"Elections have consequences ... and I won." Remember when President Barack Obama delivered that smackdown to then-House Republican Whip Eric Cantor in January 2009? Remember the tired metaphor about Obama taking away the car keys from the reckless conservatives who had crashed the the economy in a ditch. Obama's campaign staffers are hoping you don't remember. In fact, they're betting the election on it.
Three and a half years after Obama swept into office with a to-do list that gleeful reporters compared to the New Deal, the president's allies are all too anxious to hand responsibility for the state of the economy back over to conservatives. Gone from major speeches are nearly all references to the stimulus and health care reform law. Instead, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has taken to describing the Obama era as "the economic policy of Republican dreams."
While the conventional wisdom says that Obama needs to recapture the yes-we-can spirit of his early days in office, I argue just the opposite in my new column at Forbes. As Obama complains about Republican obstructionism, he must hope that Americans have forgotten the days when he enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. The president, who strode beside Greek columns four years ago at his convention, must now stoop to ask his fellow citizens for a second term by advertising the fecklessness of his first term. Change, indeed.