Charles Krauthammer writes:

Democrats, if they wish, can write off their Massachusetts humiliation to high unemployment, to Coakley or, the current favorite among sophisticates, to generalized anger. That implies an inchoate, unthinking lashing-out at whoever happens to be in power — even at your liberal betters who are forcing on you an agenda that you can’t even see is in your own interest.

Democrats must so rationalize, otherwise they must take democracy seriously, and ask themselves: If the people really don’t want it, could they possibly have a point?

There is, it seems, a divide developing between Democrats inclined to so rationalize and those who are panicking. The panickers are the realists, the congressmen and senators on the ballot in November or in 2012 who never quite accepted the invitation to throw caution to the wind for the sake of a “historical achievement.” The rationalizers are gathered at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue spinning furiously. “How could we have been wrong? We’re not wrong! This is about the economy. The voters will get over this!”

One has to think that when the cameras finally depart the White House (they do leave sometime, right?) and there’s no one left to beguile, Obama will look over his first year in office and understand that he’s accomplished virtually nothing (other than sacrificing some congressional allies, losing two gubernatorial races, taking over a couple of car companies, appointing a mediocre Supreme Court justice, running up the debt, and racking up a foreign-policy record rivaled only by Jimmy Carter) with the largest congressional majority in decades. He must see his influence diminishing daily and wonder if this is really it — the last chance to do something, anything.

If he’s reflective enough to sense there is failure looming, he has two choices: roll the dice and go for broke on some health-care scheme (however slimmed down it must be), or leave health care by the wayside, as Bill Clinton did, and go do something else with his presidency. He could, after all, successfully prosecute the war against Islamic fascism, work on economic recovery, or get serious about real education reform. We’ll find out which he prefers. Or maybe, as with his entire domestic agenda to date, the scene will be set for him by Congress. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and their troops could collectively make the decision whether to throw in the towel on ObamaCare. Maybe they already have, as they deliver the news piecemeal (no delay on seating Brown, no House vote on the Senate bill).

Finally it might be time for Obama to seize the reins of his own presidency and set the course he wants. It might be time to stop delegating his domestic agenda to Pelosi and Reid, who’ve managed to bollix up their signature issue and lose the critical 60th Senate vote along the way. Obama could tell them precisely what he wants. Unless, of course, he doesn’t know what he wants and just can’t get beyond the notion that the country no longer falls at his feet. As he said of the Middle East specifically, being president is “really hard.” A lot harder than campaigning.

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