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In his new column, “Obama’s Long Game,” Gene Lyons suggests that making Republicans act insane may actually be part of President Obama’s plan:

If anything, Obama’s GOP political rivals have gone even further off the deep end. Mitt Romney has this passage in his stump speech where he all but accuses the president of being a communist.

“President Obama,” Romney insists, “believes that government should create equal outcomes. In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing—the government.”

This when the multimillionaire Wall Street investment banker isn’t accusing hecklers of envying his wealth—rarely a successful political tactic, in my experience.

“This is nuts, Glenn Beck–level insane,” writes New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait. “Restoring Clinton-era taxes is not a plan to equalize outcomes, or even close. It’s not even a plan to stop rising inequality. Obama’s America will continue to be the most unequal society in the advanced world—only slightly less so.”

So is it possible that driving Republicans crazy is Obama’s deepest political strategy of all? His key to re-election in 2012? In Newsweek, Andrew Sullivan argues that’s precisely the case: that having inherited an economy in near-catastrophic free-fall—losing jobs at a rate of 750,000 a month in early 2009—problems he knew couldn’t be fixed overnight, President Obama has been playing a “long game” all along.

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