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Keller @ Large: Getting Tougher Might Not Be A Good Idea

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(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – I hung out for awhile Monday with a group of true-blue Obama supporters in the heart of the bluest city in America at Cambridge City Hall, where they had a TV-watching party for the inaugural festivities.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

And I asked some of the nice folks I met there what they wanted to see from the president as he begins his second term.

Without exception, they all wanted him to get tougher with the Republicans, whom they saw as the irredeemable villains responsible for his failure to meet their expectations for the first term.

That is unsurprising, and perfectly understandable. That is how partisans think. If you are a Mitt Romney supporter and your man had won, wouldn’t you be exhorting him to crack down on those liberal Democrats you love to hate?

Unfortunately, bulldozing the opposition is hard to sustain.

Naturally, the president has been flexing his muscles since his strong showing on Election Day, forcing the Republicans to yield on the fiscal cliff tax hikes and agree to a temporary lifting of the debt ceiling without any concessions. If he sees political disarray on the other side, he’d be negligent not to press his advantage.

But it won’t be quite so easy to blow off any serious talk of entitlement reform, as the president did in his address Monday.

If the economy doesn’t perk up, a lot of what he says he wants to do will be sidelined, just as the big carbon-emissions bill the critics called “the largest tax hike in history” died in 2010 from bi-partisan disinterest.

As the Washington Post political reporter Dan Balz writes, “the election did not significantly resolve many of the differences that were at the heart of the campaign. The president won a mandate, but has been warned by some advisers not to over-interpret its meaning.”

Believe it – every Democrat in Congress up for re-election in 2014 is hearing that same warning. The president may not have to worry about running again, but they do.

So while “getting tougher” may be a feel-good wish, it’s also wishful thinking.

Unless four more years of gridlock is the legacy this president wants.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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