Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Fierce Urgency of Whatever

President Obama is spitting mad at the people who worked and fought to put him into office because he keeps betraying them and they keep noticing. Those are my words; these are some of his:

[I]f that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting conditions or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out ... [emphasis mine]
Uh, yea, people will not be thrown off their health insurance due to preexisting conditions in 2014, two years into the next president's administration -- if, that is, the law in question does not get repealed, amended, de-funded, administratively gutted, or otherwise whittled out of existence before then. And, yes, those people on unemployment will not see their lifeline run out -- for another 13 months, or in other words, until January 2012, when presidential tracking polls will be trumpeted on a half-hourly basis. That sounds like a promising time in which to schedule a reprise of this same fight.

According to the president, the people who put him in office are too unreasonable, sanctimonious, and self-satisfied to understand his wise tactics given the terrible, terrible stakes:
[President Obama]: Well, let me use a couple of analogies. I've said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed.
Hmm. He was willing to freeze the pay of all federal workers a few days ago -- apparently they aren't part of the American people, or freezing their pay is not harmful, or maybe he announced the pay freeze against his own will. As a despicable liberal, ensconced in my own self-righteousness and purity, I can't be bothered to tell which of those is true -- I just don't understand.

Ever the patient school marm, he sighed an exasperated sigh and tried more explaining:
[Reporter]: If I may follow, aren't you telegraphing, though, a negotiating strategy of how the Republicans can beat you in negotiations all the way through the next year because they can just stick to their guns, stay united, be unwilling to budge -- to use your words -- and force you to capitulate?

[President Obama]: I don't think so. And the reason is because this is a very unique circumstance. This is a situation in which tens of millions of people would be directly damaged and immediately damaged, and at a time when the economy is just about to recover.
A very unique circumstance? In 2001, the Bush tax cuts went into effect alongside a provision to expire at the end of 2010. This "unique circumstance" of an expiring tax cut is over nine years old -- a period that includes every single minute Barack Obama has occupied the White House. This "unique circumstance" of tax policy has been sitting out on the horizon with all the subtlety of a scheduled invasive rectal exam.

Still, there you have it, for what good it does you: President Obama will stand on firm principle unless and until questions of federal government policy stand to affect the lives of millions, whereupon he'll surrender. On policies having limited effects on relatively few people, we can count on him.


Sean G said...

First off, I could not agree more with your opening line. Very well said. I seem to recall during the campaign that he charged us with reminding him of his promises, and keeping him in line. Now he's chastising us for doing so.

Secondly, the q/a from the press conference where he suggested that the Republicans wouldn't hold leverage of his administration was awful to watch. Can he not see how the Republicans have learned that all they have to do is say "We will stop any bill from coming up until you do what we want!" and Obama will eventually do what they want? This isn't the first time, but it's certainly the most visible... and the Republicans have shown that they are more than willing to take it to the next level.

I fear the 10's will be a dark decade for our country, hopefully the 20's will see some relief.

Dale said...

Thanks, Sean. I want to call Obama naive, but at some point it's hard to say what it is. He just can't or won't understand the nature of the people aligned against him. They're playing for keeps; he's playing to make everyone happy.

Sean G said...

I keep having to remind myself that the President used to be a Constitutional professor. The man certainly has a higher understanding of the science of economics, and considering his success he has to also understand politics. His current actions sure don't make it seem that way.