On the eve of the president's inauguration, I wrote a piece about what President Obama needs to do to be a transformational rather than caretaker president. I was using a very specific definition of transformational presidencies based on my reading of a theory of political science and the president's own words about transformational presidencies from the 2008 campaign. It was also based on these givens: the president is ambitious, has picked politically controversial goals, has little time to operate before he is dubbed a lame-duck president, and has written off working with Republicans. "Bloodier-minded when it comes to beating Republicans," is how Jodi Kantor put it in the New York Times. Given these facts, there is only one logical conclusion for a president who wants to transform American politics: he must take on Republicans--aggressively.
For me, this was a math problem with an unmistakable conclusion. Some people thought I was giving the president my personal advice. No. My goal was to make a compelling argument based on the facts. I used words like "war" and "pulverize," and some have responded with threats to me and my family. ("Go for his throat!" some have counseled, echoing the headline.) These words have also liberated some correspondents (USUALLY THE ONES THAT TYPE IN ALL CAPS!!!!) from reading the piece or reading it in the spirit in which it was written. But there were also almost 2,000 other words in the piece, which should put that provocative language in context. What's been lost in the news ticker and Twitter threats is the argument of the piece: This is the only plausible path for a bold, game-changing second term for a president who has positioned himself the way President Obama has. Indeed, the piece accurately anticipated the forceful line the president ultimately took in his inaugural address with his call for collective action and failure to reach out to Republicans. Brit Hume said Obama's speech confirms for all time the president's essential liberalism. The New Republic's Noam Scheiber precisely identifiedthe speech not merely as liberal but an argument for liberalism.
Poor baby; they questioned your insincerity? I'd have a little respect for you if you owned to your role as a cheerleader.