Obama Fails His Test of Strength

August 1st, 2011 at 12:05 am David Frum | 134 Comments |

| Print

Obama adviser David Axelrod offered up a sad little whistle through the graveyard after the debt ceiling deal:

“In the short term, everyone suffers politically …. In the long term, I think the Republicans have done terrible damage to their brand. Because now they’re thoroughly defined by their most strident voices.”

Is it possible that the Obama people actually believe that junk?

After this deal, what formerly was extreme is now suddenly mainstream – indeed, now suddenly endorsed by most Democrats and hailed by President Obama as a great achievement for the American people.

Once upon a time, long ago, President Obama’s message was: “My stimulus program will save jobs.”

Then the message shifted: “My stimulus plan has saved jobs.”

That message long ago lost its credibility. And so after Sunday’s deal, the administration will has backed itself – largely inadvertently – into a new message: ”We agree with the Republicans that it’s time to stop worrying about jobs. But unlike them, we favor a balanced approach that ignores jobs while also raising taxes.”

Good luck with that.

Recent Posts by David Frum

134 Comments so far ↓

  • Frumplestiltskin

    I am not unhappy with this deal, or would not be, if I were confident in the long game which I am not. But based on a potential long game, a commission that will not be able to produce a document for vote and if they do will have to have tax hikes (which is why I doubt they will be able to produce one), Republicans en masse will then vote against the recommendations, Democrats will, it will then go down and Republicans will then own all the cuts right before election time. Obama and the Democrats can then run on restoring those cuts with upper class tax cuts. (yes, the numbers won’t add up, but Democrats have to start to lie like hell too)
    David is ignoring that tax hikes for the rich are very popular.

    As to jobs, since both are ignoring them it is a bit of a wash. And lets face it, the Tea baggers now will not settle for anything else but the most radical agenda imaginable, I doubt Mittens will survive now and Republicans will likely go with Gov. Goodhair or Bachmann.

    • Smargalicious

      Wrong. The Flee bagger’s massive welfare spendathon called Obamanomics proved to be a colossal failure. Come January 2013 when we have a GOP President and Senate, we’ll do some more slashing.

      Get ready for the ride.

  • valkayec

    I guess it doesn’t matter that the GOP blocked, lied and distorted everything Obama tried to do. His every idea was panned by a raging GOP, calling him every lousy name they could think of. The screamed about his macroeconomic policies as being wild-eyed spending, regardless of the fact that over the previous decade those same GOP congress members spent money like it was going out of style.

    I’m not defending Obama. I’m condemning the behavior of the GOP. The same party that screamed loudly in protest when Kennedy proposed lowering marginal tax rates and the capital gains rates because they feared it would increase the deficit and national debt. In those days, the GOP really did care about the debt more than about low taxes. Now low taxes – and the destruction of the social safety net – is really all they care about. Oh, and winning at the game of politics. So, yeah, they’ve hurt their brand with the independents.

    • Anonne

      Yeah, the GOP is crazy but the cult of “balance” will be imposed upon Independents by the media, creating the false equivalence between the parties. That’s why it’s so hard to tell what is true – fringe elements are given the same platform and because the media is biased toward sensationalism without challenging anything, the GOP was able to lie their way through the whole thing. And that’s why they will succeed again – because of the sock puppets in the media.

  • medinnus

    “I’m not defending Obama. I’m condemning the behavior of the GOP.”

    Amen. The only people who don’t blame the GOP for this whole debacle are the usual ~30 of diehard GOP partisan hacks.

  • drdredel

    maybe I’m missing something… did we get any of the tax concessions Obama said were essential for this to be a “balanced” deal? I’m not seeing anything like that in the deal’s description. If not, then what did we get?

    • Anonne

      What did we get? As George Carlin said, we got a red, white and blue d**k rammed up our a**.

      • drdredel

        It is a human tragedy of the highest order that people like Carlin never run for office. That the job is so distasteful to most people of intellect, character, and wit, that the only ones willing to do it are those that are essentially useless.
        Sure, there are some very rare exceptions. But for the most part…

        It’s all the more disappointing because Obama talks SUCH a great game.

    • rbottoms

      The Bush tax cuts expiring in about six months.

      Insane racist teabaggers turning it up to 11.

      We didn’t elect a firebrand liberal savior?

      My goodness, is that news still? I never thought we did, we got a level headed compromise artist, better than the best lying sack of shit Republican who can make it through their primaries. Do you think gay marriage and the end of DADT is going to happen under Bachmann or Perry?

      Stop the f*****g whining.

      • drdredel

        Gimme a break. This is the guy that in the wake of all the latest gay marriage upheaval still can’t say “he supports it”. And don’t get me started on the nigh endless list of things that he’s continuing from the Bush doctrine that he railed against as a candidate that one starts to think that maybe they DID walk him into Area 51 on inauguration day and say “you SEE?! THIS is why we HAVE to do this shit!”

        I’m not whining. I think it’s entirely reasonable to take him to task for failing to either get what he wants, or at least use his (very specific) bully pulpit to call this what it IS time and again. If the tax cuts weren’t important, then why did he draw that line in the sand? Just so that he could look like a weakling loser when he capitulated on them 2 weeks later? Please enlighten me, I MUST be missing something. I asked it before, I’m asking again… what did the Democrats GET in this fight? And if it’s nothing, and if they were willing to get nothing all along… why did they waste our time?

      • greg_barton

        Amen, rbottoms!

        And I don’t think it’s about “what did Democrats get” and it shouldn’t be.

        Here’s how I see it. I may be left leaning politically, but in my heart I’m an empiricist. That means I like to see experiments run to see if hypotheses actually hold up, if they actually describe reality. Well, now we’ll get to see if the whole “spend less on government and everything will be fucking roses” thing will actually work. If this is just a replay of the 30′s that’s actually good for democrats. There was 40 straight years of Democratic dominance in the house of representatives after the nation finally got sick of republican bullshit, if you recall.

        • Anonne

          I don’t think about “what Democrats got” either, because I’m not one! What I want is good governance and good policy! Instead, what we as Americans are getting is a s**t sandwich.

          Obama may be the lesser of two evils, but the operating word here is evil. It is worse when a complete undermining of priorities comes from the one who was supposed to be on the side of the average American.

          I understand that governance involves compromise, which is why I can stomach the health reform bill. I had no messianic expectations for Obama. I have been very reserved on him since the beginning, but he has been an abject disappointment since last year, and it just gets worse. I don’t delude myself into thinking he’s doing some 11-dimensional chess bs.

          The only dope that has been roped is the American public, in part because it’s too stupid to discern truth from fiction, thanks to our fetid media. In 2008, we elected the coward in chief. In 2010, they put the Teatards in the House majority and got rid of the Senate’s supermajority. I am afraid of what comes next.

      • SteveT


        The bush tax cuts expire in 17 months not 6, and in all likelyhood they will be extended again.
        Obama’s a compromise artist all right, but he’s always the one giving. He never receives anything.

        I’ve never voted Republican, and I won’t in 2012, but I will be staying home.

        • mlindroo

          Actually, I predict Obama (if relelected-) will hold the line on allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire. Why shouldn’t he? He won’t have to run for reelection again so he can afford to break his promise regarding the middle class tax cuts as well.


        • ram6968

          John Boehner is selling the current CBO baseline to his caucus to pass this bill, and the current baseline includes an expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts. The only way for the Bush Cuts to be extended is if the “super congress” committee offsets it with tax hikes or tax reform in other areas. Going after the Bush Tax Cuts in the committee would not count as reducing the deficit, because the baseline already assumes they will expire.

