Our president is either the most wishy-washy, compromise-prone, spineless leader ever to sell out to his political adversaries, or he is the most draconian, iron-fisted socialist tyrant ever to ruin this country in 90 days. Your opinion will depend on whether you write analysis for the New York Times or spend your time at those tea party rallies where people are denied the right to dump a gazillion pounds of Lipton on the steps of the Treasury.
But wait a minute! Maybe this isn't an either-or situation. Perhaps our new president, ever a man to reconcile opposing views and find common ground between the most mortal of enemies, is in fact both a compulsive compromiser and a stealth fascist. He's just biding his time, lulling Congressional Republicans into complacency by agreeing not to prosecute CIA agents accused of torture or to renew the assault weapons ban that expired five years ago.
And once he holds Republicans firmly in his clutches -- something that, admittedly, may take some doing, if the extremely lopsided vote on the stimulus bill is any indication -- he will somehow magically force these conservatives to vote for tax increases. He will probably force through a Constitutional amendment making gay marriage mandatory, just for fun.
The thing to remember about President Obama is that he's never as strong as when he's on the ropes. Numerous times in last year's presidential campaign he looked like he would be crushed by bad news, whether it was about Reverend Wright or his "presumption" for visiting Europe, and every time he came back a little stronger.
So everybody who thinks he might have already wasted his political capital -- either on compromises with Republicans and conservative Democrats, or on reckless fiscal interventionism -- should probably reconsider. Anybody who's equally infuriating to both the left and the right is probably making people in the center pretty happy.