. Obama has always seemed out of touch with regular Americans, whether he's busy calling them bitter clingers to God, guns and xenophobia, or whether he's trotting out administration officials to call them racists.

He still doesn't like us. But perhaps after the last election, he's beginning to respect the fact that we're his sovereigns, not his subjects.

Or not. Don't count on the transformation of Barack Obama into a "will of the people" politician. The evidence on tax cuts was simply too much for Obama to ignore -- even he had to admit that he was wrong, that Americans do want lower tax rates. But he won't see his cave-in as an ideological shift. He'll see it as a one-time concession, to be repaid by the American people in the form of support. Every government action is a payoff to Obama; every tax break a bribe, every subsidy a sweetener. Obama figures he just bought our votes.

So watch for him to swing back to the left quickly and forcefully now. Whenever Obama believes he has secured the support of a subgroup, he generally abandons them for the next several months. That's why Obama, after revising government regulations to benefit gay and lesbian couples, abandoned "don't ask, don't tell." That's why Obama, after failing to pass quasi-amnesty for illegal immigrants, abandoned the DREAM Act. Obama thinks this is political pragmatism -- short-term payoffs allow him to ignore the greased recipient.

That's how he sees the tax cuts. He gave them to us not because he's realized the error of his ways, but because he treats the American people like dogs -- throw us a bone every so often, and he can expect us to fetch the paper for him. The tax cuts aren't the beginning of the end of the Obama socialist agenda; they're a temporary road stop disguised as a permanent settlement.

After the midterm elections, Obama knows one thing very clearly: He doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of his deposed brethren. He'll masquerade as a Republican in order to avoid that fate. We must remember, though, that it's just a masquerade until he proves otherwise.

Ben Shapiro, 26, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School. He is the author of the new book "Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House," as well as the national bestseller "Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America's Youth." To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at


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