Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 8, 2010

WHEN A CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD HAS A BETTER TARGET.... So, let me get this straight. The White House is angry with congressional Dems and an under-appreciative base; congressional Dems are angry with the White House; and the base is angry with everyone.

It's presumptuous, but might I recommend a Democratic cease-fire?

In candor, I was just writing up an item about who's right, and to what extent, in the argument between Dem leaders on the Hill and the White House over who's to blame in the mess over taxes. Given all the evidence, I think the criticism of President Obama on this is excessive and misplaced, and that congressional Dems were badly mistaken, and totally abandoned any sense of leverage, when they chose not to act before the midterms. They inadvertently created the conditions that led to the deal they dislike.

But you know what? It doesn't matter. I don't think anyone really wants to read that post anyway. Covering Democrats attacking Democrats, ad nauseum, is easy, but it's also getting tiresome. Perhaps the conversation needs a detour.

I noticed Chris Hayes said something interesting this morning (translated from Twittereese): "For what it's worth, I have a lot more rage at the GOP for how the tax debate played out than the White House. Republicans really did use the unemployed as hostages. It's disgusting."

That's both right and important. I don't want to speak for Chris, but his sentiment is straightforward: the tax agreement is hardly ideal, and Dems didn't handle it well, but the real frustration is with Republicans.

John Cole, riffing off this morning's Plan B post, had some related thoughts on the subject:

I simply cannot express how much it infuriates me that [Republicans] are holding all this important legislation hostage for tax cuts for the super-rich. Despite the hissy fit about the small portion of Obama's presser yesterday in which he chided his critics ... most of his presser was about the Republican perfidy and how he has to make the best out of this bullshit the Republicans are causing. Let's always remember who the problem is here.

I know how the game works. A party's base is expected to make demands of party leaders, urging them, as strongly and as often as possible, not to stray from principles and ideals. When those leaders do feel the need to make concessions, it's the base's job to demand better. That's why the base exists. If a party's activists went around saying, "We're fine with compromise, because we understand the importance of incremental progress," they'd quickly lose all influence.

Having said that, Republicans aren't just being wildly irresponsible, they're opening themselves up to some potentially devastating criticism. We're talking about a party that is literally refusing to do anything other than fight tooth and nail to protect unpopular tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, at the expense of middle-class families. These cuts, as President Obama put it yesterday, represent the GOP's "holy grail," prioritized above all -- so much so that they've become "hostage takers," a provocative line that happens to be true.

It is, in other words, a unique opportunity to attack the Republican brand in ways that could weaken the party in advance of the next Congress.

But Dems aren't making that attack, because they're busy going after one another.

Steve Benen 2:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (81)

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Excellent! (Now we can read 50 posts on how Ob could handle the R menace better).

Posted by: KK on December 8, 2010 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

As much as I'd like to believe Democrats aren't attacking Republicans because they're busy fighting amongst themselves, the evidence for this idea is nonexistent. We talk constantly about the inadequacy of messaging/media machine. We complain equally about the MSM and the weird rules they have favoring the right. And we suffer with smoldering rage the obnoxious false equivalency suggests any degree of right-wing extremism is ALWAYS balanced by an equal degree of left-wing extremism.

We can't win this war, true. So why assume that we're going to win it this time? It might help if we had a president who used his bully pulpit but I guess that's just me being sanctimonious.

Posted by: walt on December 8, 2010 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

"Having said that, Republicans aren't just being wildly irresponsible, they're opening themselves up to some potentially devastating criticism."

That is if Obama and the Dems can capitalize on it, and they won't. Obama would be a great president in a perfect world but as someone who voted for him I can honestly say I wish Hillary had won. When you give into the demands of the hostage takers all you do is encourage hostage taking. The only reason Republican's hold positions on bills like the Tax bill, the START bill and DADT, at odds with the a vast majority of the electorate is because they know they'll get away with it. And they will.

Posted by: David Swan on December 8, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans aren't just being wildly irresponsible, they're opening themselves up to some potentially devastating criticism. We're talking about a party that is literally refusing to do anything other than fight tooth and nail to protect unpopular tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, at the expense of middle-class families

I don't see that the Republicans are paying any price for their obstructionism. I wish they were.

Posted by: gaardvark on December 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

You really do not understand. No one is attacking the GOP because they won. They are not holding up unemployment insurance, nor are they denying the middle class extension of Dumbya's tax cuts. Whether he was dealt a difficult hand by Congressional Dems or not, Obama negotiated with the terrorists and gave them everything they wanted and then some in return for the GOP doing a few of the "right things" Game set match to the GOP

Posted by: Terry on December 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

I understand the sentiment, but I have come to the conclusion that the reason Democrats aren't attacking republicans isn't because they are busy attacking each other, it's because they don't know how, and when to attack republicans. in fact, given the fecklessness of what constitutes the democratic leadership in the senate, and to some lesser extent the house, i'd say democrats are exactly right in attacking the ones responsible for missed opportunities, abject political cowardice, and appalling tone-deafness to the prevailing and expressed interests of their constituents- themselves.

Posted by: bruce on December 8, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

The way this should have played out: the Democrats and Obama should have demanded that the Republicans extend unemployment insurance, not in exchange for something, but because it's the right thing to do. The next step would be to go to the home states of Republican senators in purple or blue states, up for election in 2012, go on TV with real people who won't be able to put food on the table, and hammer them until enough are picked off to vote for it. Quote heavily from "A Christmas Carol", and paint the Republican as Scrooge. Obama could go on local TV and get all the airtime he wants, they love that stuff. It was political malpractice by both Obama and Reid for the Republicans to be allowed to pull this crap.

Olympia Snowe's up in 2012. So is Scott Brown in MA. Could they really afford to stand firm with the leadership? They may fear primary challenges, but how could they win the general election in blue states?

Posted by: Joe Buck on December 8, 2010 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen wrote: "A party's base is expected to make demands of party leaders, urging them, as strongly and as often as possible, not to stray from principles and ideals."

Yeah, yeah, yeah -- we've heard all about how the Democratic base are a bunch of "sanctimonious purists" who only care about abstract "principles and ideals" and have no clue about what it takes to actually get something done.

Except that in reality, much of the complaint from the Democratic base is that Obama and the Senate Democrats have not been actually getting much done, and what little they have accomplished to make things a little better as a practical matter has come at the cost of agreeing to Republican demands that make things MUCH WORSE as a practical matter.

