First-Class Temperament

December 8, 2010 - 5:08 pm
Irradiated by LabRat
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So the President’s most recent press conference was about the tax cut/employment benefit compromise bill, with which nobody was entirely happy and no one was entirely disappointed, which is basically the definition of “compromise”.

Faced with a option a, play it like a victory was won for letting more people keep more of their money during a recession and also make sure no one unemployed is left out in the cold and his administration is totally awesome for rising above petty partisanship to benefit the American people, and option b, play it like he just won a brave victory by keeping the evil Republicans from cutting off unemployment against a Congressional disadvantage, he went with option c, throw a petulant tantrum. Well played.

If you read the transcript, he actually made a pretty credible effort to go with a combination of option a and option b, and if he’d stopped talking at that point it would have gone pretty well… but he didn’t. It started to go downhill once the questions from the press corps passed beyond “softball” and went into things like questioning why Obama couldn’t do exactly what he wanted when he had the majority, and it started to *really* go downhill with this question:

Mr. President, what do you say to Democrats who say you’re rewarding Republican obstruction here? You yourself used in your opening statement they were unwilling to budge on this. A lot of progressive Democrats are saying they’re unwilling to budge, and you’re asking them to get off the fence and budge. Why should they be rewarding Republican obstruction?

The response to which starts off with:

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.

Winning political strategy when talking about a compromise bill you have spent the first half of your press conference laboriously reminding the press was a win for the public in general: equating the people you had to compromise with to terrorists. Extra win: stating, within your analogy, that you have to negotiate with terrorists if there’s a chance they could hurt somebody.

An alert press, by which I mean, “conscious”, picks up on this:

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?

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.

Now, keep in mind, I’ve just gone through two years, Chuck, where the rap on me was I was too stubborn and wasn’t willing to budge on a whole bunch of issues — including, by the way, health care where everybody here was writing about how, despite public opinion and despite this and despite that, somehow the guy is going to bulldoze his way through this thing.

Poor Obama. The terrorists keep saying he hates to compromise. Also the press hates him, and the health care bill was a tour de force of compromise.

He manages to get it back on the rails for awhile (save his reference to John Boehner as a “bomb-thrower”), and it goes straight to hell at this question:

Where is your line in the sand?

…So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for for a hundred years, but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get that would have affected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people and the potential for lower premiums for 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

…Notwithstanding that it doesn’t actually get health care for all Americans, burdens a significant number of Americans that were paying out-of-pocket for health care far more cheaply than the new mandated plans, but those are beside-the-point nitpicks. The point is, he got what Democrats wanted for a century.

Now, if 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 some of them didn’t like it. Those ungrateful BASTARDS.

Note to the President: you don’t actually own progressives or Democrats. They’re allowed to say you didn’t do a very good job with health care without being ingrates, especially if, from their perspective, it’s absolutely true. (I would say it’s absolutely true from an entirely different perspective, of course.)

And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are

It takes some serious chutzpah to lecture large sectors of the public for being sanctimonious while also telling the nation as a whole that it just doesn’t know what’s good for it.

That can’t be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat.

I’m sure they’ve simply been waiting for you to tell them what it does, since if they are disagreeing with you they certainly can’t know. After all, they anointed you.

This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people.

No, it’s just you.

and that means because it’s a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise.

What happened to “I won.”?

And I don’t think there’s a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised.

I have a few million people for you to meet.

Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do.

The only term for this is “blatant lie”, but the horrifying thing is he might actually sincerely believe this to be true.

Would it be too much to point out the sea level hasn’t appreciably gone down?

The entire transcript isn’t this bad, and for the most part it’s him making the entirely boring if more than slightly hypocritical point that we live in a democracy and we have to compromise with people we disagree with to get anything done. And it wouldn’t have been at all difficult to stick with this message… but when even lightly goaded by the press (which is doing its job, and not forcefully at that) he still felt the need to lambast his own party as well as describe the other party as essentially evil and insane.

The Lightworker, he has left the building.

No Responses to “First-Class Temperament”

  1. Old NFO Says:

    Great post, and not a single four letter word! :-)