    • medinnus

      A functioning economy?

  • Frumplestiltskin

    drdredel, all along I have considered taxes irrelevant because the Bush tax cuts will expire next year and if they all expire will dwarf the cuts, the only question is will Obama allow himself to be rolled next year with regards to them?

    • valkayec

      RE: the tax cuts. My fear is the same. I’m sure McConnell will work hard to find something that Obama wants which McConnell can use to demand the tax cuts stay in place.

    • drdredel

      So, was the demand for tax increases a red-herring so as to have the GOP not notice that they’re conceding on some other point that the Dems wanted? If so, what was it? What did we get? That’s my question.

    • DavidWelker

      I will be really surprised if Obama DOESN’T allow himself to be rolled.

      Let’s look at Obama position in the debate over raising the debt ceiling:

      (1) I want a clean debt ceiling increase.
      (2) Fine, if you won’t give me a clean increase, lets at least have a balanced plan than combines modest tax increases with much larger spending cuts.
      (3) Fine, if you won’t do any revenue increases, then I suppose it will have to be spending cuts only then.

      I think you can probably assume that the Bush tax cuts will be extended if Obama is President. I would be more surprised if they were not extended than otherwise.

      Name one time that President Obama has actually stood up to Republicans…

      I can’t think of any either.

  • DavidWelker

    I have to agree with David Frum on this. President Obama has been a horrendously bad president.

    If Democrats don’t like this deal, they can blame Republicans, of course. But more, they should blame President Obama. He is the one who has allowed Republicans to use a non-credible threat to not raise the debt ceiling as a means to extract huge spending cuts.

    President Obama has been focused on one thing and only one thing. That is his re-election. The one line in the sand that President Obama drew was that the deal had to be big enough to last through the next election.

    Where is the primary challenger? I think a rematch between Obama and Hillary would be really good for this country. I worked on the Obama campaign. What a huge mistake. This time, I would support Hillary in a heart beat.

    Democrats can do better than Obama. So can the country. He has a losers mentality.

    Ask yourself this simple question. How many Presidents have allowed Congress to blackmail them by threatening to not raise the debt ceiling? Answer: None. Not a single President has EVER allowed Congress to blackmail them, with the exception of Barack Obama.

    Obama is no leader.

    • drdredel

      This is going to be very painful to watch. As so many of his (non insane) opponents repeatedly point out… he’s a “terrific guy”. But in effect this is the same problem (albeit packaged so completely differently) that we had with W. He seemed like a terrific fellow to have a beer with… but that’s not what we need in a leader!
      Obama may be someone with whom one can enjoy a lengthy debate about [insert intellectual subject of interest here], but without a single exception he has proven himself to be the pacifist at the shoot-out.
      If you think about it, he’s actually fully responsible for having emboldened the most nut-oid faction of the GOP with all the things he’d done past. He showed them time and again that if you simply stand your ground and shake your head long enough, after much lucid and calm banter, Obama puts down the butterfly net he has brought to the gun-fight, and says fine… have it your way.
      And without a PEEP! Where’s the M*$@!r – F#^ing outrage? WHERE?

    • Redrabbit

      If you think the threat to default was ‘non-credible’ then you are completely deluded.

    • medinnus

      He really isn’t a leader as such – and to be fair, he never said he was. His campaign platform regarding executive over-reach, transparency, Imperial military expansion, torture, etc. all vanished in the mist when he planted himself into the Oval Office. He continued and expanded all those dirty Bush policies he’d been so rabid about.

      The only good thing about Obama is that he kept McCain and Queen Esther the Quitter out of the White House.

      Unfortunately, given that the GOP learned the wrong lessons from 2008′s humiliating defeat, and the Dems (as usual) didn’t follow up on their advantage because for the most part they’re spineless, corrupt cowards (y’know… “politicians”), there is no GOP candidate for 2012 likely to win for whom I’d vote. I will not refrain from voting; might as well vote for a Tea Bagger at that point. So the rabid dogs in charge of the GOP force me to vote for Obama.

      There are a lot of us “RINO”s out there, called the centrist and independent votes, and neither the GOP nor the Dems can win without us.

    • kuri3460

      “Ask yourself this simple question. How many Presidents have allowed Congress to blackmail them by threatening to not raise the debt ceiling? Answer: None. Not a single President has EVER allowed Congress to blackmail them, with the exception of Barack Obama.”

      The week after my daughter was born, she had lost too much weight, so the doctor told us we’d have to wake her every 2 hours to feed her until she got back up to her birth weight. The problem with this is that it’s basically impossible to force a newborn to wake up if she doesn’t want to, just as it is basically impossible to force her to eat if she doesn’t want to.

      I guess you could say my wife and I “allowed” her not to eat, and we “allowed” her not to wake up, but anybody who’s a parent knows it isn’t nearly that simple.

  • drdredel

    “All in all, the weekend’s events represent a smashing victory for the Tea Party and a crushing defeat for Democrats — and more of the same coming down the pike. But at least Congress will be able to recess on time next week. The deal — and the damage — is done.”

    Seriously… I have no words here other than to agree 100% with the sentiment in the article. If he felt he HAD to sign this deal in order to prevent a flatly unacceptable default then the LEAST he could have done is come out furiously denouncing it, and fuming that he has been shoved into a corner by a completely dysfunctional congress.

    Or if he had at least 1 testicle, he would have taken Clinton’s advice and just started printing money and literally said “so sue me!”.

    I’m finally and genuinely regretting not having voted for Hillary.

    • DavidWelker

      Agreed. Hillary should resign as Secretary of State and challenge Obama. It is too bad that she got entangled so badly in the administration that perhaps she feels her hands are tied…

      No matter how distasteful I find the Republican nominee, I am not going to vote for Obama in 2012. I hope his plan to demonize Republicans by giving them such a huge victory works out for him.

      • drdredel

        Ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… I’ll be driving my family into the Bay in an SUV I just stole at gunpoint from the local dealership before I vote for any of the lunatics they’ve lined up for 2012. But I’ll write in my own candidate or vote for a Green, (or maybe even just stay home) if the Dems don’t mount up and run someone with any guts at all, against him.

        • DavidWelker

          I respect that position. But I personally don’t do protest votes. I also think the best way to teach Democratic politicians not to take Democratic voters for granted is to punish them when they do.

          There really is not much of a difference between you and me. You will be depriving Obama of one vote he needs to win election. (Your own.) I will be depriving him of two. (My own, which I would have gladly given to him had he fought for what was right, plus the vote of some ridiculous voter who actually thinks Obama is acceptable.)

          I also think longer term. I can’t think of a bigger disaster for Democrats than an Obama re-election. We are basically training our representatives to capitulate to the other side and showing them that this is a route to success in their political careers.

          Anyway, I respect that you have a different approach. I just personally don’t like to do protest voting. If I was going to do a protest vote, I just wouldn’t vote at all. But, we all have our personal preferences.

        • drdredel

          I know that this sounds highly hyperbolic, but I’m thinking of “protesting” by simply leaving the country. I’m one of those people that they keep talking about desperately needing more of. And I honestly believe that it is on the backs of people like me that the vast uneducated and Rush bamboozled masses are able to keep voting against their own interests. Well… there are many other nations eager to have my skills and as I travel to them frequently I find that they keep getting things more and more “right” as we keep digging ourselves further and further into a ditch.

