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Obama vs. his enemies

Does President Obama still think he can charm his opponents? To save his presidency, he must take them on.

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President Obama’s political predicament is perhaps more serious than he understands or appreciates. He appears to see opponents as rivals to be charmed. What he should see are enemies determined to destroy his presidency. To save the agenda for which he was elected, he must give up the pretense of being a postpartisan professorial president and start acting like an Oval Office tiger. 

He must get tough, not because populist rage polls well, but because his leadership depends on challenging those who challenge him.

Republicans, big bankers, and Wall Street, and the pharmaceutical and health-insurance industries see Mr. Obama as the enemy. They gloat at his legislative setbacks. It is pointless to extend a hand to those who desperately want him to fail. There is nothing Obama can say or do to satisfy Republicans. On Jan. 30, he went to a GOP conference to enlist their support to be “partners for progress.” Does he really think Republicans want to be his partners?

In his brilliant book, “Shakespeare: The Thinker,” the late Oxford scholar A.D. Nuttall notes, “It is sometimes said that political leaders require a ‘demonised Other’ to retain control of their citizens. If the people are to be ruled they must first be scared.” Nuttall cites the example of England’s King Henry V needing a war with France to control insurrectionists at home.

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