The year 2012 looms large in the mind of Barack Obama. After two years of decline in the number of those who view his policies, his performance, and his personality favorably, Barack Obama has begun yet another process of reinvention on the road to reelection.
Will he succeed in bamboozling voters once again?
The policy shifts following the November shellacking the Democrats received from voters are clear.
Foremost among these shifts to the center is the tax deal reached with the Republicans. There will be others to come, as renewed attention is devoted to transforming the tax code itself to make it simpler and fairer. There will be more feints to the center.
Barack Obama will adapt even more, altering his image so he can again appeal to the great center of American voters: the jackpot that every candidate must win to enter the White House. Will Obama be able to connect with voters, as every politician must, on a personal level?
Conservatives should not count Obama out yet. He may be cold-blooded, but he is a chameleon who can change the way people perceive him.
Indeed, he has already begun to do so. The premiere of Obama 2.0 took place in Tucson, where his speech was warmly received and a new, more emotional Obama was on display (the voicecracking brings to mind the lip-chewing of a thoughtful Bill Clinton). And the road show has only just commenced.
A clue to Obama’s ability and willingness to adapt can be found in the words of his book Dreams from My Father. There he mentioned only one book, Malcolm X’s autobiography, and wrote that Malcolm X’s “repeated acts of self-creation spoke to me.” Therein lies the clue to Obama’s plan to rebrand his own image. A man who can fake a Southern accent, the story of how his father came to America, and the story of his parents’ being inspired by the Civil Rights march in Selma to conceive him has no problem morphing for political purposes.
We are about to watch the extreme makeover of Barack Obama in real time.