Third, Obama has surrendered his main political appeal to religious voters from the last election — his embrace of faith-based social service providers. Any attempt to repeat this outreach will seem absurdly disconnected from reality.
Fourth, with a single miscalculation, Obama has managed to unite economic and social conservatives in outrage against government activism and energize religious conservatives in a way Mitt Romney could never manage. Culture war debates in America are evenly divided. But the objects of culture war aggression do not easily forget.
If Obama is playing a political chess game, he has just sacrificed his queen, a rook and all his bishops. It would have to be a deep game indeed.
Michael Gerson's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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