          As for your comment towards the disparity in our voting practices, I don’t believe my vote (statistically) means a whole hell of a lot, so, it’s much more a collective act. Like shouting “yay” at a Bon Jovi concert, when prompted to do so by the band. I’m sure no one would notice if I failed to utter a peep. But if I vote for one of the mindless buffoons on the GOP ticket, the only person I’ll be punishing is myself. So, it’s not a “protest” vote. Or to put it another way, it would be much MORE of a protest vote if I voted for a Bachman or, really, even a Romney, given WHO he’d be leader to. I think for my own piece of mind, I have no choice but to vote for someone I believe in, at least to SOME degree, and if not, then just skip it outright.

        • DavidWelker


          Your position makes perfect sense to me. I agree that from a statistical perspective, voting is highly symbolic. You should do what feels right to you. For me, I get some sort of pleasure in voting against someone in the most direct way possible when I feel that they have failed to represent my interests, when I once had every reason to believe that they would do so.

          I am more disappointed in Obama than in the Republicans, simply because I had higher expectations for him. I generally assume that Republicans are going to try to adopt policies that screw over the middle class. I just didn’t expect that Obama would roll over and let them do it.

          As for leaving the country, I think it is important to remember that politics isn’t everything. If you want to live in another country, you should do so. But probably politics should play only a tiny or negligible part in such a major personal decision.

          Look at Europe. It is shifting in a right-wing direction in response to the financial crisis and the recession. Yes, this is counter-intuitive. You would think people would recognize that it is important to come together as a community is such a crisis. But when you realize that people become less community-oriented and more defensive when they feel economically threatened, the right-wing shift makes more sense. It is basic human nature, which definitely has a dark side, both in America and Europe and anywhere you go in the world. There really is no escaping the madness of politics. You can run, but you can’t hide.

        • valkayec

          Read Matt Miller’s new column in WaPo. It may give you some ideas as well as explain what is so wrong with the whole angst we’ve gone through these last few weeks.

        • rbottoms

          Are you stupid, or do you just play it on TV?

          Sitting presidents don’t get challenged. Ever. Only dumb asses do that and expect a good outcome. If you don’t like Obama, get him re-elected and then find a worthy successor.

          Lord, Democrats can sound like the most stupid motherf*****s sometimes.

        • drdredel

          I have no reason to work (or root for) his re-election. I don’t see any notable difference between him and his opposition. They’re all actively driving us off a cliff. You’re right of course, no one is going to challenge him next year, that was not a serious suggestion, or even hope. It was just me venting. But you need to be careful not to start sounding exactly like the people that you hate, who mindlessly fall in line behind whichever cult of personality has them by the nose.
          I gather from your previous posts that you personally have a lot vested in Obama. I respect that, and I truly wish he wasn’t the disappointment he turned out to be. I was hugely happy when he was elected, but didn’t expect any messianic results. I simply wanted to see him do the things he said he would, while on the trail.
          And I am entirely aware of how his job was made just about impossible by an opposition whose only purpose is to unseat him, regardless of how badly that hurts the nation in the process. But if he doesn’t have the clout to defeat them, he at the very least has the microphone and he could and should have been using it all along to contest the prevailing media commentary that this is just two sides of a rational coin. He could and should have said over and over, “you have voted for me to represent you, but there is another branch of government which staunchly refuses to do its job and as a result we have an unshakeable stalemate in which the loser is the nation.” He should have made a recording of that statement and had it aired every night on every network at 8 and 11 pm.

    • greg_barton

      Did you notice that the author of that Salon article got just about every fact wrong about the deal? Why is that, do you suppose?

      • drdredel

        I did not… I’m (perhaps foolishly) expecting journalists to get the facts right about the deal. What are the facts and which did he get wrong?

  • nikhil_gupta

    Now I know how Republicans feel about Bush. To watch a president of your party drive years of work and hopes into a ditch is a horrific sight.

    • drdredel

      Vroom VROOOM!


    • DavidWelker

      Like Bush or not, you have to admit the man knew how to lead. You might disagree with where he was leading, but he was not afraid to lead.

      I think that many Democrats disliked Bush so much, that they failed to recognize that he actually had some attributes that you really want in a leader.

      If Bush were a Democrat, would he have caved in on the debt-limit debate like Obama did? I think the answer to the question is practically self-evident.

      Bush’s problem was that he wasn’t leading in the right direction. Obama’s problem is that he isn’t leading at all.

      • Raskolnik

        Bush did not know how to lead. Bush knew how to project an aura of confidence and self-assurance. These are valuable, even necessary, traits in a leader. But they do not in and of themselves comprise leadership.

        At this point in time, neither the House nor the Senate has put this supposed “compromise” up for vote yet, meaning a single Democratic senator could filibuster the process (assuming Jim DeMint does not do so first). It would be an amusing rhetorical volte-face, and it would also give the President the cover he needs to distinguish himself once and for all from left-wing “extremists” and use Executive power to declare he is simply going to borrow $x: f(x) = the difference between the spending authorized by Congress and the revenue Congress has handed him. It would represent an Executive power grab over the heads of the popular elements of our government, especially the House, but if the American people are collectively this stupid then perhaps there are worse outcomes than taking away some of their power for a while.

      • LauraNo

        Bush had the entire republican party and all ‘conservative’ dems voting practically lock-step with any damn thing he proposed, no matter how counter to their stated ideals. You could call this ‘leadership’ I suppose but it seems to me a more correct term might be ‘having a horde of rabid defenders at your right flank’.

  • greg_barton

    It’s too bad Frum didn’t get to use his alternate title. You know, the one he would have used if no deal had been reached today: “Obama Fails His Test of Leadership”

    Same old crap: heads Republicans win, tails Obama loses.

    And seriously, guys, grow a pair. The tax cuts will expire. And Bush caved many times. Do we have privatized social security? Did we have immigration reform? Nope and nope.

    • drdredel

      I’m not defending Bush, but I agree that he got a lot of what he wanted. Sure, he had 9/11 as a great weapon to humble and terrify the masses, but still… he was a much more effective president (albeit a total disaster, obviously).
      Obama has not had a single “win” that I can think of. People give him credit for the health care bill, but let’s be realistic, it’s a watered down piece of non-sense, and the dems eviscerated it themselves, seeing as how the GOP wasn’t going to vote for any of it, no matter how many ponys or unicorns were in it.

      He’s a dismal failure. And yes, you’re absolutely right that there are those (like the host of this forum) that will make him out to be the loser no matter what the actual story. But in this case, the broken clock happens to have matched up with the current time, and just happens to be correct.

      • greg_barton

        And I guess abandoning Obama is an effective strategy for getting what you want?

        • drdredel

          It would appear that I’m not getting what I want either way. In supporting Obama, I am reinforcing the idea that he’s “better” than the opposition. And of course, he is. But I really loathe “lesser of two evils” voting and would prefer to just wait for my (and maybe others’) silence to give someone who actually represents me the message that they should run. Obviously this is all very fairy-tale, but we live in a world where it’s virtually impossible to be heard (or represented) unless you happen to be Rupert Murdoch.
          At the moment, I am not him.

    • Anonne

      I am willing to bet that those tax cuts will get extended again sometime in the next 16 months, because that is how Obama rolls. Over, for the Republicans.

      Obama failed his test of leadership, yes. Because he’s so busy trying to win over Independents, he lost sight of the forest for the trees, and let the Teatards control the debate. He likes to think he’s smarter than Bill Clinton; in book smarts, maybe, but Clinton was better with people.

