Monday, November 17, 2014

Obama Doubles Down

Double, double, toil and trouble

Fire burns and cauldron bubbles.

Shakespeare (1564-1616), Macbeth

Better never trouble Trouble

Until Trouble troubles you;

For you may make your trouble

Double Trouble when you do.

David Keppel (1899-1939), American poet, Trouble

President Obama has returned from his Asia trip in a defiant and combative mood after his party’s crushing election defeat.

He vows to take a sharp turn to the left. He will poke a stick in the Republicans’ eyes, poison the well, and wave red flags in front of the GOP bull.

He threatens to do this by:

• vetoing the Keystone XL pipeline if it passes;

• issuing an immigration decree giving amnesty to six million illegal immigrants;

• fighting ObamaCare changes, replacement, or repeal with a veto;

• touting his climate change agreement with China and continuing to regulate coal mining and other carbon-emitting industries;

• making a deal with Iran allowing them to continue their uranium enrichment program and letting up on sanctions;

• regulating the Internet under the guise of “net neutraility” and an obscure 1934 Title II law.

It’s an ambitious agenda that invites open confrontation, law suits over executive authority and constitutional overreaching, impeachment proceedings, and shutting down the government.

This approach to governing is being dubbed “doubling down.” This term comes from the gambling game of Blackjack, where, when your\ are in trouble, you double your wager. In the world of finance, stock investing, and politics, “doubling down” has come to mean engaging in risky behavior when you are in a dangerous or desperate situation.

Doubling down is not new to Obama. He and his team employed a doubling down strategy in the 2012 presidential campaign, as described by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann in their 2012 bestseller Double Down: Game Changege. And doubling down was a tactic social organizing exprt Saul Alinsky set forth in his book Rules for Radicals. Alinsky's double down rule read: “Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never give the reeling organization (in this case Republicans) time to rest, regroup, or re-structure.”

Doubling down just might work. Obama may think he has no other choice, given the magnitude of his midterm defeat. Republicans are perceived to be disorganized and uncertain as to what to do with the feisty President. They don’t want to shut down government. They know impeachment is out of the quearion. And they don’t have the numbers to override a Presidential veto except perhaps for the Keystone XL Pipeline and the excise tax on medical innovation companies. On ObamaCare the favored strategy at the moment seems to be systematic defunding of health exchanges and chipping away at the individual and employer mandates.

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