- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 24, 2011

I’d rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president.

- President Obama, in a Jan. 25, 2010, interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer

How that ultimately plays out would appear to depend, as another Democratic president once said in a different context, on what the meaning of the words “really good” is. What we know beyond dispute, however, after Mr. Obama’s decision Wednesday to disregard unilaterally his executive duty to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) against legal challenges, is that he is the most radical leftist president this country has ever had.

And as for that “one-term president” thing: Be careful, Mr. President, what you wish for, because you might just get it.

It also is increasingly clear that Mr. Obama has learned nothing from the “shellacking” his party took in the midterm elections, despite all the talk to the contrary from his sycophants in the media about his “moving to the center.”

The pretense of a move to the center is, and always was, just that - pretense - his window-dressing appointment of William Daley as chief of staff and a supposed rapprochement with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce notwithstanding.

Just as I predicted that Sen. Jim Webb, Virginia Democrat, would not seek a second term weeks before he announced that decision, I sense that Mr. Obama increasingly realizes that his prospects for winning re-election are slipping away and he therefore is determined to ram through as much of his far-left vision for America as possible during his one term (or as one wag put it, Jimmy Carter’s second term).

Why else would he make the calculated decision not to defend DOMA, a law duly enacted by Congress and signed into law by a fellow Democratic president? Mr. Obama variously claims to be against gay marriage, even as he says his views on the subject are “evolving,” but this decision rips the mask off that charade. He knows his opposition to DOMA, while it might send a thrill up the collective leg of the editorial board of The New York Times, is contrary to the expressed wishes of the electorate: Thirty states have voted on gay marriage, and all 30 have voted against it. What part of “no” does Mr. Obama not understand?

The DOMA decision is, however, fully consistent with his ominous campaign vow, made shortly before his election in November 2008: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

Midway through his term, Mr. Obama has made good on that promise with his takeover of the health care, automobile and student-loan industries; repeal of the ban on gays in the military; and an $821 billion economic stimulus to nowhere, to cite just a few examples. His proposed budgets for fiscal 2012 and beyond would lock in trillion-dollar-plus annual deficits for years to come and bankrupt the country. His appointments and nominees have ranged in ideological diversity from liberal (Hilda L. Solis, Elena Kagan, Eric H. Holder Jr.) to far-left fringe (Van Jones, Kevin Jennings, Goodwin Liu). He contends that oil is an energy source of the past, but he has yet to park Air Force One until it can be retrofitted with windmills and solar panels. The most frequent visitors to the Obama White House have been Big Labor bosses, first Andy Stern, recently of the Service Employees International Union, and now Richard L. Trumka of the AFL-CIO, and we know it’s not just to shoot hoops.

President Clinton - while also a liberal who similarly sought to nationalize health care and lift the ban on gays in the military - was at the same time a political realist. His move to the center after the Democrats’ electoral shellacking of 1994 - as exemplified by his signing of welfare reform and working with congressional Republicans to balance the budget - was a de facto, if grudging, recognition that America is a center-right nation, and it enabled him to win re-election.

By contrast, Mr. Obama’s supposed move to the center, such as it is, is a feint and a head fake, which no one should take seriously, least of all anyone who aspires to be the Republican nominee for president in 2012. Given Mr. Obama’s first-term agenda to date, one has to ask: How long after he is sworn in to a second term in January 2013 and freed from any further need to be concerned with re-election would he maintain that facade of centrism? My guess is, until just after he lifts his hand off the Bible.

Peter Parisi is an editor at The Washington Times.