Some may say: What could a president do faced with such implacable opponents? But the opponents didn’t start implacable. Back in January, Speaker John Boehner said the possibility of a government default was “not even on the table.”
The president’s weakness, however, empowered the most radical Republicans. Would one more hard push extract one more big concession? The answer was always, “yes.” So the radicals pushed — and pushed again — and incidentally pushed would-be dealmakers to the side.
Through it all, Obama has played nice, again and again entreating his Republican opponents to emulate his example and play nice too. It’s not what Lyndon Johnson would have done. It’s not what Franklin Roosevelt would have done. I doubt it’s what Hillary Clinton would have done.
Which brings me back to my starting question: Why don’t the Democrats rebel? Presumably, they elected Obama to stand up for their shared principles. But he’s not standing up. He’s rolling over. Or being rolled.