Advertisement

Obama's Post-Health Care Power Surge

By Peter Beinart, The Daily Beast - March 29, 2010

Is it just me, or does Barack Obama seem different since health care passed? He’s sticking it to the Senate by appointing 15 nominees while it is on recess; he’s sticking it to Benjamin Netanyahu by not backing down from demands that Israel halt building in East Jerusalem; he’s sticking it to the banks by aggressively pushing financial reform. It’s hard to believe that only two months ago, Paul Krugman announced that “I’m pretty close to giving up on Mr. Obama, who seems determined to confirm every doubt I and others ever had about whether he was ready to fight for what his supporters believed in.”

What’s happened? Obama fired his air traffic controllers.

In Washington, for the first time in his presidency, Obama is feared.

Let me explain. A president doesn’t define his political era merely by getting elected. Dwight Eisenhower got elected twice, but never challenged the welfare state built by the Franklin Roosevelt. Bill Clinton got elected twice too, but never successfully challenged the dismantling of the welfare state undertaken by Ronald Reagan. A president defines his age by changing the rules of the game, altering the conventional wisdom about what is politically possible.

In that sense, Ronald Reagan was our last era-defining president. But the Age of Reagan didn’t begin when he took the oath of office. Initially, many observers suspected that the Gipper would have to sharply curtail his right-wing ambitions in order to politically survive. At the 1980 convention, Reagan had almost made Gerald Ford his running mate, thus giving the moderate ex-president (and Henry Kissinger, who would have become secretary of State as part of the deal) veto power over his agenda. Reagan ended up winning without Ford’s help, but he didn’t even crack 51 percent of the vote, and Democrats retained their four-decade-old majority in the House.

The Age of Reagan only really began seven months into his presidency, when he fired the air traffic controllers. By law, the controllers weren’t allowed to strike. But they had legitimate complaints, and most observers assumed that the Reagan administration would negotiate a compromise, which was what most former presidents had done in high-profile labor disputes. A delegation of former Republican secretaries of Labor even offered to mediate. Reagan, however, didn’t want to help labor and management reach a deal. He wanted to send a message that 45 years after FDR’s Wagner Act, which had made labor unions a powerful force in American life, labor was about to be crushed. He gave the striking air traffic controllers 48 hours to return to work; then fired the lot of them. America’s air traffic control system didn’t fully recover until 1988, but Reagan was suddenly feared, not only at home, but abroad. The rules of the political game had changed. When House Speaker Tip O’Neill visited Moscow a year later, the thing that Soviet leaders wanted to talk about most was Reagan’s handling of the air traffic controllers’ strike.

 

With the passage of health care, Obama has now had his air-traffic controllers’ moment. When Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, it convinced many political observers that the old rules still applied. The country was still basically suspicious of big government, and thus, the only way for a Democratic president to survive was to do what Bill Clinton did after 1994: content himself with incremental change, accept the political parameters that Reagan established, be a Democratic Eisenhower.

View as Single Page 12 Back to Top March 28, 2010 | 10:55pm Facebook | Twitter | Digg | Share var object = SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: unescape('Obama%27s%20Power%20Surge'), summary:unescape('Ever%20since%20health%20care%20passed%2C%20the%20president%20is%20getting%20comfortable%20%20with%20flexing%20his%20muscles.%20Peter%20Beinart%20on%20the%20rise%20of%20the%20liberal%20%20Reagan.'), content:unescape('Ever%20since%20health%20care%20passed%2C%20the%20president%20is%20getting%20comfortable%20%20with%20flexing%20his%20muscles.%20Peter%20Beinart%20on%20the%20rise%20of%20the%20liberal%20%20Reagan.'), url:'http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-03-28/obamas-power-grab/' }, {button:false, embeds:true}); var element = document.getElementById("sharethis"); object.attachButton(element); | Emails | print var OutbrainPermaLink=document.location.href.replace(document.location.search, '').replace(//d+/$/,'/').replace(document.location.host, 'thedailybeast.com'); var OB_Template = "The Daily Beast"; var OB_demoMode = false; var OBITm = "1255455386150"; var OB_langJS ='http://widgets.outbrain.com/lang_en.js'; if ( typeof(OB_Script)!='undefined' ) OutbrainStart(); else { var OB_Script = true; var str = ''; document.write(str); } Health-care Reform, Democrats, Politics, Ronald Reagan, Republicans, Barack Obama, House Speaker Tip O'neill, Wagner Act, Midterms, East Jerusalem, Air Traffic Controllers, Financial Reform, Dwight Eisenhower, Benjamin Netanyahu, Paul Krugman, Franklin Roosevelt, David Frum, Banks, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton  (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies Sort Up Sort Down sort by date: funkyColdMedina

peter beinartyea verily man! that was a very cogent analysis describing the state of the state let us see what we can see come november...