      Clinton understands that Americans respond to strength. Obama thinks they respond to reason. If that were true, that very red portion of the country that benefits from the wealth redistribution that they so loudly denounce wouldn’t vote against their interests every f**king time.

    • rbottoms

      Thank you.

      Stop crying like little girls, start a think tank, develop the policies your favored candidate will champion and get him or her elected in 2016.

  • rbottoms

    If the GOP were batshit insane assholes on Saturday, then they are still batshit crazy insane today. They’re so mean, ohhh, I’ll turn on that bad Mr. Obama who didn’t protect me from the meanies.

    I bet you’re same same shitheads who stayed home last fall and got these assholes elected in the first place because you hated the rancor of the ACA fight, which we won by the way.

    Grow the hell up and fight like you have a pair and stop trying to borrow Barrack Obama’s nuts, they seemed to be plenty big enough to make him president.. and you not.

    • drdredel

      Your argument now is we should shut up because we’re not president? I think in my taking Obama to task (after being an ardent supporter) I am exhibiting exactly the pair you are referring to! Where is your pair in honestly evaluating what is happening? You think strength is exhibited in mindlessly supporting whichever horse you happen to be sitting on?

      Don’t get me wrong rb… I’m not out to piss you off. I see you railing, and you definitely have a temper that, when provoked, makes your comments as uninteresting and irrelevant as those of the right wing imbecilles who post here, so, I’m not out to evoke that, but I’m not hearing anything other than a call to pretend that things went exactly as they were supposed to, or perhaps they went the only way they could have gone. But I’m asking (and re-asking) what was the point? And what did we get? And ultimately what would the outcome “deal” now look like if Obama had said nothing at all and just stayed at home?

      • Redrabbit

        What did we get? We got out of a default. Am I the only one who thinks that would have been worse than the current outcome?

        • drdredel

          No, but you’re missing the point. We could always “get out of default” by simply saying “Let us know what you (the GOP) wants to see happen, and we’ll just accept that the only way catastrophe can be avoided is to give in to your demands”.

          No one knows what would happen if we defaulted, but I’m happy to concede the most dire predictions as entirely plausible. However, that may have been the necessary price to pay to once and for all get rid of these lunatics. Now, instead, we have once again and this time in cement proved to them that taking hostages is the best policy since the democrats will do anything, pay any price, slaughter the most sacred cow, to prevent [you can fill in all sorts of things here].

    • Anonne

      Unlike you, I’m not an O-bot. I am proud to have no party affiliation, especially when it’s hard to tell the difference between them!

      There has to be some accountability. Without accountability, we get run over roughshod by our politicians. By rubber stamping anything and everything one tribe does, we hurt our chances to obtain good governance. He might get my vote because of the sheer lunacy of the alternative, but he isn’t getting a dime of my money.

  • Russnet

    If I’m a Republican 2012 strategist, I’m reading these posts and cheering. The Obama sunset has begun. Or has it? What I’d caution folks on both side of the aisle is, wait for immigration reform. It is now Obama’s only (and best) hope. He’s going to make every GOP candidate for his job stand up next year and say why they’re opposed to a legalization program. A few years ago I would have waived my hand and chuckled, so what? But ten years after 9/11, and since bin Laden got his, Obama is going to have a point. Do we ever want to resemble the old America again? Watch out, tea party xenophobes. Obama has some real juice left, and he is going to squeeze it.

    • drdredel

      Republicans have nothing to cheer about. Those of us who are disappointed in Obama are incensed at the GOP. They can strategize all they want. They’re not getting any (substantial) number of Obama voters, and their prospect for a 2012 presidency is as bleek as it ever was. Your points seem reasonable, but even without that particular issue (immigration), I don’t see how any GOP candidate stands a chance.

      • greg_barton

        They don’t expect you to vote republican. They expect you to stay home. They expect you to be demoralized. Since it sounds like you already are, guess what? They get what they want. And, ironically, they expect you to do exactly what you’re accusing Obama of doing: surrender. Projection: it ain’t just for teatards anymore.

      • Raskolnik

        “I don’t see how any GOP candidate stands a chance.”

        They don’t.

        I am as disappointed in Obama as I could possibly be, as he has broken every single campaign promise that mattered to me (why the HELL is Guantanamo still open?); but if you think I am going to pull the lever for whatever wingnut they line up against him… and if you think that sentiment is unique to myself…

        I share your disdain for “lesser of two evils” voting. However the memory of the 1991 Louisiana gubernatorial election has been seared into my brain. I am a Conservative who looks first to the character of the candidate and then to his party affiliation. I tend to vote Republican, especially in local contests. But I would vote for Edwin Edwards a hundred million times, if it meant keeping David Duke away from the halls of power for a hundred million terms. Fortunately, Obama is not as bad as Edwards. On the other hand, while (as far as I am aware) Michelle Bachmann is not an active member of the KKK, she might actually be more detestable to me than Duke. Although how much of that is due to the contempt bred from recent familiarity, I cannot yet say.

  • AnBr

    All of this talk about voting for the Republican candidate to teach Obama a lesson is cutting your nose off to spite your face. Vote for the idiots that got us into this mess? You may find that Obama has capitulated too much, but the last election more than amply shows us the results of not voting or making a protest vote for the opposition. Until the sane factions of the Republican Party regain control I shall not vote for any of them. I am afraid that the only way for that to happen is for them to suffer devastating losses because of these ill informed idealogues with their sophomoric notions.

    • Redrabbit

      Exactly. The current insanity raging in the GOP has become a genuine danger to the nation as a whole.

    • rbottoms

      No, it’s cutting off your balls to spite your d**k.

      You want Roe repealed, gays back in the closet, and even more money shoveled to the rich then stay the f**k home or vote for whatever blow dry fool can hide their extremism best.

      Then you’ll be crying about how it’s 100 times awfuler than you ever thought it would be and won’t some new liberal come save you.

      David Frum may act like a douche if he spends all this time berating the GOP while still voting for them, but then he’s being a consistent and loyal douche because he backs his party, even if it is overrrun with fascist leaning religious zealots and kooks.

      You chickenshit cowards want to abandon your party because the author of the first successful healthcare reform in 100 years isn’t sufficiently belligerent enough for a country where 30% of the assholes of the other party still thinks he was born in f*****g Kenya.

      Bite my shiny metal ass.

    • MaxFischer

      Agreed – there needs to be some growing up here. This “lessor of two evils” talk, etc, is reminiscent of what we heard back in 2000 when Nader toured the nation ruminating on how Gore was equivalent to GWB and siphoning Dem votes from the election.

      If not for any other reason, pull your heads out of your asses and do what is right to defend the Supreme Court against the next Scalia or Alito.

  • angeleno

    A minority of this small of a sliver should not be capable of this. The Constitution was created to protect a bunch of racist southern plantation owners. It was designed to fail. It can be high-jacked. There’s a proven way.

    Anybody who thinks otherwise can consider the 600,000 + lost during the Civil War.

    It’s a flawed document. Just think of the patent absurdity of a president who wins the election without the popular vote and then starts TWO WARS!!! No wonder the world fears us. They can see we have a flaw.

  • Raskolnik

    According to the NYT Pelosi is “noncommittal” about the deal. I imagine, far from being noncommittal, her caucus is double-plus-unhappy. Is there a chance the rank and file Democrats will refuse to allow this 11th hour surrender? Might they insist that the President “grow a pair already” and use his Executive power the way the Founding Fathers intended?