It's not about "idealists" rejecting pragmatism on "principle". It's about people rejecting so-called "pragmatism" that isn't getting results.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 8, 2010 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

I agree 100% with what Steve says. But Dems are never going to win on this until they learn how to communicate to the public more effectively. That goes from the president on down. It's the only thing Republicans are good at -- controlling the message. Of course, they have an entire cable network to do GOP bidding, and the Dems don't.

Still, maybe the White House and congressional Dems may have learned something about the importance of touting victories and accomplishments and staying on message.

What am I saying? These are Democrats. Nah.

Posted by: Molly Weasley on December 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Obama did attack the Republicans, rather strongly, just yesterday. Funny how a great many didn't hear it.

Posted by: hildebrand on December 8, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dems have to bitch about this deal, or the Rs will not vote for it and we'll be stuck with nothing.

If the Dems had bitched about "medicare for all," Lieberman would have let it go through.

Rs only want to protect the rich and piss of Dems.

Posted by: No -- Look at History on December 8, 2010 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Hey Dems? STFU and vote.

Posted by: SYSPROG on December 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

You can't on one hand describe accurately in my opinion what the Republican are doing as hostage taking and then turn around and give Mitch McConnel and the Orange Man a blow job because that's what it took to save the hostages for 13 months (until they do it all over again). It just doesn't work that way. If these people are really that bad then you have to start treating them that way. You have to start fighting. Not rolling the fuck over. And in a fight it is true that people are going to get hurt. But you know what? If you don't stop kissing ass and start fighting it is just going to get worse. It will never end. It has only come to this because we have been presenting our rosy red ass to these people for the past two years.

Posted by: SW on December 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

PS -- The Rs never open themselves up to "devastating criticism." The Ds have no guts, and the "librul" media: IOKIYAR!

Posted by: PS on December 8, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. You guys are all so smart.

I don't pretend to know enough about the policy and/or political implications that were considered on this issue, because I wasn't there, haven't looked at all the documentation/graphs/charts, and had a chance to consider the implications, both long and short term. The President did. And this is the result.

I continue to be impressed by President Obama, and his "egoless governance". Think about it. Yes, he got pissed off. And, none of that dictates his actions. I see him accepting what IS, and then acting for the highest good. I continue to support him, and the way he governs.

Posted by: kathleen on December 8, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

What is the Republican plan B after they get the tax cuts for millionaires? Once they get, what is their bargaining chip? me thinks that the GOP is SOL once the tax break is passed.

Posted by: GKunz on December 8, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Two questions--If the repugs's "Holy Grail" is tax cuts for the top 2%, what may I ask is the Dems "Holy Grail"????????????? What do they really, really stand for??????????

Posted by: Chris on December 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

I continue to be impressed by President Obama, and his "egoless governance". Think about it. Yes, he got pissed off. And, none of that dictates his actions. I see him accepting what IS, and then acting for the highest good. I continue to support him, and the way he governs.

Yeah, me, too, Kathleen.

Posted by: sue on December 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

It took almost a year to get health care, mainly because the Senate and the lack of leadership of Obama and now the WH blames the House for the tax fiasco? Please. If a sitting president negotiates with the minority party and keeps the leadership of the people's house totally in the dark on major policy decisions (SSA alteration, FED freeze, estate tax change, etc.) one should expect the House to accept the provisions blindly? The tax cut and deficit reduction issues affect Democratic party politicians in the worse possible way- essentially making the GOP the tax cut party and the Democrats the increased deficit party. Major deals take time, I doubt this plan is an exception. I think Obama has been a fine president but I have no idea what he is thinking. He looks like a man with no conviction, a pol would jeopardize his future hitching himself to that wagon. He also feels like he is "owed" on ACA- personally speaking I give more credit to Harry Reid (feint praise). I say start from scratch.

Posted by: Raoul on December 8, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The result of Obama's capitulation to the rethugnicans is that the millionares and billionares keep their hundreds of thousands in Bush's tax give-aways and that working individual's with incomes under $20K and working families with incomes under $40K end up paying more taxes.

The result of Obama's capitulation to the rethugnicans is that our national debt continues to expand and the rethugnican goal of eliminating social program spending is advanced.

The result of Obama's capitulation to the rethugnicans is that social security is placed in greater stress and will provide increased opportunities for the rethugs to advance their goal of destroying it.

The result of Obama's capitulation to the rethugnicans is that what little good there is to this compromise will require the good faith of the congressional rethugs to fund next year, let alone for following years.

Call me a pissed off progressive for believing that not showing leadership in fighting for what is right for the working people of America is a betrayal.

Call me whatever you want, but I will never support this Obomination of proposed tax legislation.

Call me whatever you want, but I will NOT have any enthusiasm for supporting Obama in 2012.

Benen, call me whatever you want, but don't call on me to join your 'Whatever Obama does is super, duper fantastic' and 'Obama is doing the best he can' clubs.

Posted by: AngryOldVet on December 8, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I think I pointed out that the real villians in this story are the Republican hostage takers. I talk to a lot of people outside the little left echo chamber. Don't let people here fool you. Obama's hostage taker line hasn't gone unnoticed or unappreciated. A whole lot of people have looked at the deal and realize the Congressional Republicans were willing to distroy anything to get the tax cuts for the rich. I hear Fox is melting down over the comment right now. It is why DeMint wants to kill the deal. We need to hang low on this right now until the deal is done, but then we should use the Republican hypocracy 24/7/365 for the next two years.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

In Monty Python's Life of Brian, the People's Front of Judea met the Coalition for a Free Galilee under Pilate's palace, and started fighting each other. Brian tried to get them to stop:

Brian: We shouldn't be fighting amongst ourselves, we should be united against the common enemy!

All: The Judean People's Front!

Brian: No, no, no, the Romans!

All: (mutter that he's right)

Where do we get our Graham Chapman?

Posted by: Jim H on December 8, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not only that, they just undercut their entire argument on a balanced budget and spending grandchildren's money.

They just handed over over 150 billion of your children's future to a bunch of millionaires and billionaires for the most part as bribery for their support in the next election.

Shorter Republicans: elect us rich folks and we'll make sure we continue to pile on your good fortune onto the backs of the unborn.

Posted by: mikefromArlington on December 8, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"I don't see that the Republicans are paying any price for their obstructionism. I wish they were."

They don't have too . They have their own TEE VEE network that convinces the Rubes that Tax breaks to millionaires will really really help them. Why because we told you so and have we ever lied to you before? Please buy some gold bullion while you're here and have a nice day.

