This is an excerpt from Executive Insight Briefing, produced every Thursday by the National Journal’s Daily Briefings Team.
In evident agreement with Mitt Romney that it is time for the general election to begin, President Obama this week acted more like a candidate than he has since 2008.
The climax came on Tuesday when Obama, in a stem-winder to a convention of newspaper editors in Washington, excoriated the Republican-led House budget as “thinly veiled social Darwinism” and “a Trojan horse.” He mocked Romney’s description of the document as “marvelous,” poking fun at his GOP rival’s diction, of a piece with the Obama campaign’s efforts to depict Romney as a bit odd.
Also of note was Obama’s preemptive strike against the Supreme Court, whose potential ruling against his health care law has unnerved Democrats. He tried to flip the tables on Republicans, arguing during a Rose Garden press conference that overturning the 2010 law would represent “judicial activism,” a conservative hobgoblin.
“I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law,” Obama said. “Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.”
With major legislation unlikely to move in Congress before the election, and Romney’s sweep on Tuesday night further dispelling residual doubts about his inevitability, Obama’s campaign rhetoric will only grow more frequent – and sharper.
He has a willing adversary in Romney, whose virtual burial this week of the remaining aspirations of chief rival Rick Santorum liberates him to channel his energies into the general election. This week will likely be viewed through history’s lens as the start of that contest.