    Either way, of course, the damage–to our political system, as well as to our reputation–has been done.

    • Redrabbit

      The damage was done in November of 2010. Anyone watching that election with any sense knew that there was, at the very least, a chance that something like this entire farce would eventually happen.

      I blame the teabaggers for this, and everyone who put them in office.

  • mlindroo

    I agree with Frum that Obama & the Dems lost face a bit. On the other hand, after reading the cautious and surprisingly dispassionate comments over at the NRO Corner I am not sure how much the specifics really matter. At the end of the day, the only important thing is the debt ceiling will be raised almost without any recovery-crippling gov’t spending cuts in FY 2012 (~0.15% of GDP!). And the cut,cap and balance nonsense did not go anywhere. Another plus is there will be no more debt ceiling hostage-taking before the 2012 elections. Besides, the value of the GOP holding the line on taxes may matter little in the end if the economy recovers and Obama is re-elected. This means the Bush tax cuts will expire anyway.

    The main downside is that a Pandora’s box has been opened: the GOP has set a dangerous example by playing politics with the debt ceiling. Will future Democratic majority leaders retaliate by calling for e.g. tax hikes on the rich as a precondition for agreeing to increase the debt ceiling? If history is any indication, future Republican Presidents will not be able to achieve balanced budgets.


  • Rita719

    Voting against Obama or not voting at all will get us the Ryan Budget plan, more conservative supreme court justices, a constitutional amendment against gay marriage, the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the abolishment of minimum wage laws, probably the end of the equal rights amendment, and the end of freedom of religion, unless you’re a “Christian” of course. Maybe it is time to move to another country.

    • talkradiosucks.com

      And that is why Obama no longer feels compelled to fight for the liberal policies he’s supposed to embrace but doesn’t. It’s the same dynamic that the tea party frauds complain about against “RINOs” and for the same reason. The system is designed to cater to the middle, not the edges.

  • Moderate

    As a Republican, I’m happy with this outcome. It’s almost everything we could have hoped for. I’m bothered by the possibility of defense cuts, but it looks like that scenario has been safeguarded against.

    Yet how we got here could have done serious harm to the country. This needs to never happen again. Obama should insist, as a condition of renewing the Bush cuts, that the debt ceiling is retired permanently.

    • Raskolnik

      Why do cuts to defense bother you, “as a Republican” or otherwise? Do you subscribe to the notion that throwing money at a problem makes it go away? Do you think you can buy a dollar of security with a dollar of defense spending? Does that even make sense as a proposition?

      We spend too much on our military, period. Republicans of the contemporary period would do well to heed Eisenhower’s advice.

      • Moderate


        Your blithe “I don’t know what needs to be cut, I just want it cut” attitude towards defense is the liberal mirror image of the Tea Party drive to gut the social welfare programs.

        People who know what they’re talking about – i.e. nonpartisan defense analysts, military leaders – have stated that America’s overseas missions would be compromised by the kind of defense cuts Harry Reid wanted.

        How much should we spend on defense? I’m with Frum: figure out how much it will cost to maintain American supremacy, and allot that amount.

        • Raskolnik

          No, I know what needs to be cut. We can start with the JSF. We can move on to our nuclear arsenal. We can also shut down our European bases.

      • drdredel

        No one looks at this honestly. Our defense budget is (just about 100%) the most elaborate welfare program in the history of socialism. And the funniest thing is that just because it has the face of war, rather than the face of social engineering and collective wealth redistribution on it, the Right is endlessly happy to support it!

        Can you imagine what would happen if Rush and Hannity suddenly exposed it for what it was and started talking ad nauseum about how all we’re doing is paying minorities to not be in the streets, and giant corporations to hire low skilled workers to stand in factories and bolt together machinery that supports the direct welfare recipients?

        In the context of such a conversation, we could potentially reduce our military budget by 80% and say “why don’t we spend some significant portion of this on more direct welfare (and social bolstering programs, like education and medicine) programs and leave the rest in the kitty?!

        Please by all means, if you disagree, enlighten me in how our defense budget has anything whatsoever to do with actual “defense”. When was the last time we were defending ourselves with this money? WWII?

        • Moderate


          …all we’re doing is paying minorities to not be in the streets…

          Your race-baiting is not going to work. This is not a racial issue.

          Why don’t we spend some significant portion of this on more direct welfare?

          This question assumes that defense spending is extraneous and can be re-directed to other ends. I strongly disagree with that premise.

          When was the last time we were defending ourselves with this money? WWII?

          Defense is not limited to literally defending American turf from an overseas invasion. That’s an infantile view.

        • Raskolnik

          “Defense is not limited to literally defending American turf from an overseas invasion.”

          Since when?

          And, if “defense is not limited to literally defending,” why should anything be limited to what it literally means? Why not call Wednesdays Froo-Froo Days and divide them into eighteen hours of 36 minutes each?

        • drdredel

          I wasn’t race bating, I was stating a fact. The vast majority of the people in the military are underprivileged, and they use this as a means to get out of poverty and improve their lot in life. I have absolutely nothing against the government playing such a role, I just prefer we’d call it what it was.

          And as Roskolnik points out, if we’re not going to call it what it is, then we may as well just stop arguing about anything and just use money from any program towards any purpose without rhyme or reason.

          All I’m asking for is honesty and transparency. Where does the government actually believe these “defense” budgets get spent on actually defending us from something?

          The coast guard largely defends us from weekend overturned boaters (arguably the most useful of the bunch), the rest are either sitting around on foreign bases or more recently, invading foreign nations (without even the benefit of actually conquering and looting them! Where’s my OIL?! and why don’t I have 9 wives in Burquas yet?).

          It’s become such a non-starter as a conversation that no one even bothers to examine the issue. Your response doesn’t attempt to correct anything I’m saying. It acuses me of political incorrectness and vaguely suggests that I may be missing the forest for the trees, but I’m not seeing any forest and the trees are all coffee tables. If I’m wrong, I’d love to know how.

        • Moderate


          And, if “defense is not limited to literally defending”

          You cut off my quote, and completely changed the meaning. If you’re going to be dishonest, you’re not worth responding to. So either correct that or don’t expect further comment.


          I wasn’t race bating, I was stating a fact.

          You WERE race-baiting, and that is the EXACT same weak-ass defense that degenerate racists use after saying something horrible (“If we aborted all black babies, then crime would go down. Wait, why are you upset?! I was stating a fact!”).

          Where does the government actually believe these “defense” budgets get spent on actually defending us from something?

          Has it occurred to you that other people know more than you do?

          Furthermore, has it occurred to you that these people have reached different conclusions than you have not because they’re wrong, but because you’re wrong?

          Our military leaders – a.k.a. people who know more than you do – have concluded that our missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, etc. are keeping us and our allies safe.

        • Raskolnik

          Let me get this straight. Your problem with my representation of what you said–which was that you said “defense is not limited to literally defending”–is that I didn’t include “…American turf from an overseas invasion.”

          My only question is: what else would we defend? And against what would we defend it?

          I stand by my reply. If “defense is not limited to literally defending,” then nothing means anything and language is useless.

        • Moderate


          This morning we are closer to fulfilling the right’s sneers about Obama being Carter’s second term than at any time since 2008.

          Unfair comparison (I know you weren’t making it). Republicans should avoid this, not to defend Obama, but to avoid cheapening just how bad the Carter Administration was.