Posted by: John R on December 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I believe there is one good thing that has come out of this. It seems like the non-Fox News media has stopped even pretending that the Republicans have a responsible position on this issue.

Even if Obama has to use the left as utopians living in candyland he's still set up a dynamic where he's the only one in the room that is even thinking about actual "governance". The fact Obama compared the GOP to hostage takers and nobody blinked is a good sign that the media MIGHT stop pretending Republicans are anything other than an interest group solely out for the rich.

Posted by: Archon on December 8, 2010 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

Two thoughts- I lost a lot of respect for Republicans when the never questioned their leader amid their lies, distortions and bad policy choices, I certainly hope us democrats do not become pliant sheeps.

The stimulus effect of the bill is nil- essentially the same amount as before but without any actual stimulus- the last stimulus failed to live up to its predictions because to much money was placed on tax cuts; now we are doubling on a proven failed policy? (Not to mention 10 years of reduce tax rates which did a lot of damage to the economy)

Posted by: Raoul on December 8, 2010 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans aren't just being wildly irresponsible, they're opening themselves up to some potentially devastating criticism. We're talking about a party that is literally refusing to do anything other than fight tooth and nail to protect unpopular tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, at the expense of middle-class families"
They're on track to take the white House and Senate back in 2012, so obviously what they're doing resonates across enough of the voting spectrum. How many times do we have to hear this and say all the Democrats have to do is stand back and watch the Republicans implode. Well folks they're not about to implode. Like it or not, theirs is the dominant agenda of the nation. We're a conservative nation.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 8, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

"But Dems aren't making that attack [on Republicans], because they're busy going after one another."

I hear you Steve, and I agree 100 percent. I'm holding my fire--for now.

However, if Senate Dems don't radically reform the filibuster, Senate holds, and other archaic Senate rules NEXT month, then they're complicit. That's a fact!

Posted by: Chris on December 8, 2010 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

gdb, Don't get me wrong, I don't think Obama handled it all that well, but given the quality of Democratic leadership in the Senate he probably did as well as he could given the December 31, 2010, deadline.

Where Obama really helped himself was in the presser yesterday. We are all pissed off over his comments about the left, but his comments about the Republicans were both brutal and true. Of course the AP and the rest of the right wing hate and corporate media ran with the comments about the left. Why not, when you think about it, given the example of the piss poor Democratic leadership in the Senate I am sure a lot of reporters thought we on the left would bow our heads and cry. A lot of people I have talked to have watched both, and are really sympathetic to the President. He might have just won his reelection if he can get nominated.

We ought to all be pissed at the Democratic party and the pathetic failures we have elected to congress. Too bad we don't have an organized hardworking political party.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Do ANY of the Obama haters on this blog know anyone who is unemployed?

It makes me really angry when I read these Naderites yearning for the unfettered expression of their ideological purity. So what if the unemployed lose their benefits and poor families lose the Earned Income Tax Credit. At least the Republicans will look bad!!

Posted by: JD on December 8, 2010 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

@Jim H 3:29 pm

He has a wife, you know...

Posted by: Katie on December 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

Please, repeat:
"hostage taker",
"take hostages"
"Republicans take hostages",
in print, on T.V., radio, the web, social media, or in any other forum that is available.
It's the best line to come out of the debate, and deserves to be repeated again and again. If the Rs had a line like that, they'd sound like broken records.

Posted by: John McConnaughy on December 8, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

SaintZak @ 3:38 says:
Like it or not, theirs [GOP] is the dominant agenda of the nation. We're a conservative nation.

No. Americans favor a progressive tax structure, abortion rights, repeal of DADT, Social Security, and Medicare by wide margins. The problem is that the GOP obfuscate and BS and beat their chests and lie, lie, lie, and Democrats won't call them on their crap and won't push an affirmative agenda.

George Lakoff put his finger on the problem, but his solution was more of the same, but with different words. Go back to the fighting progressivism of the '30's and you'll get people's attention and their votes.

Posted by: scott_m on December 8, 2010 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

The tax mess has gotten me thinking the unthinkable; we have a shellacked president.

Yes, he still sounds good, but the gloss is only that.

I have no way of proving my suspicions, but what's transpired since early November leads me to conclude that there are widening divisions in the Democratic Party.

These divisions will only get worse.

Hearing Obama "lash out" led me to think that perhaps he is starting to be shunned by his own party.

I know this is hard to hear, but his extending the Bush Era Tax-cuts (taken hostage) leads me to fundamentally conclude that his presidential skills are not what I voted for. I think Rachel Maddow got it right, he's making the presidency irrelevant (egoless or not).

Something is not right. Do folks in DC know something that we don't know?

Stay tuned.

Further more....doesn't he ultimately benefit personally from those obscene tax-cuts being extended for the next two years?

Man I hate to think what I'm thinking, having never before spoken harsh words of the current POTUS.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 8, 2010 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

I expect nothing less from the Republicans.

What I didn't expect is for Obama to undermine efforts of his own party and do everything he could to not pass a public option and handle this tax cut issue months or even years ago.

It should have never came down to this.

Posted by: Shark on December 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

"But Dems aren't making that attack, because..."

Dems have been screaming about this shit for five months. and, really, for the past ten years since the Bush tax cuts were enacted.

what's it got us?

nothing but speeches.

Posted by: cleek on December 8, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Obama is a weak man and a weak President. Liberals would do well to accept that and move on. Find some worthy primary candidates, pick the best, and run a liberal alternative. Win or lose, there is no down-side to standing up to the failed Obama administration.

At best, we replace Obama with a liberal Democrat. At worst, we send the message that there is a liberal alternative within the Democratic Party.

Posted by: square1 on December 8, 2010 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

@kathleen - right on! Here's to radical realism and muscular pragmatism!

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on December 8, 2010 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

It's really unfortunate that Obama characterized R's as the hostage takers and talked about "tax cuts for the rich" etc. in the context of defending himself against the left, but it's about time he used this sort of rhetoric. Part of Obamaness has been to be vague (just like Hope and Change were vague) and sanding off the corners of everything he says to the point where it means nothing to the hoi polloi.

When we complain about Obama not using the bully pulpit, I think we are talking about using understandable metaphor etc. fueled by emotional conviction to communicate. If only he had shown this side more often, and aimed directly at the real perps.

Posted by: emjayay on December 8, 2010 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I think Susan Collins is very dumb, very purely dumb. Too bad she's in charge of our government.

