"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 academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Dick Cheney's America is an ugly place
- The Hobbit: A disappointing set of movies, but a worthy set of prequels
- America is building a Sunni army in Iraq to take on the Islamic State
- The age of miracles is over — even for the religious
- How to make the ultimate grilled cheese
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The liberation of Barack Obama
- What the media gets wrong about Jeb Bush
Subscribe to the Week