        • talkradiosucks.com

          Moderate: Appreciate your drawing a distinction between me and the mouthbreathers who just say he’s the same as Carter, but I was making that comparison in one way: style. There’s a fine line between being a strong, silent type, and just coming off as a wimp. In his handling of this issue, Obama has stepped over that line, IMO, and that of many others — including many of his most strident supporters.

          This entire situation should never have been allowed to happen at all. It did in large part because of his lack of leadership. That’s not to excuse the behavior of the Republicans, of course.

        • Moderate


          I have a different take on this. Obama supporters, Democrats, liberals, and some on the far right will be upset for a week or so, but this will blow over and be forgotten by next year. There’s always a new story, and most people don’t have attention spans that can be measured in months.

          Obama did about as well as he reasonably could have, given the circumstances. He was dealt a bad hand.

          Could he have played it differently? Sure. David Frum suggested that Obama play hardball: threaten to allow default, withhold Social Security checks to red states, cut payments to defense vendors, etc. But you have to know that this would have invited the political equivalent of nuclear war. Impeachment crisis, unbridled hatred, and a partisan rift that would make the past 3 years seem mellow. If you think it’s bad now, it could be much, much worse.

          So Obama maintained some possibility for civility in politics, which is admirable and speaks well to his character. I don’t see that as weakness, but as a deliberate and painful choice to do what he thinks is best for the country. Obama is acting like Batman at the end of The Dark Knight: taking the fall for something he didn’t have to. He’s the president that America needs him to be.

          Carter, on the other hand, was a ninny.

        • Moderate


          Your problem with my representation of what you said–which was that you said “defense is not limited to literally defending”–is that I didn’t include “…American turf from an overseas invasion.”

          Correct. Defense encompasses much more than only defending American soil from an overseas attack. It also includes: defending our allies, defending our overseas security interests, and defending the world against the evil of tyranny.

          The thinking that defense should be limited to attacks on America has been expounded before, by isolationists in the 1930s. Were it not for Roosevelt, isolationists would have contentedly allowed Nazis to conquer all of Europe.

          If “defense is not limited to literally defending,” then nothing means anything and language is useless.

          Think about this in another context and you’ll see why you’re wrong. If you were talking about social welfare (encompassing all programs to support the poor), and I responded that welfare (referring to the AFDC/TANF programs) was ineffective, you would correctly say that “welfare is not limited to just welfare in the AFDC sense.”

          And then, when I edited your quote down to “welfare is not limited to just welfare” and crowed that language is meaningless, you would feel the frustration that I now feel.

        • Raskolnik

          1) “Welfare” is ineffective. But TANF is not intended to be “effective,” it is intended to be a safety net. What is effective as a safety net is not effective as a general policy nor is it intended to be effective for anything other than the most extreme emergency cases.

          Even Paul Ryan acknowledged the need for a safety net. The way he expressed it was that he wanted to see that the “safety net” does not become a “hammock.” One might take issue with his budget proposal, but his rhetorical point is well-taken.

          Consider hospitals. Most of what they do is not in the ER. The ER exists, but it is intended as a supplement to the main services offered. Now, people have been abusing the ER right left and center. Actually a lot of the problems in the healthcare system come from people going to the ER for chronic conditions. For general care, to say nothing of preventive medicine, the ER is at best highly inefficient and at worst utterly useless. Should we therefore get rid of the ER?

          2) I am not saying that we should put money into generic “welfare” programs. I am saying that we spend too much on our supposed “defense.” You have as yet failed to deal with the substance of Dr. Dredel’s argument, which is that our current defense spending amounts to “welfare” on a scale unimaginable if we were talking about solar panels or even nuclear reactors.

          Why is it “welfare” if we subsidize single mothers, but not “welfare” if we subsidize the CEOs of Raytheon and Halliburton?

          3) I am, furthermore, saying that this outrageous level of “defense” spending makes us less secure, in many different ways and for many different kinds of reasons.

        • drdredel


          calling minorities “minorities” or noting that the vast majority of our military comes from underprivileged circumstances is in no way “racist”, but you’re welcome to accuse me of racism if it helps you actually address my point… as a nameless voice on the internet, I’m not overly concerned with your perception of my inner workings. Keep in mind, however, that the reason for my making this point wan’t to denigrate anyone. I was just drawing a comparison between social programs. On one side we have the welfare system (in all its various forms) which is specifically designed to help the underprivileged. On the other we have the military, which asks volunteers to join an (arguably make-work) organization so as to give them some of the nation’s money and help them better themselves.
          You’re welcome to call me a racist, but I’d love to see how you see these two programs as fundamentally different.

          As to my not knowing everything (or even all that much), this is why on no less than 3 occasions now I have asked someone to point me in the right direction in correcting this “mistaken impression”. Mind you, I know a thing or two about world history and military history in particular, so, I’m not in need of any 101 schooling, but your suggestion that there are “experts” out there that have done the calculous and decided that [name your war here] is keeping us safe is specious at best! You need me to find you counter experts to say the opposite? I’ve got tons.
          The stated purpose of our military is to defend us from external threats. No one would have reasonably argued that the USSR wasn’t very much a threat, and I would even say they may be again, at some point in the not too distant future, but TODAY (and for the last 20 years), who exactly is it that we’re worried about that requires us to spend more than everyone else combined AND more than we can afford?

          Please don’t cite our intervention in WWII as an example of the difference… again that is a very weak argument. Of course if there was a 1937 Germany brewing up somewhere, I’d be very eager to maintain a robust defense against such a mounting threat… but that’s simply NOT what we have today, so, that argument falls completely flat.

          You think it’s a coincidence that we keep falling further and further behind other industrial nations on how educated our kids are and how “nice” our lives are? You realize we’re not even on the top 20 list of most happy citizenries (according to multiple studies, across many data points of “happiness”?
          It’s not a zero sum game, but there IS a finite amount that we have to spend and we’ve got to realize that this particular line item is NOT getting us the return on investment that you’re suggesting it does!
          Lastly, there are many ways to be “safe” and I would argue (and many “experts” agree) that most people are much more concerned about the safety of their health, and their personal wealth (and how those two are connected) than as to which invading viking horde is coming to sack them next. People in america live in terror of losing their health insurance and are incapable of making rational life decisions about going to school, switching jobs, moving, starting a business, etc because they’re living in perpetual terror of getting sick. How about using some of that “defense” budget on protecting us against THAT enemy?
          Again… I ask because I want to know how I’m wrong, not because I’m convinced that I’m right.

        • Moderate


          [four paragraphs about welfare]

          You have completely missed the point.

          I am, furthermore, saying that this outrageous level of “defense” spending makes us less secure

          With no supporting claims whatsoever, that’s not terribly convincing.


          You’re welcome to call me a racist…

          I don’t think you’re a racist. What you did was inappositely insert race into an unrelated discussion: that doesn’t make you a racist, only a race-baiter. It’s much more an indictment of your argumentative skills than your views on race.

          People in america live in terror of losing their health insurance and are incapable of making rational life decisions about going to school, switching jobs, moving, starting a business, etc because they’re living in perpetual terror of getting sick. How about using some of that “defense” budget on protecting us against THAT enemy?

          You’re right. Joblessness, poor health, uncertainty: these terrorize people. Any nation that calls itself compassionate must help defend its people against threats to their quality of life.

          I care deeply about these issues. I want to reduce poverty, reduce educational deficiencies, reduce lack of health care access. The difference is that I believe the best way to achieve these goals is generally not with/through the federal government. So for me it’s not a matter of diverting more tax dollars to new programs. Although the government has an occasional role as a stopgap/last resort, I’d prefer to alleviate social problems through private measures.