Posted by: T2 on December 8, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

JD: you have been presented a false choice which is what the GOP wants you to think. Yes I know several unemployed individuals and I help them- I think UI should be extended indefinitely as long as the rate is over 8.5%. That does not mean I have to violate my core principles. If the bill included an invasion of Iran or outlawing abortion, I would still need to support it because of UI extension? Well the slow destruction of SSA, estate tax capitulation and tax cuts for the wealthy are core issues. We need to decouple the issues and we do not UI will be the least important issue among the list.

Posted by: Raoul on December 8, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans took hostages because they knew it would work. They knew the Dems would blink. They Dems were outplayed again. Republicans are good at this - Dems control the White House, the House and the Senate, and they still lost!

Posted by: realv on December 8, 2010 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

This deal is still middle of the rode piracy for the wealthy! The continued failed tax break give-away stimulus bonanza not sounding like a sound idea makes me a sanctimonious purist or somehow otherwise deluded? I don't think so. I am not at all thrilled with our President or our party. I think that is completely justified; they're supposed to stand up to the other guy! But, hey.. let’s make them feel better by stifling our principles and kicking the costs down the road for an even more reckless group of individuals to ignore! For some reason, I personally can't get excited about that, sorry..

Posted by: Trollop on December 8, 2010 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry Steve, but I'm not ready to make nice and sing Kumbaya with the Democratic Villagers yet.

I've been watching the same horseshit for 30 years, and frankly I'm sick of it. I'm not putting up with it anymore. I'm not taking any more for "the team" (i.e. the risk-averse incumbents and their entourages). Fuck all that. I'm over it.

Been there. Done that. DOES NOT WORK.

It's always, "I'll gladly give you 2 hamburgers tomorrow for a hamburger today." Well, fuck you Obama and all you other insider Democrats. You're getting no more burgers from me until you do something for me first.

I want Democrats who stand up and fight for principles. Don't tell me you can't do it. The Republicans do it and you can too.

That's what I want and I will accept nothing less.

Posted by: The Fool on December 8, 2010 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

We thought we knew who Obama was. We were wrong. In part, its a result of our need to believe that his powerful words would be matched by equivalent action. In part, its the result of a talented politian displaying his skills. Regardless, its painful to see what is under the goss. Politics sucks.

Posted by: steve on December 8, 2010 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen: "The White House is angry with congressional Dems and an under-appreciative base; congressional Dems are angry with the White House; and the base is angry with everyone."

People, people, can't we all just get along? Why we gotta be hatin' on each other, when there's an entire Republican party to be hatin' on instead?

Posted by: JGabriel on December 8, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK


You are right. It is downright crappy when a major political party can freely engage in piracty. Now show me better Democrats and and fewer Republicans.

Right now the Democratic caucus is chock full of corporate lackies who have long forgotten the noble reasons they wanted to run for Congress in the first place. There don't seem to be many high quality people pushing the entrenched incumbents and party functionaries.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

1. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, but I don't remember the press conference where Our Peerless Leader Who Has Never Even Once Screwed The Pooch urged Congress, in pointed, scalding language, to vote on the cuts before the midterms.

I remember hearing that he really wished the Republicans wouldn't hold the middle class hostage because it wasn't at all nice. But the sort of direct, forceful communication of the last 48 hours was lacking. (Until after the election, when we were told that the White House had wanted it done.)

2. Democrats would have to be crazy-- absolutely nuts-- to throw any red-meat rhetoric around. Every time they've done it to date, it's prompted a stern lecture from St. Barry the Bipartisan about how that kind of language doesn't help solve anything and it's exactly the sort of thing that God called him to Washington to end.

I understand that he wants to triangulate, but there's no reason that anyone in either house of the legislature is obligated to make that task easy for him at this point.

After two years of punking the people who they're supposed to be allied with, the White House has run out of friends willing to help them. They're not going to fix that with more obloquy.

3. Yes, John Boehner is an evil bastard (or a scared old man who has been placed at the head of a collection of whackos, if you prefer).

But the problem is a guy who, after two years in office, is still clueless enough to say:

"Look, here’s my expectation -- and I’ll take John Boehner at his word -- that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse.... My expectation is, is that we will have tough negotiations around the budget, but that ultimately we can arrive at a position that is keeping the government open."

I'm sure he can arrive at a position-- the problem is that it will involve him bending at the waist and holding his ankles.

3. The differences between this Democratic President and the preceding Democratic President are not substantial. They both put Rahm Emanuel in a position of power. Neither worked effectively with Congress. They both made a mess of a health care bill. (one didn't get a bill passed; the other passed one that will never go into effect.)

But when President Horndog found himself in a similar situation in 1994, he knew exactly how to handle it. He let Newt Gingrich throw his bomb, and watched the wingnuts take the collateral damage. And, after that, he had the advantage.

There have been several chances to do something like that, and they've all been punted. If I were in the wingnut leadership, I wouldn't even sonsider negotiating at this point-- all the evidence says they can get whatever they like.

It's really sad when I watch a presidential press conference and Chuck Todd comes off as the smartest politician in the room.

Posted by: Woodrow L. Goode, IV on December 8, 2010 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck principles. I want Democrats who stand up for people. Like, I dunno, maybe people who really need their unemployment extended. This isn't a fucking morality play, it's actual people's actual lives.

Posted by: Dan on December 8, 2010 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

I viewed Bush's tax cuts during 2 wars as bribes/trinkets to get re-elected. Somehow it doesn't really feel any different when Obama does it. Of course, Bush didn't spend 2 1/2 years telling people that he would ensure the tax cuts for people with incomes over 250K would not be extended.

While we are trying to put lipstick on this pig of a "stimulus" and shift blame from Obama, what about the unemployed for 99 weeks or more. I guess since they'll be homeless soon and their voter registration addresses won't match anymore, they can't hurt Obama's chances in 2012.

Posted by: tko on December 8, 2010 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

What's infuriating the base - time and time again - goes beyond just the chiding Obama deemed necessary to give us yesterday. It goes beyond this "not even good enough to be 'good enough'" deal. And it goes beyond our frustration with the Republican Party (I find it insulting to think that I can't walk and chew gum at the same time; I can be pissed both at Obama AND the Republican party...AND Congressional Democrats while I'm at it).