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 1:54 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dave1959

Obama feared, what a joke. He and his gang started his Presidency with the utmost arrogance and were soon brought down to earth. He has just passed a HCB, big deal, the Dems used the most devious means at their disposal. Pelosi, just before the weekend vote said there would be no more horse trading, what happens, obama makes a deal with Stupak.If this HCB was so great why did they not pass it when they had the majority. The Dems still have the most, in fact all to lose if this HCB starts to go south. This man should take stock of what happened last year. Next time he might not get up !!

Flag It | Permalink | Reply | (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies 3:00 am, Mar 29, 2010 WiltonDiary

Dave1959: 1) The Bill passed the Senate with 60 votes; thats a majority! 2) The Democrats are still the majority party! 3) Democrats control the White House, Senate and Congress; that's the majority.Now: What part don't you understand. The Republicans lost in November and the Democrats won. Until 2012, unless the Republicans can lower their hate range; the Democrats will continue to control the Senate and Congress, as well as the White House.The United States of America is a Democracy!

Flag It | Permalink | Reply | (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies 3:10 am, Mar 29, 2010 dogBreath

wilton diaryi don't know i guess i have to agree with youit appears dave1959 is a dumb ass of political proportions but then so are all the republicans...

Flag It | Permalink 3:40 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dave1959

Wilt and Smelly Breath .. In your own universe I see. Lets see what happens mid-terms.

Flag It | Permalink 4:42 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dreamer4Ever

Yeah, if HCB goes south, it WILL all be on the Democrats.However, first it has to go south. And if it doesn't go south, if it in fact saves lives and makes getting by in America easier, then it is the Democrats, and they alone, who stand to gain.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 3:41 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dreamer4Ever

Finally, the promising candidate is morphing into a president.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply | (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies 3:43 am, Mar 29, 2010 rickgoldin

You got that RIGHT !!!! :) Damn glad to see it.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 6:51 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dimlah

I want to meet the person whose job it is to take a rather balanced article about the hardening of political determination possessed by President Obama and turn it into the headline, "Obama's Mad Power Grab."It's like something out of a Matt Drudge post.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 4:04 am, Mar 29, 2010 stevenstevo

I'm wondering if you realize Reagan's term started in 1981, not 1980. Reagan was signing bills in his sleep from day 1, starting with the oil tax cuts passed 28 days after he took office. Obama has been in office for almost a year longer than Reagan was when he passed the ERTA. And let's not forget that the Democrats controlled the House at the time under Reagan. At the moment, the Democrats currently control all three branches. At this point, Obama and the Democrats have underperformed considerably.Plus, there is a reason Obama had to get his "swagger" back (as factually reported in the NYT)--because he lost it last year after not delivering on a multitude of promises.60% of Americans still oppose the plan, and it's only going to get worse, and sooner rather than later. It will be interesting to watch--I can't wait actually. AT&T reports their health care expenses will increase by $1 billion. Response: Obama has his swagger back. The lunatic stuff was great, but that's already dead. The poll comparing Obama to Hitler? Not so much.Don't give up though. There has to be something--you just have to invent it.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 6:34 am, Mar 29, 2010 rickgoldin

Rock on, my Brother. Trema Kasi for everything you're doing. It's been a real pleasure seeing you wade into just about every topic of concern and actually provide the beginnings of change. Yeah, you can. It may not be the perfect result but we're finally making progress. Don't worry about the folks who can't see why and where you're going. Small people have no concept of change ... they love to wallow in the misery they know. Can't wait to see the next one, Dude. Hehehe Carry on.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 6:50 am, Mar 29, 2010 TruthSpeaksWisdom

I can respect Reagan and both Obama for having to stand on their principles. However the current GOP's position of opposing the Health Care Reform Bill is shallow on many accounts because of their opposing behavior versus their passionate speeches. If you really oppose such a high deficit government run program, then renounce in a statement on the steps of the Congress your own participation in a government paid plan and ; you will seek a private plan. Thus showing your principles are steadfast and then I can could respect that. Also saving the debt, lowering the deficit and this bull of freedom of government run tyranny..Oh also stop accepting donations from these very groups you advocate so passionately for.You see you can look that much better if you did these simple steps.- But- if it is all about enriching your own bank accounts from both the public tax payers and the lobbyist then my view will stand .

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 7:05 am, Mar 29, 2010 WestVillager

Thanks for the Facebook update, PB.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 7:41 am, Mar 29, 2010 $('#c_total span').html('13'); $('#c_total').show(); Share this comment on Facebook

Thank you. As a first time user, your comment has been submitted for review. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or two for your comment to be reviewed, depending on the time of week and the volume of comments we receive.

