My former colleague Kim Strassel provides an excellent summary of the Obama administration’s hope and change bare-knuckle politics, complete with quotes from “The Untouchables.”
What makes these efforts notable is that they are not the lashing out of a frustrated political operation. They are calculated campaigns, designed to create bogeymen, to divide the opposition, to frighten players into compliance. The White House sees a once-in-a-generation opportunity on health care and climate. It is obsessed with winning these near-term battles, and will take no prisoners. It knows that CEOs are easily intimidated and (Fox News ratings aside) it is getting some of its way. Besides, roughing up conservatives gives the liberal blogosphere something to write about besides Guantanamo.
Victory on these issues, if it comes, will exact a heavy price over the next three years. And if it doesn’t come? The list of those injured along the way — Republicans but also moderate Democrats, corporations but also some labor unions (check out the CWA’s strong objections to one of the key “pay fors” in the Baucus health bill) — may leave this administration looking as isolated as its predecessor did.