Whats infuriating was that Obama was warned this was coming before he ever took the oath of office. Republican leadership both real (Limbaugh and Fox News) and imagined (you know, the ones in Congress) made it very clear that there would be no compromising with Obama, that even if they were offered everything they wanted, they would assassinate his character, filibuster bills, hold up judicial nominees, bring the entire nation's business to a standstill, in a prolonged temper tantrum that they lost in 2008. They may as well have picked America up like a football and went home: "If we can't play with America like we want to, then NOBODY can play." And the reason Obama found himself in the position he was in yesterday was because neither he nor the Dems in Congress ever did anything to turn that around. Never got as nasty as we needed to get. Never went out and told the American public exactly what was going on with the record breaking filibusters. Dems relied on a traditional media that was more interested in making the midterms and 2012 as much of a horse race with a popular President as they could. They alienated bloggers, and they gutted grassroots fundraising. Sure, not every American wanted to know what was going on, our capacity to ignore the movie theater when it's actually on fire because we're too busy being distracted by the movie knows no bounds. But they never really tried. With few exceptions - politicians like Pelosi & Franken & Weiner, pundits like Stewart/Colbert & Olbermann/Maddow - no stink was ever made. As sick as we all are over the Charlie Brown/football analogy, it is still incredibly apt. Obama put working with Republicans, instead of using his bully pulpit to tell America who was holding up progress and the blood money they hoped to extract from their boorish behavior. And this kept happening again and again. And again and again, Obama decided to keep some sort of high-road mentality. Until when? he was forced to sacrifice the principles that got him elected, whether it was selling out the public option, hedging on Gitmo, running away from DADT to let Congress duke it out, and now, amongst other failures in judgment, this awful tax deal.

Look, Obama was a Senator, he knows how many of the Dems in Congress are spineless pussies. He should have known he was going to have to work extra hard to keep their spines stiff and their course clear. Instead, he allowed their cowardice, and the Republicans' bullying, to weaken his spine and cloud his judgment.

We're not just mad because of where he was yesterday. We're made because things never, ever, should've gotten so bad that such a deal was necessary. And yet, here we all are.

Posted by: slappy magoo on December 8, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

@JD on December 8, 2010 at 3:42 PM - It makes me really angry when I read these Naderites yearning for the unfettered expression of their ideological purity. So what if the unemployed lose their benefits and poor families lose the Earned Income Tax Credit.

I think pretty much everyone on this blog cares about the unemployed and their families. But we're in the position of someone who sees a baby carriage in the road and a runaway passenger train, at the same time. Someone is going to get badly hurt and we must choose between saving one baby or hundreds of passengers. That's one of the reasons for the anger and frustration, the GOP's malevolence combined with Dem incompetence has forced us into a no-win situation.

I hate to sacrifice the baby but if the GOP-corporate-uberwealthy locomotive isn't stopped soon, I fear we will see something worse than the early 1930's. This time around we won't have the manufacturing base to resurrect in a global market thatcan undercut us at every step. 9% unemployment? Terrible. But consider 40% or higher unemployment...with a treasury pillaged and depleted to the point that it can do absolutely nothing to relieve the suffering.

Think that could never happen? Read about Argentina and its economic meltdown of 2000. Look on youtube, there's probably still video of the armored trucks stretching over a mile on 9 de Julio (Buenos Aires grand boulevard) as they hustled billions of cash and gold out of the country the night before the banks were shuttered.

I call it a dress rehearsal for what the ultra-rich hope for in the U.S. The only chance to stop it is NOW.

Posted by: GringoNoraca on December 8, 2010 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Tom Harkin made the argument about Republican hostage-taking on Washington Journal this morning, bless his heart.

Posted by: 2laneIA on December 8, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I see we have here a lot of the sanctimonious purists the president was talking about. It only took a few thousand of the very same sort voting for Ralph Nader in 2000 to get us into the mess that Obama is still trying to get us out of. "That's what I want and I will accept nothing less" is a tantrum, not a position. It sucks that this deal has to exist--the estate-tax portion, I think, could have been negotiated to something less odious--but it's better than the alternative. Not the fairyland-dream alternative, the real-world alternative.

It strikes me that the people who are so disappointed in the president weren't listening during the campaign, or were willfully mishearing him. He campaigned as a pragmatist, throughout--and it wasn't a ploy. He really believes in getting things done in the world as it is, things that will indeed move us closer to the world as we'd like it to be. That world can't be wished into existence, no matter how much backbone you have or how many lines you draw in the sand. It has to be worked into existence, through the messy and often disappointing political process. But I hope you guys feel really good about your 2012 super-progressive primary challenger. Maybe you can get us another George W. Bush!

Posted by: Vineyarder on December 8, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

In direct response to Benen's post, I do not understand what is "tiresome" about either engaging in or reporting on inter-party battling.

We aren't talking about petty squabbling or personal score-settling. We are talking about fundamental ideological differences within the Democratic party -- between the Third Way Democrats and liberal Democrats. In virtually any other democracy in the world, most of which have multi-party political systems, Third-Way Democrats and liberals would be in separate parties. Their fights would be the logical fights of political opponents. And it would be absurd to characterize their political battles as a "circular firing squad."

The term "circular firing squad" refers to groups of people who share similar values and goals but who sabotage those shared goals through self-destructive petty squabbling. The term does not accurately describe battles between Keynesian liberals and non-Keynesian Third-Way Democrats who have largely mutually exclusive goals and values.

Liberals like me will call a "cease fire" when, and only when, Third-Way Democrats stop pushing for trickle-down economics, the abolition of the social safety net, and unrestrained corporatism.

IOW, when they stop raiding the Treasury and trashing the economy, I'll stop shooting.

Posted by: square1 on December 8, 2010 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

I have to say the last couple of days I have been proud to be a Democrat. For the first time in a very long time Democrats are talking about what they stand for and what they can't stand. The differences between Democrats and Republicans have been open for all to see and the Democrats have come away looking good. The fight over the compromise boils down to protecting the victims of Republican villiany or fighting the good fight with people who fundamentally hate a whole lot of Americans. Bravo Democrats, we are noble, mad as hell and right now we are fighting to do the right thing. Win lose or draw, it sure as hell beats the Republican alternative, fighting over the scraps left over as the billionares feast.

Right now I am proud to be a liberal.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe I spelled "rode" instead of "road". I guess I'm a purist at heart..

Posted by: Stupid Trollop on December 8, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

Slappy Magoo is basically correct. I would also add that Obama made a massive blunder in essentially promising to end partisan squabbling rather simply promising to extend a hand to the GOP in good faith.

Obama literally gave an incentive to the GOP to oppose him because Obama's promise meant that Obama would get blamed for GOP obstructionism. "Hey, Obama. Why is the GOP filibustering everything? You promised to unite everyone."

