The hot-stove league in national politics is in a tizzy about whether President Obama will move to the center in the next two years. Most in Washington say he will because he must.
I say he won't because he can't. You have to be a centrist to really move to the center, and if the last two years prove anything, it is that Obama's definitely not a centrist.
The yes-he-will crowd has concluded that GOP control of the House forces Obama to make compromises. They point to the income-tax deal that kept rates fixed for two years, even though Obama pledged to raise rates on families earning above $250,000.
In truth, he had no choice. Because Republicans were united and Dems divided, he could either go along with the deal or risk a tax hike on everyone. The risk wasn't worth the fight.
But few other issues have such immediate consequences, so Obama will be able to pick and choose and use the bully pulpit to declare victory when it suits him. As he said himself, he is "itchin' for a fight" with the GOP, which is music to the liberal wing of his party.
Of course, rhetorically, he will sometimes suggest he's a centrist, as he did in the 2008 campaign, but that will be just for show.
His re-election depends on getting just enough independents to believe he's a centrist while letting lefties know he's still with them. In other words, he has to fool some of the people all the time.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column on additional topics, click here.