President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.
This opposition cannot be appeased. Some pundits claim that Mr. Obama has polarized the country by following too liberal an agenda. But the truth is that the attacks on the president have no relationship to anything he is actually doing or proposing.
The goal of government-can't-help conservatives is simply to deny Obama the possibility of any legislative accomplishment, no matter how much the country might need it. The tools they have to achieve this end include the remains of the Republican Party apparatus, a slice of voters who have been activated by fear and anger in a way that enlightened self-interest has failed to do, and a mainstream political media willing to call Al Gore a liar when he wasn't, but unwilling to call Sarah Palin and Chuck Grassley liars when they are.
Obama may soon be presented with these options, listed here in order of increasing likelihood that he'll be a one-term president:
1. Ignore Congressional Republicans and push through something that actually deserves to be called "health care reform."
2. Continue to chase the ghost of bipartisan compromise and pass something Democrats can call "reform" but which will do little or nothing to fix spiraling costs, the absence of dependable coverage for many Americans, and the worst of insurance company practices.
3. Fail to get even fig leaf legislation passed through Congress.
Wonder which option he'll go for. It's scary that, even at this late date, the answer isn't clear.