Posted by: square1 on December 8, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Stupid Trollop, spell checking is for people who don't have anything better to do or editors. Right now you are fighting hard for your beliefs. Forget about it.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 8, 2010 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

AMEn Steve. Let's just calm down and set an agenda for moving forward. Let's set a short medium and long term agenda that xe can focus on accomplishing that xe can be happy with and we can focus this passion and energy on the actual people standing in the way.

Posted by: allamr18 on December 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

The Republicans didn't take any hostages, they didn't have to. They just had to get Obama to believe they would and he folded.

Posted by: dualdiagnosis on December 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, do the math. The Social Security tax holiday amounts to a little over $800 dollars per return, if divided equally among the great unwashed who file returns. The top 2 per cent of income earners will receive $70,000 or more in benefits. So, anyone supporting this deal says it's okay that the top earners get over 80 times the benefit from this deal as the average working family. After all, as the rationales go, this is the best Obama can do with those obstructionist meanies, the repugs, and how much worse off we'd be if the deal didn't go thru, even though the long term impact from this deal is decidely unknown, other than the political fights about tax policy have been deferred with the same assurances we've already heard, that next time will be different.

So, well, excuse me, to all those complaining about the dems infighting over this tax deal. Given the disparity of how benefits are being handed out, they damn well ought to be. If there's no reason to fight here, there's no reason to fight anytime. Its like telling the hungry the choice is between table scraps with dirt on it and no table scraps.

Posted by: gone_west on December 8, 2010 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Vineyarder on December 8, 2010 at 4:39 PM

"Maybe you can get us another George W. Bush!"

We probably don't need one. Obama's got 2 more years to fuck shit up and continue to do things in half-measures. Maybe a little too much drone activity in Yemen or Pakistan and he will rival Bush. He needs a Cheney to reach the depths Bush plumbed.

Obama/Lieberman 2012

By the way, did Bush take the Executive Order prescription pad with him or is our current president above seeing things he wants are done?

Posted by: tko on December 8, 2010 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Fuck'em all.

Posted by: kc on December 8, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, do the math. The Social Security tax holiday amounts to a little over $800 dollars per return, if divided equally among the great unwashed who file returns. The top 2 per cent of income earners will receive $70,000 or more in benefits. So, anyone supporting this deal says it's okay that the top earners get over 80 times the benefit from this deal as the average working family.

Posted by: gone_west

On top of which, the process of defunding Social Security will have begun.

Posted by: kc on December 8, 2010 at 5:34 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Obama did attack the Republicans, rather strongly, just yesterday. Funny how a great many didn't hear it.

Posted by: hildebrandM

Sure, he called them big meanies, after he gave them the store.

Posted by: kc on December 8, 2010 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

square1: "Liberals like me will call a "cease fire" when, and only when, Third-Way Democrats stop pushing for trickle-down economics, the abolition of the social safety net, and unrestrained corporatism."

Bravo, square1. Well said.

Lets talk about the circular firing squad for a moment. Oh, sure, the Dem base is WRONG because we are expressing our outrage that the POTUS has betrayed our core values. So I guess those who are scolding us are the rational, sensible, pragmatic adults, the Serious People, and we are the sanctimonious, wild-eyed lefties out of step with America. Yes? Doesn't it all depends one's lens? Republicans also call us sanctimonious, wild-eyed lefties. Pick your company.

Do you think the Republicans would accuse their base of being purists, rigid, impractical, and disloyal to the POTUS when he betrays their core principles? Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, the base would rebel and put up challengers while being cheered by Republican leadership? Ask Lisa Murkowski. Ask Mike Castle.

So why do Democrats ignore, neglect or attack their base? Call them "third-way" Democrats or centrist Republicans in disguise, when DINOs attack the base, they reveal their true colors. They get their jollies from being enablers; they get to have their cake and eat it, too. They are privileged by Republican policies and practices, but as Democrats, they get power, and they get to preen and pretend to be kind, decent people. It is easy to rationalize "necessary" compromises when those compromises secure your privileges. So, through their lens, f**k the base.

From my point of view, we need better Democrats.

Posted by: PTate in MN on December 8, 2010 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

The last few are such obvious provocateurs , its pretty sickening.But their isn't much difference anyway.Were all republicans in spirit, when it comes to attacking the president, right?Well, I for one am not fooled into thinking he had a great choice, as much as you would rather have him do.He did the best he could do not having the leverage.The people made a choice and put in republicans in the house, and now , if he doesn't get something through Now, then we would have NOTHING.When all is said and done, and people finally get over their rage and look at what happened, we will see that despite the 140 billion for the rich, and estate taxes, we got some stuff that will help the economy, which is on the upswing.Thanks to his policies DESPITE, republican opposition.No president before has dealt with a cogress that from the moment he was elected the only intention has been to get him unelected.Damn the country.People need to get their priorities straight, they are playing straight into republican aims.

Posted by: Michael on December 8, 2010 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

You triple ass. Dems aren't making that attack because they are corporate hacks and Chicago School pseudo-fascists just like Obama and Summers and Geithner and they couldn't give a tinker's cuss about the poor and the working class and they like tax cuts for billionaires because it lines their campaign coffers.

It's absolutely hyperreal that you continue you to excuse this incompetent, corrupt fraud. What will it take. 70%-support public option down the toilet, months of footsy with Baucus and Grassley, crooked deal with Tauzin, crooked arm-twisting to kill drug importation, crooked arm-twisting to preserve bonuses for bailed-out bankers, amicus briefs for Yoo, imperial powers for extrajudical murder of American citizens, hilariously transparent extralegal persecution of Wikileaks, carte blanche for CIA torturers and war criminals, catfood commission, firesale at FHA, full-court press effort to destroy the public school system, what is it going to take. If he comes out for privatization of Social Security, will you support him? If he eats a human child on live TV will you say the President is not a magician and this was the best compromise an "adult" could hope for with the slavering rabid proto-nazis in the other party?

Posted by: q on December 8, 2010 at 7:53 PM | PERMALINK

Not for the first time, I am in near complete agreement with Mr. Benen. To hear the (self-proclaimed)"base" tell it, the >$250K tax rates are THE most critical issue ever, and this is THE biggest betrayal (of many alleged) committed by Obama.

Perhaps more leadership on this issue from the White House might have changed the dynamic a bit, but Dems in Congress as well as the activist base did precious little to prepare the ground for a do-or-die fight. For the 10^9th time, WHY NOT VOTE ON THIS BEFORE NOVEMBER? I mean, failing to hold that vote was a tell, and now you think you're going to bluff the Republicans on it? They might be stupid, crazy and evil, but their party is not led by five year olds.