          This is why I donate time and money to my Church. It does more to help the poor than any welfare agency ever created.

          What makes defense different is that it can’t be done privately. The federal government is the only entity capable of offering this service. Unlike welfare, keeping defense strong IS a matter of diverting more tax dollars to its programs.

          Again… I ask because I want to know how I’m wrong, not because I’m convinced that I’m right.

          Well, I appreciate your modest tone. I wouldn’t respond if I felt that you were entrenched in your view. I’m open to changing my mind as well.

  • Primrose

    Democrats you have let the Republicans change the message. Don’t. The Republicans don’t want to pay the political price for this ruthless extortion, so they are changing the message to Obama is weak, he could have prevented it, switching the blame. Don’t let them. Don’t let them.

    We have been held hostage by the Tea Party so that Hedge Fund Managers get another couple of million. That’s the truth. That’s what we need to say. If you let them change the message, no amount of strength will win.

    • drdredel

      Don’t worry… I have more than enough vitriol to go around. The message is clear. The GOP are fanatics and sociopaths and Obama is the elder statesman who came to the coral armed with a butterfly net. I don’t think anyone is going to be able to modify that message anytime soon.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    When you’re right, you’re right. And Frum is right.

    This is a failure of leadership by the administration. And it may well cost Obama his re-election. Regardless of policy issues, if there’s one thing Americans don’t like, it’s weakness. This morning we are closer to fulfilling the right’s sneers about Obama being Carter’s second term than at any time since 2008.

    • Moderate


      I have a different take on this. Obama supporters, Democrats, liberals, and some on the far right will be upset for a week or so, but this will blow over and be forgotten by next year. There’s always a new story, and most people don’t have attention spans that can be measured in months.

      Obama did about as well as he reasonably could have, given the circumstances. He was dealt a bad hand.

      Could he have played it differently? Sure. David Frum suggested that Obama play hardball: threaten to allow default, withhold Social Security checks to red states, cut payments to defense vendors, etc. But you have to know that this would have invited the political equivalent of nuclear war. Impeachment crisis, unbridled hatred, and a partisan rift that would make the past 3 years seem mellow. If you think it’s bad now, it could be much, much worse.

      So Obama maintained some possibility for civility in politics, which is admirable and speaks well to his character. I don’t see that as weakness, but as a deliberate and painful choice to do what he thinks is best for the country. Obama is acting like Batman at the end of the Dark Knight, taking the fall for something he didn’t have to. He’s the president that America needs him to be.

      Carter, on the other hand, was a ninny.

      • Traveler


        Good Take. Thanks for your breath of reasonableness. I kind of see it the same way. No choice in the matter. However, from what the head of US N&WR says, he could have gotten $800B of tax deductions eliminated offered by Boehner, but insisted on another $400B. That is what apparently killed that deal. So maybe he reached too far, and got hisself bitslapped by the troglodytes.

  • JimBob

    The American people lose on this deal. I saw a rarity on TV yesterday. David Gregory a member of the media elite and host of Meet the Press being honest. Talking about how 2/3rds of the budget is on auto pilot with 75 million baby boomers looking at retirement. And all the politicians did is kick the can down the road again.

    Until Democrats accept the fact that the entitlement state has to be reformed we are heading over the cliff.

  • Solo4114

    I think it’s a bit early to be counting chickens. We don’t really know what the long-term effects of this will be in political terms. We can speculate, sure, but we still won’t know how the electorate has internalized this latest round.

    Bear in mind that this is now…what, the FOURTH time the GOP has taken some crisis and basically made it worse through sheer intransigence? You’d figure at some point the voters will get sick of this crap.

    Also, let’s not forget two other factors: funding and opponents.

    The GOP can’t just “Run anyone” against Obama, even if he’s weakened after this (and I’m not entirely convinced he is in the long run). They have to actually have a semi-credible candidate. And so far, Romney is the only one who appears to have ANY shot at winning, and we’ll see what that’d do for GOP turnout in November.

    Let’s also bear in mind a critical issue that’ll come in the wake of this: funding. The GOP was willing to basically screw their own money men, and now has to go back to them and say “But wouldn’t it be worse with Democrats?” If I’m a money guy, I’m seriously wondering whether it would. At least the Democrats are predictable. So I’d figure fundraising will continue to be a problem for the GOP.

    All that said, the Obama messaging team may very well drop the ball. I actually agree with Axelrod that this SHOULD be a moment where the GOP brand is irrevocably tarnished. But the problem with the Obama White House team is that it is too content to sit back and let the media play itself out, rather than trying to dominate the conversation and define the message. It should be clear that this was a deal made with Democrat and the President’s noses collectively held, because Tea Party lunatics and GOP cowards were willing to allow the global economy to tank — or at least that’s what the message OUGHT to be coming out of the Democrats’ corner.

    All too often, however, the White House and the Democrats will simply assume that the correctness of their position will be self-evident to anyone looking…and as a result, the GOP will skate away again. See also, “Death Panels.” Factor in a media that is happy to have conflict and back-and-forth rather than reporting facts or calling people to the carpet when deserved, and you’ve got a recipe for this little incident to be completely forgotten by 2012. The Dems need to ensure that NOBODY forgets this and that they win the messaging war moving forward, or this will indeed be a failure on their parts (although not simply Obama’s — frankly I think he should be staying above the fray in situations like this).

  • paulw

    Mr. Frum, instead of complaining about Obama’s failed test of strength – because Obama has been more about getting things done via compromise, which is sad but true – why not complain about the greater failure by your Republican colleagues. You know, the ones who failed to stand up to their teabagger “kill-government” handlers who were pushing for a default that would have crashed the global economy.

    This was not Obama’s fault. This was all Norquist’s fault.

    • LauraNo

      Frum assumes an air of caring about the state of conservatism but he is a card-carrying promoter of the GOP. Whatever he says or does has to be taken with a grain of ‘how does this help the GOP?’ salt.

  • Oldskool

    the Republicans have done terrible damage to their brand. Because now they’re thoroughly defined by their most strident voices.”

    What’s not to believe. It’s no different than how their brand has suffered in Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, etc, whose govenors have acted the same way as the teabaggers in Congress.

  • nhthinker

    All spending cuts… the tea party wins… the American people win… Obama loses. The liberal peanut gallery here must be crying.

  • sinz54

    Yes, progressives are really freaking out now.

    Paul Krugman and his fans are on the verge of total hysteria: The very viability of the American system of government is being jeopardized by those ruthless Republicans! (Yeah, like America never had ruthless politicians before in its entire 230 year history. One of the most ruthless was Lyndon Johnson, who as President got Congress to pass Medicare.)


    Ditto over on FireDogLake.

    Most importantly, progressives have come around to my view of Obama: A decent man, but who is a spineless jellyfish who doesn’t seem to want to fight for anything.

    This is a case of “Be careful what you wish for; you may get it.” For decades, progressives were accustomed to railing against the “imperial Presidency,” Presidents who were ruthless enough and strong enough to get America behind their vision.

    Well, progressives finally got what they wanted: The “non-imperial President.” Obama’s style of governance would be familiar to Thomas Jefferson: He’s basically an administrator who prefers to “lead from behind.”

    • sweatyb

      I think the reason Krugman, FDL, and progressives are in hysterics is that they’re finally facing the fact that the liberal viewpoint is powerless in this country. No matter how ridiculous the right-wing gets, they will always be taken seriously. No matter how serious the left-wing gets, they will always be ignored.

