'Republicans underestimate him at their peril'

by Dave Weigel

Charles Krauthammer tells it like it is:

The net effect of 18 months of Obamaism will be to undo much of Reaganism. Both presidencies were highly ideological, grandly ambitious and often underappreciated by their own side. In his early years, Reagan was bitterly attacked from his right. (Typical Washington Post headline: "For Reagan and the New Right, the Honeymoon Is Over" -- and that was six months into his presidency!) Obama is attacked from his left for insufficient zeal on gay rights, immigration reform, closing Guantanamo -- the list is long. The critics don't understand the big picture. Obama's transformational agenda is a play in two acts.

There's a popular spin among conservatives now that portrays Obama as a new Jimmy Carter. Just as an incompetent Carter made the Reagan revolution possible, Obama will fill the next Congress with Rand Pauls and Marco Rubios and make possible the ascent of the most conservative president ever -- possibly one named Sarah. But if we've learned anything in the past two years, it's that even overpowering ideological control of Congress has its limits. A GOP Senate caucus of 40 members, the lowest since the 1970s, stopped card check. How exactly does a Democratic caucus of 52 (in 2011) or 45 (in 2013) members, in the best case scenarios for Republicans, fail to block a repeal of health care reform?