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November 21, 2011 8:35 AM The right blames Obama for GOP’s debt failure

By Steve Benen

As the super-committee implodes, the rush is on to assign blame. At this point, many Republicans and media figures want to point the finger at President Obama.

Indeed, the right seems quite invested in this line of attack, as if a memo went out to Republicans and allied pundits, encouraging them to all say the same thing at the same time. Judd Gregg and Robert Samuelson make the same lazy argument in print, and both pretend to have no knowledge of the massive debt-reduction plans Obama offered the GOP, which the conservative party rejected.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) even sketched out a crude conspiracy theory, telling ABC yesterday that the White House deliberately ensured the super-committee’s failure so the president could run against a “do-nothing Congress.”

Then there was Mitt Romney.

With the so-called supercommittee at an impasse ahead of Wednesday’s deadline, Mr. Romney blamed the president for the apparent failure of the bipartisan panel…. “He hasn’t had any role,” Mr. Romney told roughly 200 supporters outside the city hall building in Nashua…. “He’s done nothing.”

Let’s count the ways in which this fails to make any sense whatsoever.

First, President Obama offered Republicans multiple debt-reduction plans, which called for concessions from both sides. GOP lawmakers rejected every offer. That’s not an example of the president “doing nothing”; it’s an example of the opposite.

Second, Obama can’t force Republicans to negotiate in good faith and he can’t compel the GOP to accept revenues the party refused to even consider. It’s not as if Republicans on the super-committee would somehow become more responsible because the president asked them to stop acting like children. Indeed, he’s asked that before, and it’s never worked.

And third, Obama kept his distance and allowed members of the debt panel to work on a deal on their own because Republicans asked the president to stay away.

[A]nother committee member, Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, said on “Meet the Press” that President Obama and White House budget officials “were asked to be hands off.”

“The Republicans said, ‘Don’t let Obama come into this, because if he does, it will make it political,’ ” Mr. Kerry said, adding, “They’ve been intimately involved, but carefully so that they didn’t politicize it. I think they did the right thing.”

Republicans can’t urge Obama to keep his distance, and then blame him when he keeps his distance.

Members of this committee were given a task: strike a deal. Democrats were willing to meet Republicans more than half way; Republicans weren’t willing to compromise. It’s only natural to wonder who’s to blame when there’s a breakdown like this, but holding the White House responsible is deeply foolish.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • MattF on November 21, 2011 8:37 AM:

    Well, uh, gosh... Couldn't possibly be something to do with Republicans, so who else is there to blame?

  • c u n d gulag on November 21, 2011 8:50 AM:

    A couple of months ago:
    "HANDS OFF during the negotiations, Mr. President!"

    Now:
    "Hey, how come the President had a hands-off policy during the negotiations? It's all his fault."

    I'm starting to rethink this whole peaceful protest/revolution thing.
    Viva La France!!!

  • bleh on November 21, 2011 8:53 AM:

    Republicans canít urge Obama to keep his distance, and then blame him when he keeps his distance.

    Of course they can! And when they're done with that, they'll blame it on his Kenyan heritage, Michelle's organic vegetable garden, and the general decay in moral values due to gaymarriage and Occupy Wall Street.

    And the echo chamber will duly repeat it and repeat it, and the base will believe it.

    Since when are Republicans constrained by facts, or even by logic?

  • Mudge on November 21, 2011 8:57 AM:

    bleh: You need to add "or the truth"

  • stevio on November 21, 2011 8:58 AM:

    He who controls the message controls the outcome

  • martin on November 21, 2011 9:06 AM:

    What bleh said.

    What's the worst that can happen, they get called "hypocrites" in a blog? It's not like the MSM is going to call them on it.

  • Danp on November 21, 2011 9:10 AM:

    many Republicans and media figures want to point the finger at President Obama.

    Does Joe Manchin qualify as a media figure? He, too, blamed Obama for lack of leadership today on Morning Joke. Luckily, the TV still works. But it may die of atrophy.

  • berttheclock on November 21, 2011 9:13 AM:

    Robert Samuelson???

    You mean the so-called economist who writes swill for WaPo? The same one who has written over and over again about the majority of Social Security recipients being on welfare, because they are receiving far more than they paid into the SSA? My wife was even told that by a SSA employee in the Portland office. He must be a Samuelson disciple.

  • SW on November 21, 2011 9:28 AM:

    Well, if he did kill this thing I would put it right up there with killing bin Laden. Way to go Barak.

  • Anonymous on November 21, 2011 10:09 AM:

    ... as if a memo went out to Republicans and allied pundits, encouraging them to all say the same thing at the same time.

    Oh, that never happens, does it?

  • deanarms on November 21, 2011 10:09 AM:

    Which brings us back to Tom Freidman and his meme about "Where does the President stand on taxes and cuts?" Inside the beltway blather from a card carrying VSP that feeds and nourishes the GOP blather.

  • qwerty on November 21, 2011 10:43 AM:

    What bleh said. Republicans think they are compromising and are being bipartisan by just showing up. Democrats can only be bipartisan by giving up everything they claim to believe in.

  • RobK1967 on November 21, 2011 12:47 PM:

    Republicans, the Party of No, no ideas, no spine, no scruples, and no hope

  • Quaker in a Basement on November 21, 2011 12:49 PM:

    Republicans canít urge Obama to keep his distance, and then blame him when he keeps his distance.

    Just came in on the turnip truck, did ya?

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