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December 31, 2012



I'm more or less with you - but not quite. But I pay attention when you criticize Obama this pointedly, as you are measured and patient compared to some of the prominent voices on Obama's titular "side". You don't run around with your hair on fire screaming about betrayals and sell-outs in reaction to every bargain Obama makes.

In the earlier doomsday bargaining sessions created by the GOP to humiliate Obama, I defended the outcomes of those talks on the simple basis that Obama had almost no leverage or political capital. Given that, he did admirably in holding the line (although the original sin was not getting a debt ceiling hike through Congress before the Teabagger House was seated, and we are still paying for that).

Here, I am aware of the reality that any legislation still needs to pass the GOP House, and that means Obama can't simply steamroll his way to his preferred outcome. What I don't understand - as you, Krugman, and others keep noting - is why he began making concessions as early as he did (when it seemed to all watching that he had Boehner all but pinned to the mat and just about ready to cry Uncle), and if concessions had to happen, why he didn't do a better job stapling those horrible ideas to Boehner's forehead so he and the GOP could be stuck with them for the next election. All he's doing is proving that the GOP really will get a much better deal than they deserve if they just hold their breath until they turn purple and make enough threats. He had a chance to disabuse them of that notion this time, with the leverage he had on taxes, the capital of his reelection, and overwhelming public opinion support. This was his chance to recalibrate expectations for how these deals would go down from now on, and his poorly-chosen and unnecessary concessions messed that all up.



"...This was his chance to recalibrate expectations for how these deals would go down from now on, and his poorly-chosen and unnecessary concessions messed that all up."

I'm having trouble understanding why this is so. If Congress does nothing and tax cuts lapse/sequesters launch, doesn't the leverage on each side dramatically change? If President Obama ends this round of "chicken" with public opinion firmly on his side, would he still be expected to honor concessions he was supposedly willing to make *before* the shift in leverage? I'm sorry if that's an idiotic question -- I just have trouble believing the American public is really all that concerned about the cuts that Republicans claim has their panties wadded up. I think most of 'em only care about what their paychecks will look like from here on out. If we go "over the cliff" it would surprise me if angry Americans start yelling about the entitlement cuts that didn't happen.


I believe you are being totally honest and agree that is what we should expect.

I also think that lately you've been totally wrong in your assessment. The thing I take most umbrage to is your assertion that PBO is "lucky."

But overall my disagreement would be that you are too wedded to what I see as a sexist Western view of how one wields power. Viewing PBO through that frame is always going to cloud your ability to see his strategy effectively.


@ Beulahmo

Not at all an idiotic question - and you're right. The post-cliff jump game board is different. I just think the precedent set by offering to swallow Social Security cuts (particularly infuriating since SS doesn't add to the deficit) and budging on the $250k marker will make it that much tougher to stymie the GOP on the debt ceiling and future haggling episodes.

And, in the off chance the GOP does at some point learn to say "yes" when Obama offers an entitlement cut, I want him to be adept at making them own their cruelty and pay the political price for it. The memory of the GOP mendaciously but effectively running as the "principled defenders of Medicare" in 2010 is still fresh in my mind. If they were able to do that by screaming about so-called cuts that didn't even touch benefits, imagine how excited they would be to run against the "Obama cuts to Social Security." And they would. Oh yes, they would.

Peter G

Personally I'm quite addicted to PM Carpenter's commentary. Even when I disagree with it which has been more often lately. It is now merely hours from the fiscal cliff and it appears a deal has been reached. And I don't see how such terms as have been made public can be seen as any sort of defeat for the administration. The Republicans seem to think that agreeing to tax increases draws out the Democrat's trump card and that are now free of the sting of acting only in the interest of the rich. That's more than a little optimistic. If the tax cuts get passed and a few other housekeeping points get dealt with then the rest of it can be argued to eternity. The world, to my mind, is unfolding as it should.

Peter G

I would like to ask a general question of our host and other commenters. Last night the president gave a presser wherein he mocked the Republicans inability to get things done and made clear that the future negotiations on the debt ceiling will include tax increases. Now why would he do this before the House takes up the current deal? I can see no other reason than to provoke the tea party crowd and cause further dissension in Republican ranks.and ensure that the fiscal cliff deal gets mostly Democratic party votes and just enough Republican votes to pass. if someone can offer an alternative reason for the president's comments I'd like to hear it.

Robert Lipscomb

I never went to a right-wing site and took George W. Bush to stop doing what he was doing that would lead to a destruction of modern 'conservatism" because I did not gove a shit about W or the GOP.

When my daughter graduated from high school, I gave her a Bible with the inscription, "I hope and pray you will always have friends who will tell you when you are full of shit."

Criticizing Obama or P.M. or especially me and especially by friends is a good thing - even when one or both parties are wrong.

As the Baptists around here say, "God doesn't whip the Devil's step-children."

Peter G

Can't think of a comparable metaphor from Catholic dogma, Robert. Or such of it as I remember. For myself I learned long ago that my chess game did not improve by playing inferior players. That, and a love of well written prose, are the main reasons I follow this blog.

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