Commentary‘s Jonathan S. Tobin is right on the money, as usual, today with his analysis of the bargaining on the debt ceiling. Which side is playing chicken? he asks. His clear-eyed reply:
But if you want to know who is really playing chicken with the debt and the future of the U.S. economy, perhaps the answer can be found by asking which side is doing the most to use scare tactics to get their way in the negotiations: President Obama.
By doing his best to inspire fear about the future of the markets, the president is playing the same card he has attempted to put into the game for the last two months. We have long suspected the president was using the 1995 government shutdown as his political model. Like President Clinton, who used that impasse to portray the GOP and its feckless leader as petulant extremists, Obama has been hoping to fit either Boehner or House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for the Newt Gingrich clown suit. He hoped either the Republicans would buckle rather than accept blame for a financial meltdown or reap the political benefits if the deadline passed without an agreement.
There’s an old saying among old lawyers that if you have the facts on your side, argue the facts; if you have the law on your side, argue the law; if you have neither on your side, pound on the table. What we have before us is the spectacle of a petulant, bossy, frustrated, infantile pouter pounding the podium. Tantrums may work when you’re a toddler, but not when you’re the president. As Bryan Preston wittily observed on The Tatler yesterday, his fits of temper only makes him look not like POTUS, but like imPOTUS. Not a helpful image for the Commander-in-Chief.