"The sequestration impasse is so obviously the Republicans' fault," says Timothy Noah at The New Republic, that the Washington punditocracy, "which can't abide an obvious and unchanging story line, is trying hard to invent a new one that blames President Obama." And in a way, it is Obama's fault — albeit obliquely. Right now, the only issue that unites the GOP is solid opposition to new taxes, but that is no more sustainable than its other troublesome tendencies: "Being the anti-immigration party isn't working. Being the anti-gay-marriage party isn't working." But they "can't become 1950s-style 'modern Republicans' right now because that's what the Democrats are!" That's terrible for everyone. For tactical, not ideological reasons, Obama has to stop impersonating Dwight Eisenhower and "start impersonating Franklin Roosevelt or the pre-Vietnam-escalation Lyndon Johnson":
It is, to be sure, a tricky calculus. The center is a pretty comfy place to be. The more Democrats dominate the center, the better their electoral prospects will remain. The more they shift leftward, the less certain these will be. But the governing imperative runs in the opposite direction. The more Democrats dominate the center, the worse their governing prospects will be, because the opposition they try to bargain with will by definition lie outside the center. If Democrats shift leftward, their governing prospects will improve because Republicans will shift leftward, too. Then compromise with Republicans will produce acceptably centrist results.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How Ronald Reagan turned America into a nation of children
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- The crusade against Iraq War supporters has forgotten someone: Hillary Clinton
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- 8 things the world's most extraordinary survivors can teach you about resilience
- This week I learned the moon might be littered with dinosaur fossils, and more
- Why scientists can't kill HIV
- How to make classic pulled pork
Subscribe to the Week