If it is true that we are "at Obama’s mercy," as Peter Lawler suggests in passing along the report that a famous teacher of political philosophy made this claim to him, then perhaps there is a bright side to dwelling in that "mercy." Bret Stephens suggests that after about a year’s time, American liberals will have no more excuses for their failures. Perhaps. But politics is always more complicated than either scenario--the mercy or the "no excuses"--suggests. So there certainly will be more to Obama’s "mercy" than good-natured good will and there will also be more to it than mere Machiavellian maneuvering. I do not believe that he can play pure offense for very long--though I suspect that he knows this. I expect, at some point, to see a serious push back from conservatives and also to see some bristling stemming from the dissatisfaction of liberals who believe to their core that this is "their time."
The danger for Obama will not be that these true believers could become disenchanted with their liberalism and grow ripe for conservative picking. They will find more excuses--even where there are none. But given the vast numbers of tangential Obama supporters, recent converts, sentimental hangers-on, and socially pressured supporters I think there is plenty of raw material within the Obama ranks with which clever conservatives can begin to build a case using the "no excuses" meme as a starting point. The bright side--if we can really call it a bright side (because there will be consequences to this that are far from bright)--is that Liberalism unbound will fail. The open question is whether Obama is smart enough to know this (I think he is) and then clever enough to be able to bind it up without seeming to do so. One year probably will tell.