If the commenters at the Huffington Post, and the hosts and guests at MSNBC, are any guide, the Bush tax cut deal has rendered the Obama presidency a zombie. It looks alive and is even able to move and groan a bit, but it’s mostly dead.
foxinretreat—CLASS WARFARE and some civil unrest , brewing in a neighborhood near you. Hey oligarchs how it turns out is anybody’s guess. I hope Wikileaks unleashes its info on the banks ASAP, I could care less if WS has to tank to stop this madness.
mjtaylor22—THEY GOT MOR EBANG FOR THEIR BUCK, HOW BOUT INCREASE UI PAYMENTS, AND SEND EVERY CITIZEN A CHECK FOR AT LEAST 1,000..SORRY TAX PAYING CITIZEN……
Linda Mulenbach—Dear Mr. President. You had me, and then you lost me! Can we please have a democratic primary challenger! I am DONE with Obama.
Chefbob50—Wanted: One backbone and set of balls send to B. Obama c/o 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Wash. D.C.
Well, Chefbob, you obviously sent Obama your heart in 2008. Why not complete the deal now? There’s more HuffPo commentary at the link, including stuff like this:
srheard—The next time I vote for a President, I am going to rank strong negotiating skills right up there with literacy and intellect.
That’s funny. Conservatives brought up the “competency” argument in 2008 and got slapped with the race card. Now here’s a liberal playing competency against Obama. I happened to be watching MSNBC’s Ed Schultz (so you don’t have to) when the deal came down on Monday. His guest was liberal Rep. Keith Ellison. I thought the two might have an on-air rage party.
Looking beyond the fever swamps, Paul Krugman doesn’t like the deal at all. Sen. Dick Durban thinks the Democrats may walk out on it (which would only mean they will get a worse deal after the GOP takes over the House next year). And liberal Rep. Jim McDermott calls the deal “Obama’s Gettysburg.” Which, if you think about it, puts Obama in the role of Robert E. Lee. Guess that means Biden gets to play Gen. Pickett. Heh.
It does seem as if all of Obama’s various bad choices and lack of experience have come to focus here. He has no experience in high level, hardball negotiations prior to the presidency, and it showed here: He lost in the eyes of the base that put him in office. He made a very poor choice in a vice president, and now that vice president is reportedly getting the job of selling this deal. To put that into some perspective, Joe Biden is so magnetic and persuasive that he has resorted to stealing others’ words and peddling them as his own. Biden is so persuasive that his plan for Iraq — opposing the surge, breaking it up into vulnerable mini-states — went nowhere. Biden is so persuasive that he’s never been more than a footnote to any recent presidential contest, until Obama plucked him for the veep job. It’s not a stretch to think that Biden won’t be any more persuasive among Obama’s liberal base than Obama himself is, and that base is turning on Obama in rage. Then again, here’s some counter evidence: As I’m writing this, the President is on the air in defensive lecture mode saying that this deal wasn’t about the “politics of the moment, but about what’s possible right now.” Uh, ok. And the difference is…? If his future communications on this and other issues remain as laughable as that, perhaps Biden is the better choice to front the band.
This presidency was already in a state of rapid decay, maybe even freefall. The mid-term “shellacking” robbed it of its congressional power and killed off Democratic allies in several states. Major figures like Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod were already heading for the exits, leaving behind the radical czars, the damaged and the gaffe prone. Now this deal may go down as Obama’s “read my lips” turn, alienating what’s left of his base.
Anything can happen in two years, and the more morbid among Obama’s allies are pining for a crisis to resurrect him. I’m not yet convinced that Obama is a one-and-done, but the rage among his base sure makes his re-election look a whole lot less likely.
Update: Watching President Obama’s press conference, I’m struck by just how out of sorts he seems. He’s trying to argue that he took this short term deal, which will end up being a bad long term for Republicans, because of the “tax cuts on the rich.” What he doesn’t seem to get is that he’ll be arguing about the “Bush tax cuts” as a whole in two years, when he’s running for re-election, having already lost that debate in 2010. He’s coming across as hectoring, defensive, and not well acquainted with the facts or the policy. This may be the worst presidential press conference I’ve seen since Bill Clinton denied “that woman.”
Update: Whoa. Now he’s angrily lecturing the left for their reaction to the deal, citing their negative reaction to ObamaCare because it lacked a public option. Again, he’s coming across as a know-it-all who’s reminding you of that unforgivable thing you did that ruined your relationship way back when. While it’s nice to see someone attempt to inject a little reality in the “reality based community,” I predict that this won’t go over well. At all.
More: Well, that was pretty bad, the kind of presser Napoleon might have given after Waterloo. Obama, among other things, compared Republicans to terrorists holding the American people “hostage”. That theme is bouncing around the left, indicating either an unhealthy groupthink is going on or that there’s an actual strategy at work. It’s a bad line to take, and it won’t work. Tax policy does not equal terrorism, especially in an age of actual, lethal terrorism.
All in all, not a good finish for 2010 if you’re Barack Obama, which will go down as the year of the death of “Hope and Change.”
Update: Real Clear Politics has video of Obama calling Republicans “hostage takers.” It’s a remarkably unpresidential line.