Then again, there have been so many "hill(s) to die on" for the activist base, haven't there? The Public Option, which Obama supposedly, somehow "sold out" despite the hard fact that there were never even 50 votes for it in the Senate comes to mind.

FDR was a great President, and LBJ tragically flawed. To put it mildly, they both REALLY "sold out" on some serious big-ticket items, including internment of the Nisei, collusion with avowed White Supremacist Southerners and the Vietnam War. And yet, they both moved mountains in terms of pushing progressive policy. While I cannot and should not forget the misdeeds, I have to evaluate them on everything they did in office, not just the stuff that engaged my emotions.

The financial deregulation and media deregulation signed by Clinton have been ruinous, and I keep hearing from angry Liberals that somehow everything would be alright if only the candidate who hired Mark Penn was in the White House. I choose not to dwell on that, but it is disturbing nonetheless.

But this deal on the tax rates? _This_ is when all these geniuses realized that "Obama is just like Reagan"? (And yes, I have heard and read that far too much in the last 48 hours.) WTF?

Maybe the President is the one who punted, but it was Congressional Democrats who called this 3rd down punt back in September. I heard precious few--- actually NONE--- of the now outraged "base" Democrats say a word about that. (I don't frequent the Firebagger sites that much, but correct me if I'm wrong. The crickets and tumbleweeds were a lot louder.)

What, they thought that losing dozens of seats and probably the House would give them MORE leverage in the lame duck session? Or that a GOP controlled House would be more amenable to sane tax policy? (Or they didn't have the votes and it's easier and more gratifying to blame the President for it than one's own caucus? Cynical me, I think that's a lot closer to the mark.)

I know Steve B. was on it, but he seems like one of those foolish Quisling sell-outs who actually give a damn about policy. I know the feeling.

I'm more than a little disappointed and angry with some of the Left-Dems right now, and with Pelosi, Reid and Obama as well. On the other hand, I am flat-out furious at the sick and irresponsible games the Confederate, whoops, Republican Party is playing.

I know it's more constructive to lob the bombs at the GOP rather than inside the tent, but the "where's my pony? BETRAYER!" dynamic can get infuriating. POTUS probably shouldn't have vented that for 8 minutes at a press conference, but I have an idea how he's feeling about it.

Obama is not a Christlike savior who will rescue us from our own folly; Pelosi, Reid and the Liberal activist part of the base are human and make mistakes, sometimes even big ones.

But I'd be one hell of a fool to think that they, or any of them were my enemy. Time for a cease fire in this tent.

Posted by: Ben Hosen on December 8, 2010 at 8:10 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, please. The Rs have been "wildly irresponsible" and open for "potentially devastating criticism" for the last eight friggin' years. And what have the Ds done? Shit! Caved every time on every significant issue -- the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, Bush tax cuts, warrantless wiretaps, Valerie Plame outing, Supreme Ct appointments, the Stimulus package, healthcare, this tax deal, and on and on. The nightmare simply never ends. When Rs shamelessly lie, Ds 'play nice' and we -- the middle class --get screwed. You actually think Ds will miraculously learn to fight back this time?! It's laughable.

Here's how things will play out in 2012, as the economy will still suck (thanks to this deal), AND the deficit will have skyrocketed:

Rs: "The Obama and D economic policies have been a disaster -- just look at the economy and the deficit. Elect us -- we'll lower your taxes, spend more on defense, AND lower the deficit. Promise!"

Ds. "Um, well, we're trying to work with our R counterparts."

The Rs will once again easily win the PR war (shamelessly and repeatedly lying), likely win the election, and then proceed to screw up things even worse, declare wars, raise the deficit, gut Social Security, turn us into a theocracy, etc.

And 2016 will repeat as in 2008.

I hope to be watching from Canada.

Posted by: nemisten on December 8, 2010 at 8:11 PM | PERMALINK

With all due respect to the "why don't we all settle down and be reasonable about this" tone of the original post, I have to agree with Terry on this one--game, set, and match to the GOP. This was something BO held as a line in the sand since his campaign days. And he can't get it done? Moreover, the idea that he is held hostage to the GOP minority is a JOKE. What has been missing from Steve's analysis is something just as important as RATIONALITY. It is called PASSION. A passion for the fight; a passion for the rallying of the troops; a passion for using the bully-pulpit to galvanize public opinion. That is the problem. I agree--BO is a smart guy, but, and its a big BUT--he is no fighter. These have been the easiest legislative days for him, and he didn't fully use them--and never really drew a line in the sand, but rather, let others do it for him--notably Nancy Pelosi. Does anyone really think that Health care would have got done without her going to the mat for it? BO wasn't. And here is the thing--even if you soothingly tell me that that is not true, that BO led the good fight, the base doesn't believe it. You can say its the media's fault, or our fault for not paying attention to minutiae, but the truth is that the President has done a piss-poor job of taking the fight to the GOP and the arguments to the American people and explaining to them in concrete and clear ways, what the issues are. He could have galvanized public opinion behind him on these issues, especially since the majority of people are for his "stated" positions. And I do fault him for that.

Posted by: Cas on December 8, 2010 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

I have no problem understanding liberal anger. Maddow nailed it, if you can't win an argument when you control both houses of Congress and the White House, and even a majority of brain dead tea baggers are with you *in principle* when polled on an issue, you can't win any issue.

I also can understand hand wringing pragmatists. Just think how much more of a smoldering shit hole the country would be if we weren't tempering GOP evil...

But I think that the core problem is very simple, it is a leadership vacuum.

Seriously, Steve asked the other day 'what is Plan B?' He was talking about rejecting this deal. But isn't that really most of the Obama presidency?

You wouldn't have to scramble for back door stimulus if you had the courage to vocalize what your own advisors knew to be true from day one. When it became clear that we were not recovering, and HAMP was another screw-Joe-consumer handout for banks, AND the banks were caught basically stealing houses, what, exactly, was the Obama plan? Dampen, ever so little, GOP efforts to make things shittier?

If the administration had been howling about the true size of the crater, instead of subscribing to the U of Chicago school of stupid, many battles since would be unfolding differently. Leader's provide a vision and a narrative. Even when you compromise, and even when you lose. Especially when you lose.

Obama wouldn't be seen as an ankle grabbing push over if just once he would draw a line in the sand and pound the message into the ground.

