I am among those in a state of suppressed rage and panic over the president’s negotiating strategy.The President finds himself caught between the rock of conservative opposition and the hard place of outraged progressives who want a Marxist utopia yesterday. I know he enjoys the vacations and the golf and flying around on Air Force One, but one wonders, if he keeps getting the heat that he's beginning to get from a heretofore adoring media, why he would ever want a second term.
I’d like to believe that it’s all 11-dimensional political chess; but at this point — after the midterm debacle, after the big concession on taxes without even getting a raise in the debt limit — what evidence do we have that Obama knows what he’s doing?
It’s very hard to avoid the impression that three things are going on:
1. Obama really just isn’t that into Democratic priorities. He really doesn’t much care about preserving Medicare for all seniors, keeping Social Security intact, and so on.
2. What he is into is his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend the partisan divide. He imagines that he can be the one who brings about a big transformation that settles disputes for decades to come — and has been unwilling to drop that vision no matter how many times the GOP shows itself utterly uninterested in anything except gaining the upper hand.
3. As a result, he can’t or won’t see what’s obvious to everyone else: that any Grand Bargain will last precisely as long as Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and will be torn up in favor of privatization and big tax cuts for the wealthy as soon as the GOP has the chance.
I hope I’m wrong about all this. But when has Obama given progressives any reason to believe they can trust him?