Oh, I’m sorry. There was a hiccup in the time-space continuum and suddenly I was back in 2007. E.J. Dionne:
A senior Obama lieutenant insisted that the president wasn’t attacking liberals. He was responding only to those condemning him as a “sellout” for a tax deal that achieves many progressive goals, at the cost of extending tax cuts for the wealthy and egregiously conceding billions to very rich people who inherit large estates.
Yet simultaneously, the White House also sent out signals that it was consciously casting the president as a centrist problem-solver in a new iteration of Bill Clinton’s old “triangulation” strategy.
This would suggest that Obama is perfectly happy to see liberals publicly furious, and happier still that some right-wing Republican politicians and groups, notably Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and the Club for Growth, came out against the tax deal, too. There’s nothing like occupying the lofty heights of moderation, especially where Washington conventional wisdom is concerned.
Wait, didn’t the bloggers who swooned at Obama’s feet promise me he would be the end of all this?
But in the long run, is Obama capable of winning the battles with the Republicans that this temporary agreement sets up? By expanding the deficit, it will make it easier for the Republicans to push sharp cuts in all manner of domestic programs, including Medicare and Social Security. This accord will not stop Republicans from expounding regularly on “the Obama deficit” or from trying to box him in again on the tax cuts.
One House Democrat, who because he respects Obama asked not to be named, offered an unexpected case for the package that tells the president how much ground he has to make up with those who were once his most fervent supporters.
“If I thought they were ready to go 12 rounds on this next year, I’d kill it in a heartbeat,” he said of the administration. “But if they’re going to keep leaving the ring after the first punch, this is the best alternative we’ve got to keep this recovery going and helping those who are hurting the most.” There was no sanctimony or purism here, just a sober and melancholy realism.