We know which Barack Obama won reelection Tuesday night.
The question is: which one woke up and went to work Wednesday morning?
Was it the passive Obama who, after winning a stirring, historic victory in 2008, allowed the insurgent tea party to inaccurately redefine his affordable health care plan as a government takeover?
Was it the conciliatory Obama who chose not to use his considerable rhetorical skills to rally the country against intransigent Republicans and Wall Street CEOs who opposed even the most modest attempts to use government to rein in Wall Street excess?
Was it the detached Obama of the first presidential debate October 3 who bizarrely said that he and the Republican candidate Mitt Romney agreed in their approach to Social Security?
Or was it the other Obama, the one whose 2012 campaign struck early and often against Mitt Romney, branding him as an out of touch plutocrat, while defining the president as the staunch defender of the threatened middle class?
As Mark Weisbrot of the Center For Economic and Polcy Research points out, Obama and his team carefully shaped a populist message for the 2012 campaign that was much more specific than the 2008 message of hope and change, and it was tailored specifically to win blue-collar votes in the swing states that decided the election.
Will the president continue to embrace that message or abandon it now that he’s won the election?
Which is just another way of saying that the fight for President Obama’s soul continues.
The current battlefield is the drama over the $7 trillion fiscal cliff and the “grand bargain.” As portrayed in the media, if Congress and the president can’t come up with a combination of budget cuts and revenue to cut the budget, Congress has agreed to impose a set of draconian budget cuts.
At the heart of the dispute is the continuation of the Bush cuts and the payroll tax holiday, the extension of unemployment benefits, and a variety of defense and other cuts. Some congressional leaders from both parties are pushing for a “grand bargain” to avoid the cliff – and they want to include cuts to Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
President Obama may have wavered on protecting Social Security, but Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader and 28 other senators have not. They’ve signed a pledge to avoid cuts to Social Security as part of any deficit reduction package.
Which makes complete sense since Social Security doesn’t add a single dime to the deficit.
Have your senators signed the pledge? If they have, call them and thank them, and suggest they add Medicare and Medicaid. If they haven’t, urge them to sign. The more senators that sign the pledge, the better it will be for our president’s soul.