I’m working up a head of steam to do a long comment on "Obama at 200" (days, that is, since there was so much written about the magical FDR-like first 100 days Obama enjoyed), but here’s one large theme that is taking shape in my mind. Bush ran aground in his quest to reform Social Security with private accounts, despite a serious blitz for it in his second term. Private accounts are the Holy Grail for certain types of conservatives. But the political alignment of the planets against it is too powerful to overcome, as FDR intended.
The liberal Holy Grail ever since FDR has been national health insurance. But it appears on a knife edge right now, and may soon prove to be the liberal equivalent of Social Security reform--compelling in the abstract, impossible in practice. In other words, these two grand objectives of Right and Left may simply not be possible no matter how large the partisan majority in Congress--an unappreciated symmetry of the two poles in American politics today. (What about the obvious compromise?--Ed. Interesting question: no one anywhere has even raised the possibility in an op-ed.) Stay tuned: the next three months are going to be fascinating for students of politics (and citizens, too).