In today's Wall Street Journal, Steven Rattner has a very revealing op-ed (the full piece is only available to subscribers). Arguing that "Wall Street Still Doesn't Get it," he quotes the President's comment to a group of bankers that "my administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks." I take that to be the Obama way. H e did the same in the health care deal. If memory serves, Obama made deals with drug companies and the AMA very early in the process. I gather that, until recently, he was working the same angle with BP on cap and trade. (BP has extensive natural gas reserves which could make the company a good deal of money, if the bill is structured in a particular way). I suspect he's doing the same with Israel just now. Thanks to the cartel-breaking dust-up, he has more leverage than he had recently. (He tried to use the recent housing permit incident similarly).
The President, in other words, practices classic Chicago politics. He uses popular anger to threaten the big guys, and then cuts a deal with them for half. The intended result--the big guys are happy that they did not get killed, and the common people are happy that they took a hit. (In the mean time, the smaller players are creamed. The big guys can take the hit, and then profit from the reduced competition).
This corporatist approach is not all that new, but Obama is trying to expand its scope. It is probably the inevitable direction that bigger government will take in America.
I suspect the part of Obama's anger at the tea parties is that they gum up the works of his pragmatic, moderate, corporatism. They show that there are other ways of seeing it. There are people who don't want such cartelization. When Obama says he's no socialist, he's being sincere. He wants to use the market to serve what he takes to be public goods that otherwise would be ignored. A big, diiverse economy, with players of all sizes makes that more difficult. It is much easier to use the private sector when it's limited to fewer, bigger companies. The tea parties, in this sence, represent the ancient American prejudice in favor of mediating institutions. Their principles reflect that idea.