Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Call it what it is!

Yesterday, I tried to make the case that no matter what President Obama had done in these negotiations about the debt ceiling, we would have ended up at the same place we are today. My other point was that therefore, the White House strategy has been to ensure that the President is able to demonstrate to the American people that he is willing to compromise and govern while the Republicans are not.

This morning I see that both Ezra Klein and p m carpenter are saying pretty much the same thing.

Here's Klein:

Whenever I try to run out the logic of Obama simply refusing to allow Republicans to take the debt ceiling hostage, I end up with us approximately where we are now, but Obama’s numbers are lower, the GOP’s numbers are higher, a number of congressional Democrats have broken ranks, and Washington elites are firmly arrayed against the White House. It’s not a line of reasoning that leads to a better outcome for Democrats.

This issue is playing out essentially as you would expect given the basic power imbalance at its heart: Many elected members of the GOP really are willing to let Treasury exhaust its borrowing authority. Very few elected Democrats can say the same. For that reason, Republicans always had the leverage on this issue, and in that world, Democrats could never have credibly refused to deal. You can ask whether Obama should have offered as much as he has, but I think that’s a more marginal question given that the GOP has rejected everything he’s proposed.

And here's carpenter:

Not since Abe Lincoln took office has a president's political opposition been so ruthlessly determined to oppose -- even to the point of national disloyalty, which is precisely what the GOP's treacherous machinations over the debt limit represent. It is futile to look back on Obama's first two years and speculate that he should have done this, or that he should have done that, and then this or that might have proceeded better; it is futile because whatever path Obama might have chosen, his opposition was acrobatically hellbent on obstructing it.

If Obama is to be properly faulted, then his fault lies in the rather incongruent criticism of excessive rationality. No one, least of all a chief executive of profound intellect and with a corresponding belief in the great and unifying power of Reason, could have predicted in January 2009 that the spiritually broken Grand Old Party would redouble its preceding madness, and then double that, and double even that again. No one could have predicted the right's absolutely surreal hypocrisy on debt and spending, its Obama-as-Hitler posters, its "death panel" frenzies and its birther lunacy and its Socialist Dictator! dementias. Neither could anyone have predicted the activist left's infantile behavior and ceaseless crankiness.

No one could have, and no one did.

Yet now we encounter the magnificent bounty of hindsight. And it's pointless. Because the right was always determined to sabotage Obama's presidency -- if "unusually extreme and intransigent" methods... proved insufficient, then what the hell; economic treason might do the trick -- and with each passing day, it doubles down on its determination.

Again ... not since Lincoln.

This is the big picture take on what is going on. And its imperative that all Americans - regardless of party affiliation - recognize it. That's because we are ultimately the only ones who can stop it. This is, after all, still a democracy. And when the people give power to the traitors, this is the result. Its time we sent these f*ckers home and elected some actual representatives to the House of Representatives.


  1. Just curious, but that post from Klein also concludes that Obama and the Dems made a huge blunder by not including the debt ceiling as part of the 2010 tax deal. I'm not entirely convinced this was an obvious error, but it's an idea that's gaining a lot of traction.

    First, it's hard to know what exactly was achievable in the moment, but I suspect the range of policy items in the offering typically included things that one side or another actually wanted to get done -- and the debt ceiling is unpopular. Plus, if negotiators back in 2010 were really focused on speed in order to get to DADT, START, and 9/11 responders, then the debt ceiling compromise would have seemed strange to add when they had months to get it done.

    That's not my understanding of how legislators typically work. In short, everyone armchair quarterbacking is tempted to find fault in how we got here, but I'm just not convinced there's a single satisfying explanation except for Republicans united behind nothing but failure.

  2. Another explination would be that other than Lawrence O'Donnell, many of these people don't have a clue of what they're talking about.


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