Please log in to leave comments.

The Frum Flap

by Christopher BuckleyInfo

Christopher Buckley's books include Supreme Courtship, The White House Mess, Thank You for Smoking, Little Green Men, and Florence of Arabia. He was chief speechwriter for Vice President George H.W. Bush, and is editor-at-large of ForbesLife magazine. His new book is Losing Mum and Pup, a memoir. Buckley's Daily Beast column is the winner of an Online Journalism Award in the category of Online Commentary.

X Close

How to Buy 'Pot' On Amazon

by Kia MakarechiInfo

Kia Makarechi is an intern at The Daily Beast. He is a senior at UCLA, where he is the Senior Viewpoint Columnist for The Daily Bruin.

X Close

The Pope's New Outrage

by Barbie Latza NadeauInfo

Barbie Latza Nadeau, author of the Beast Book Angel Face, about Amanda Knox, has reported from Italy for Newsweek Magazine since 1997. She also writes for CNN Traveller, Budget Travel Magazine and Frommer's.

X Close

Obama Lawyers Split on Detentions

A look at the secret, internal battles.

Suicide Bombers Hit Moscow Subway

At least 35 killed by two female bombers.

FBI Raids Christian Militia Group

Allegedly threatened Islamic orgs.

How Obama Did It

by Peter BeinartInfo

Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, is associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, will be published by HarperCollins in June. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

X Close

How Barack Beat Bibi

by Peter BeinartInfo

Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, is associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, will be published by HarperCollins in June. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

X Close

Democrats, Forever Changed

by Peter BeinartInfo

Peter Beinart, senior political writer for The Daily Beast, is associate professor of journalism and political science at City University of New York and a senior fellow at the New America Foundation. His new book, The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris, will be published by HarperCollins in June. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

X Close The 3-D Porn Revolution Week in Vir

With the passage of health care, Obama has now had his air-traffic controllers’ moment. When Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, it convinced many political observers that the old rules still applied. The country was still basically suspicious of big government, and thus, the only way for a Democratic president to survive was to do what Bill Clinton did after 1994: content himself with incremental change, accept the political parameters that Reagan established, be a Democratic Eisenhower.

View as Single Page 12 Back to Top March 28, 2010 | 10:55pm Facebook | Twitter | Digg | Share | Emails | print var OutbrainPermaLink=document.location.href.replace(document.location.search, '').replace(//d+/$/,'/').replace(document.location.host, 'thedailybeast.com'); var OB_Template = "The Daily Beast"; var OB_demoMode = false; var OBITm = "1255455386150"; var OB_langJS ='http://widgets.outbrain.com/lang_en.js'; if ( typeof(OB_Script)!='undefined' ) OutbrainStart(); else { var OB_Script = true; var str = ''; document.write(str); } Health-care Reform, Democrats, Politics, Ronald Reagan, Republicans, Barack Obama, House Speaker Tip O'neill, Wagner Act, Midterms, East Jerusalem, Air Traffic Controllers, Financial Reform, Dwight Eisenhower, Benjamin Netanyahu, Paul Krugman, Franklin Roosevelt, David Frum, Banks, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton  (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies Sort Up Sort Down sort by date: funkyColdMedina

peter beinartyea verily man! that was a very cogent analysis describing the state of the state let us see what we can see come november...

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 1:54 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dave1959

Obama feared, what a joke. He and his gang started his Presidency with the utmost arrogance and were soon brought down to earth. He has just passed a HCB, big deal, the Dems used the most devious means at their disposal. Pelosi, just before the weekend vote said there would be no more horse trading, what happens, obama makes a deal with Stupak.If this HCB was so great why did they not pass it when they had the majority. The Dems still have the most, in fact all to lose if this HCB starts to go south. This man should take stock of what happened last year. Next time he might not get up !!

Flag It | Permalink | Reply | (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies 3:00 am, Mar 29, 2010 WiltonDiary

Dave1959: 1) The Bill passed the Senate with 60 votes; thats a majority! 2) The Democrats are still the majority party! 3) Democrats control the White House, Senate and Congress; that's the majority.Now: What part don't you understand. The Republicans lost in November and the Democrats won. Until 2012, unless the Republicans can lower their hate range; the Democrats will continue to control the Senate and Congress, as well as the White House.The United States of America is a Democracy!

Flag It | Permalink | Reply | (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies 3:10 am, Mar 29, 2010 dogBreath

wilton diaryi don't know i guess i have to agree with youit appears dave1959 is a dumb ass of political proportions but then so are all the republicans...