What liberals wanted was to at least fight a political battle and see rather the the sociopathic GOP could ever be forced to feel electoral heat. "I am not going to give bailouts to billionaires today, not while there are American's in harms way on the battlefield, and not when so many regular American's are suffering. And I will never, ever, ever, give handouts to the richest American's unless they are paid for, our great grand children deserve better. If Americans disagree with me on the need to help the richest of the rich, so be it, but if you want me to listen to those arguments, start by presenting them honestly, how are you going to pay for it without using our childrens, childrens', childrens' prosperity?!"

If you never fight the battle, either to win or lose, no one really knows what you believe in. In other words, the only principles that we really believe in are the ones that we stand by when they cost us something. We point out this hypocrisy in the ReThugs a lot, but how about Obama?

If he had been fighting some battles and losing, we'd know he was folding to help those most in need. But as it stands, he just seems like another politician, and a stupid one at that.

Yell at the left, bend over and grab my ankles and lick the backside of the rich, and look stunned when he is still black, non-American, and Satan's socialist minion on earth come 2012...

Personally, I think that the pragmatists are right about impact, but wrong about cause. The economy is desperate for stimulus, but it is the administration's fault that it has not been beating this drum for a year. If leadership and courage had taken the place of butt covering and hoping, the focus would be on the idiocy of the GOP demands, not how pathetic and inadequate the Obama side of the deal is.

Posted by: Fitz on December 8, 2010 at 9:29 PM | PERMALINK

Rigged. All of this Obama/Republican "compromise" dance over taxes was rigged as a deal between the DLC Blue Dog Democrats and culture of corruption Republicans...and apparently President Obama went along with their game plan, if not actually chairing the behind-closed-doors meeting where this was discussed, where the rigging of the federal tax system to benefit the ultra-wealthy and their progeny was worked out.

How do we know this was rigged?

Extending all the budget-busting deficit-exploding Bush era tax cuts will blow a $3 to $4 trillion hole in federal budgets over the next ten years, thus requiring $3 to $4 trillion in cuts in federal programs and services over the next ten years.

Oh, wait, a Cat Food Commission was created earlier this year before extending Bush era tax cuts was even being discussed (at least in public), a commission creasted by President Obama (after prodding by minority Republicans), a commission headed by Bowles and Simpson which just happened to recommend recently the cutting of $3 to $4 trillion from the federal budget over the next ten years, you know, to fill in the huge budgetary hole created by extending the budget-busting deficit-exploding Bush era tax cuts. Hmmmm.


I really, really doubt it. Rigged, yes, coincidence, no.

And I agree with Robert Parry's post at Consortium News: President Obama is setting himself up to give into even more Republican hostage-taking demands. Hey, it worked once for them (actually a number of times so far) so Republicans will continue using the same tactic, especially next year when the House is again under Republican control and the debt limit increase is "debated." What hostage will Republicans hold then? You? Me? Our children? Our entire country? And many conservative Republicans claim they are Christian. Really? I guess they're reading a different New Testament than the one I'm reading, a totally different New Testament in which Jesus Christ held the poor hostage for the benefit of the wealthiest. Gee, I hadn't realized Jesus Christ did or advocated doing something so foul, so evil.

Posted by: The Oracle on December 8, 2010 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK

Below is my letter to the President regarding his tax "deal":
Mr. President: it is you who are guilty of sanctimonious declamation. You berated the Left for being "too purist" when, in fact, the Left reflects what a majority of Americans believe: there should be no tax cuts for the wealthy. But in pursuit of your own mythic persona as "The Great Compromiser", you have redefined compromise as getting the Republicans to vote yes on their own proposals. What a masterful use of the art of camouflage -- camouflaging "capitulation" as "compromise". But the most artful deceit of all was portraying yourself as an instrument of change. Congratulations -- and woe to the American people who believed.

Posted by: mt on December 8, 2010 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

"I noticed Chris Hayes said something interesting this morning (translated from Twittereese): "For what it's worth, I have a lot more rage at the GOP for how the tax debate played out than the White House. Republicans really did use the unemployed as hostages. It's disgusting."

Uh-Uh. There is still no excuse for Obama teeing off on liberals and Progressives.

Posted by: Claimsman on December 8, 2010 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

Having said that, Republicans aren't just being wildly irresponsible, they're opening themselves up to some potentially devastating criticism.

Oh... you mean you'll write a post about how terribly confused they are?

Look out Doug Piranha... you're going to have to kick it up a notch!

Posted by: elbrucce on December 8, 2010 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, Obama did attack the Republicans, rather strongly, just yesterday. Funny how a great many didn't hear it.

Because the so-called "liberal media" basically didn't report it. Instead, it amplified Obama's chiding of the left. Imagine that.

Posted by: Gregory on December 9, 2010 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

The "pragmatists" on this thread and out there in the Village are not the smart realists they take themselves to be. On the contrary, they are dupes and fools who think they are geniuses playing eleventy-dimensional chess when in reality they are fish constantly trading queens for pawns in return for no strategic advatage at all.

When people like me say we want Democrats who stand up for principles, its not because we are tight-asses who can't appreciate the art of the pragmatic deal. Its just that we can't afford to keep on with the crappy "pragmatic" deals you losers keep cutting. It's because we have watched repeatedly over the last 30 years how your Pyrrhic tactics have completely fucked us all over and we're simply saying, "stop the madness".

The problem is there is an endless supply of marks who are eager to pose as the real pragmatic, strategic geniuses, when all they are is long-term losers who are giving away the store.

Get some balls and some common sense, you bunch of wankers.

Posted by: The Fool on December 9, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Here's another point the faux-pragmatist "compromisers" better keep in mind: you say grown ups need to face the fact that we have to compromise? Well you better face the fact that you may need to compromise your own sanctimonious position with me and people like me. How do you like them apples?

You all are playing a very dangerous game. You may think of me as Sister Souljah and you may think you're making some awesome strategic move, but you are in real danger of losing my support.

You better be careful when you play with fire. I am a lifelong Democrat who has never voted for a Republican and never misses an election. In fact, it is my job to get Democrats elected.

But Obama just keeps on selling out and keeps on antagonizing me and keeps on calling me names. I'll still never vote for a Republican, but right now I am seriously tempted not to vote for Obama in 2012. You all better do some of your famous compromising or you're going to watch the bottom fall out of this presidency.

Posted by: The Fool on December 9, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

In this case, attacking Obama's position is pretty much synonomous with attacking the Republicans.

Posted by: zeke on December 9, 2010 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK



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