This is basically what happened:
President Barack Obama wanted Congress to pass a variety of trade-related proposals, and he didn’t want to have to rely on Republican votes in order to see that happen. He lobbied his fellow Democrats in favor of trade, and he lobbied them hard. In the end, it wasn’t enough. On Friday, the president endured a stern censure from the very members of the party for whom he once served as a savior. Barack Obama’s presidency is all but over. It’s Hillary Clinton’s party now, but she does not seem inclined to lead it so much as to emerge as its supervisor by default and through a process of attrition. She is not in a hurry to rush that process, and there is no alternative Democratic leader waiting in the wings. Inadvertently, what House Democrats did on Friday was to decapitate their own party.
…and it’s important largely because it means that the President is going to be more and more constrained in his activities for the next year. Not because Barack Obama understands his limitations any better; because everyone else around him will. If I was a federal bureaucrat right now I’d be taking a cold, clear-headed look at whatever directive from President Obama comes down the pike, and asking myself: what is this guy’s successor going to think about this? – Because the next President is going to be somebody who ran for office on a platform of hacking back the regulatory state, and whether or not you believe that can happen the next President will still at least be able to lop the tops off the most egregiously tall stalks. Which is still bad news, if you’re one of those stalks.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: There are many, many people out there who assume that there will never be another Republican President, and that there certainly will not be one in 2017. And at least some of those people do so because then they don’t have to worry about the painful, messy, and often frustrating realities of governing. I politely suggest that those people, at least, start taking seriously the possibility that the Republicans will win the next election, because the people who take that possibility seriously are going to be the people most assured of being listened to by the Republican party leadership. There’s a classic political text that presents an argument along these lines; I wish that more people would read it.