Flag It | Permalink 3:40 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dave1959

Wilt and Smelly Breath .. In your own universe I see. Lets see what happens mid-terms.

Flag It | Permalink 4:42 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dreamer4Ever

Yeah, if HCB goes south, it WILL all be on the Democrats.However, first it has to go south. And if it doesn't go south, if it in fact saves lives and makes getting by in America easier, then it is the Democrats, and they alone, who stand to gain.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 3:41 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dreamer4Ever

Finally, the promising candidate is morphing into a president.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply | (–) Show Replies Collapse Replies 3:43 am, Mar 29, 2010 rickgoldin

You got that RIGHT !!!! :) Damn glad to see it.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 6:51 am, Mar 29, 2010 Dimlah

I want to meet the person whose job it is to take a rather balanced article about the hardening of political determination possessed by President Obama and turn it into the headline, "Obama's Mad Power Grab."It's like something out of a Matt Drudge post.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 4:04 am, Mar 29, 2010 stevenstevo

I'm wondering if you realize Reagan's term started in 1981, not 1980. Reagan was signing bills in his sleep from day 1, starting with the oil tax cuts passed 28 days after he took office. Obama has been in office for almost a year longer than Reagan was when he passed the ERTA. And let's not forget that the Democrats controlled the House at the time under Reagan. At the moment, the Democrats currently control all three branches. At this point, Obama and the Democrats have underperformed considerably.Plus, there is a reason Obama had to get his "swagger" back (as factually reported in the NYT)--because he lost it last year after not delivering on a multitude of promises.60% of Americans still oppose the plan, and it's only going to get worse, and sooner rather than later. It will be interesting to watch--I can't wait actually. AT&T reports their health care expenses will increase by $1 billion. Response: Obama has his swagger back. The lunatic stuff was great, but that's already dead. The poll comparing Obama to Hitler? Not so much.Don't give up though. There has to be something--you just have to invent it.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 6:34 am, Mar 29, 2010 rickgoldin

Rock on, my Brother. Trema Kasi for everything you're doing. It's been a real pleasure seeing you wade into just about every topic of concern and actually provide the beginnings of change. Yeah, you can. It may not be the perfect result but we're finally making progress. Don't worry about the folks who can't see why and where you're going. Small people have no concept of change ... they love to wallow in the misery they know. Can't wait to see the next one, Dude. Hehehe Carry on.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 6:50 am, Mar 29, 2010 TruthSpeaksWisdom

I can respect Reagan and both Obama for having to stand on their principles. However the current GOP's position of opposing the Health Care Reform Bill is shallow on many accounts because of their opposing behavior versus their passionate speeches. If you really oppose such a high deficit government run program, then renounce in a statement on the steps of the Congress your own participation in a government paid plan and ; you will seek a private plan. Thus showing your principles are steadfast and then I can could respect that. Also saving the debt, lowering the deficit and this bull of freedom of government run tyranny..Oh also stop accepting donations from these very groups you advocate so passionately for.You see you can look that much better if you did these simple steps.- But- if it is all about enriching your own bank accounts from both the public tax payers and the lobbyist then my view will stand .

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 7:05 am, Mar 29, 2010 WestVillager

Thanks for the Facebook update, PB.

Flag It | Permalink | Reply 7:41 am, Mar 29, 2010 $('#c_total span').html('13'); $('#c_total').show(); Share this comment on Facebook

Thank you. As a first time user, your comment has been submitted for review. It can take anywhere from a few hours to a day or two for your comment to be reviewed, depending on the time of week and the volume of comments we receive.

Please log in to leave comments.

The Frum Flap

by Christopher BuckleyInfo

Christopher Buckley's books include Supreme Courtship, The White House Mess, Thank You for Smoking, Little Green Men, and Florence of Arabia. He was chief speechwriter for Vice President George H.W. Bush, and is editor-at-large of ForbesLife magazine. His new book is Losing Mum and Pup, a memoir. Buckley's Daily Beast column is the winner of an Online Journalism Award in the category of Online Commentary.

X Close

How to Buy 'Pot' On Amazon

by Kia MakarechiInfo

Kia Makarechi is an intern at The Daily Beast. He is a senior at UCLA, where he is the Senior Viewpoint Columnist for The Daily Bruin.

X Close

The Pope's New Outrage

by Barbie Latza NadeauInfo

Barbie Latza Nadeau, author of the Beast Book Angel Face, about Amanda Knox, has reported from Italy for Newsweek Magazine since 1997. She also writes for CNN Traveller, Budget Travel Magazine and Frommer's.

X Close

Read Full Article »

Latest On Twitter

Follow Real Clear Politics

Real Clear Politics Video

More RCP Video Highlights »