No matter the problem, the answer for Tom Friedman is always “more leadership!”:
Yes, the G.O.P. has tried to stymie Obama; it’s been highly destructive. But the people who keep pointing that out don’t have an answer for the simplest next question: Why have they gotten away with it?
My view: It’s because too many Americans in the center-left/center-right do not feel in their guts that Obama is leading — is offering an economic plan at the scale of the problem that has a chance for bipartisan support and that makes them want to get up out of their chairs and do battle.
If Obama were generating more visceral appreciation for his leadership among “centrists,” I’m not sure how that would have disrupted the Republicans’ remarkable party discipline, eliminated the filibuster in the Senate, or altered Republican support for a political strategy of rejectionism. After all, that strategy has provided the GOP with one political victory after another and a new House majority. More to the point, even if Obama “rallied the center” and got them “out of their chairs,” it wouldn’t have any effect on the structural and procedural reasons that opposition obstructionism has been successful.
Obama has already been governing as an accommodating “centrist,” and Friedman’s unchanging prescription is that Obama should be even more egregiously “centrist” by embracing fiscal policies that are deeply unpopular in both parties and among independents. In reality, the “center” wouldn’t respond favorably to a “tough-minded-but-centrist plan,” because the non-ideological voters that make up the political center don’t share most of the preoccupations of professional “centrist” pundits.