Indications multiply that those who hoped Barack Obama and the resurgent Democratic Party would calm down and govern "to the center" are about to face a rude awakening.
On the campaign trail, candidate Obama -- whose legislative record showed him to be an ardent backer of gun control -- toned down his hoplophobia, vowing in soothing tones that he would "not take away" Americans' firearms. Yet his just-announced choice for attorney general, Eric Holder, earlier this year signed an amicus brief in the court case District of Columbia vs. Heller, supporting the District's ban on the use of any firearm for self-defense in the home -- as Barack Obama himself supported that patently unconstitutional measure.
As deputy attorney general, the gun-rights stances of Mr. Holder made Janet Reno look like Annie Oakley.
The man now tapped to become our next attorney general advocated federal licensing of American handgun owners, a three-day waiting period on handgun sales, and rationing handgun sales to no more than one per month -- for starters.
Not to be outdone in this race to the radical left, congressional Democrats responded in kind Thursday, dumping Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, and replacing him with Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.
The secret ballot among members of the Democratic caucus -- the kind of ballot congressional Democrats hope to soon take away from American workers threatened with unionization -- swung 137-122 to depart from the chamber's usual seniority system.
Rep. Dingell, 82, is hardly a free-market zealot. Nonetheless, he represents greater Detroit and is seen as a champion of the auto business. Skeptical of massive steps to cripple the economy in pursuit of the chimera of "global warming," he has slowed or blocked action on stricter vehicle emissions standards, fuel-economy improvements and other initiatives to accelerate the "green" destruction of the domestic auto industry.
Rep. Waxman, on the other hand, represents not constituents who manufacture a product made of steel, but rather a town that manufactures dreams.
And it shows.
"Whether you agree with him or not, Chairman Dingell has long been respected as an insightful, reasonable and pragmatic legislator," said Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a pro-business research group. "These are not qualities for which Mr. Waxman is known."
Mr. Pyle said that Rep. Waxman probably would bring "sweeping changes" to the committee's focus, "which isn't good news if you're in the business of American energy or other kinds of free-market commerce."
By contrast, environmentalists hailed Rep. Waxman's promotion.
"It's a whole new day for the environment," cheers Dan Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign, an environmental advocacy group. "The committee through which all major environmental legislation has to pass has gone from someone hostile to environmental protection to a real champion."
Rep. Waxman's selection "will put him at the center of efforts to advance President-elect Barack Obama's proposals to curb global warming, develop alternative fuels and expand health insurance coverage," his hometown Los Angeles Times enthused on Friday.
Rep. Waxman will not maintain a low profile -- he never has. Even when his bailiwick was limited to the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he did not hesitate to bask in the camera lights as he hauled everyone from hedge-fund managers to steroid-using baseball players to former spy Valerie Plame through his committee room to testify at high-profile hearings.
"Waxman's election suggests that Congress will tackle climate-change legislation next year," the L.A. Times noted. "Waxman, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate committee on the environment, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have called for tough new limits on emissions from power plants, factories and other pollution sources."
By "pollution," of course, the Times refers primarily to the non-toxic gas carbon dioxide -- the stuff Rep. Waxman and his constituents produce when they exhale.
Because the new state religion of Environmentalism says we must stop burning coal, oil, and natural gas -- never mind the effect on our economy -- lest we all end up frying like bacon on a griddle.
Think those edicts in which our regal rulers wave their magic wands and declare what percentage of our power "must" be generated by windmills and solar panels were already a bit presumptuous?
Think your energy bills were already a tad high?
Hold on, folks. You voted for "change." And you ain't seen nothin' yet.