      With this deal, the President has established himself as a moderate conservative. (There are no more moderates in the Republican party.) Even his first offer in these negotiations balanced minor tax hikes with huge cuts in spending, including Medicare/Medicaid. Tacitly accepting the argument that what we need now in the face of high-unemployment and depressed demand is government spending cuts.

      Liberals wondered why campaign-trail Obama wasn’t using the bully-pulpit to eviscerate the hostage-taking Republicans? The answer is simple: he agrees with them in principle. So the debate was always just a matter of degree.

      Seen from that angle, the President didn’t really give up that much.

  • Nanotek

    “Good luck with that.” DF

    + 1

    “First, there will be big spending cuts, with no increase in revenue. Then a panel will make recommendations for further deficit reduction — and if these recommendations aren’t accepted, there will be more spending cuts.” Paul Krugman

    Obama tugs tail every time Republicans puff up their chests. Unfreaking real.

  • Raskolnik


    If I am “missing the point,” please explain it again. Just to reiterate, my question is:

    Why is it “welfare” if we subsidize single mothers, but not “welfare” if we subsidize the CEOs of Raytheon and Halliburton?

    Also, you haven’t yet cited any “experts” on why perpetual war makes us safer. Meanwhile, out there in the real world, our continued military presence on Muslim holy ground continues to be Al Qaeda’s #1 recruiting tool.

    Finally, my point is that the strategic border is no longer with Russia and our overseas bases mostly serve as a jobs program with hefty benefits to those seeking higher education. I see no reason why a jobs program with hefty benefits for those seeking higher education need be centered around the military, particularly in peacetime.

    There is every reason to be vigilant on the South China Sea, but the bottom line is that when it comes to defense spending–as with any and all kinds of spending–quality is more important than quantity. I would have thought this belief fundamental to Conservatism, at least as I understood the term. But then again if “defense is not limited to literally defending [American turf]” then I guess anything goes, or whatever.

  • steelydan

    I went to bed last night thinking this was a terrible deal. But after reading Ezra Klein this morning I’m reconsidering.

    Basically, Obama’s perceived weakness in these negotiations will embolden the tea partiers to be even more intransigent when Phase II of this deal kicks in. If they are as intransigent in this next phase (or even more intransigent), the triggers automatically guarantee over a half trillion dollars in defense cuts, all the while protecting Social Security and Medicaid (and protecting Medicare benefits).

    On top of that, if the Republicans refuse to consider modest tax increases on the wealthy, the Democrats leverage is to just let the Bush tax cuts expire, thus raising much more revenue than they’ve been asking for. The Bush cuts expire after the election, so the political fallout would be minimal for Democrats, and thus the incentives for holding their ground even greater.

    I’m still not convinced this is a good deal, but I am reconsidering my initial pessimism. This could potentially be a huge backdoor win for Democrats and no one quite realizes it. Of course this is all contingent upon the understanding that Obama has been playing a long game for the past two years, something which I’m not entirely sure of.

    • talkradiosucks.com

      What you’re missing is that there never should have been any deal or negotiation at all.

      This is like claiming that it is a “compromise” when the people holding up the bank agree to take five million dollars to let the hostages go rather than ten. The problem isn’t just losing the money, it is the message sent to the next set of hostage-takers.

      Krugman put it best: “For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.”

      • steelydan

        I actually agree with you on principle. But logistically, when the Republicans try pulling this again in six months when Phase II begins (and they will try it again for the very reasons you state), the mechanisms are in place so that the Democrats literally don’t have to concede anything and: they will get higher taxes than they asked for, they will get a huge cut to defense spending, and they have protection for Social Security and Medicaid. The GOP can stonewall as much as they want over the next year and a half, but the trigger mechanisms benefit Democrats substantially.

        I agree that this is not a perfect deal, and that the entire exercise was pointless, futile, and even dangerous, but in the end, as Republicans celebrate their apparent victory, the Democrats and Obama seem to have emerged with the upper hand. It actually seems to illustrate the point that David Frum made last week of letting the Tea Partiers think they’ve won when in reality it’s a short-term pyrrhic victory.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    Since I am not a nihilist, I am frankly relieved the world will not fall apart this week.
    It is kind of funny all the people who mentioned leaving the USA. I did 15 years ago, we are more connected than you realize, there is a saying when the US sneezes the world gets a cold. Certainly this whole manufactured crisis sucked and Obama does deserve his share of the blame but when the teabaggers chose to drive the car into the other lane playing chicken might have seemed like the right thing to do at a great distance, but up close sometimes you gotta swerve away from the maniacs.

    This is a question of demographics, the teabaggers are old and senile, witness poor Jimboob of the “my son am an asternaut and me garadamacated from Harvale” the trick is to wait for him to die off and the future will belong to the sane.

  • Another Matt

    Remember that this was also one of the first big fights on a matter of national importance involving the tea-party House members. I think it’s fair to say that it’s a surprise 1) that they were SO extreme on this (this isn’t your dad’s “religious right” anymore) and 2) that the House GOP leadership seems to have no cachet with them at all. In many ways this fight was as much about Boehner’s weakness as Obama’s, and the GOP establishment has a lot to answer for and a lot of planning to do before 2012. The waters are bloody now and it would surprise me greatly if the administration doesn’t take a different tack going forward.

    Also, the backroom shenanigans and quid-pro-quo earmarks and throwings-under-of-buses that usually characterize (and lubricate) these kinds of deals seem to be missing, and I think I’d almost rather have them back. Forget leadership and accomplishment — the congress seems incapable of even simple administrative tasks without it turning into a shitstorm.

    • Another Matt

      Yglesias is on point on this also, when he says that institutions tend to trump leadership. Everyone is impressed with Governor Cuomo’s leadership on gay marriage in NY, but it would not have happened if there needed to be a 60% supermajority for it to even come up for a vote, no matter his dazzling leadership skills. Ditto, in reverse, on the public option (don’t forget how important Scott Brown’s victory was during the ACA fight), and just about any other matter of importance to progressives. The legislative institutions are currently designed to fail, and no pixy-dust “leadership” is going to solve it.

  • jamesj

    “Good luck with that.”

    Seriously. Hard to imagine what the hell they are thinking. My impression is that the onslaught of baseless attacks and slogans (“socialist”, “where’s the birth certificate”, “cutting taxes will help the economy”, “cutting taxes will help the deficit”, “obamacare kills old people”, “obama is anti business”, “obama is responsible for the debt”, “obama is responsible for the recession”, etc.) has really derailed the ability of the white house and their staff to stay on message with any of their own goals. To be honest, I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime. But that doesn’t excuse the lack of pushback.

    If this guy went on TV, unloaded his frustration with this madness, and then told us what he really believed I could probably get behind it and it’d probably be cathartic for the country. But maybe he doesn’t truly believe in much. I mean, he hasn’t mentioned a word about austerity measures slowing economic growth or slowing employment. It seems like a no brainer politically and empirically.

    I can’t imagine why he’s gone along with nearly everything the extreme right wingers in the House wanted. If you are going to cave on every demand, at least explain what you believe in and why you think your opponents are wrong. Just caving to every demand without much explanation is an implicit acceptance of their position. The Overton Window just dropped over Niagra Falls and is moving with lightening speed towards the bottom of the lake. I honestly think most American citizens, most economists, most academics, most elected officials in the country, and most people on earth would understand the flaws in the selected policy if it was just explained to them clearly. Sure, the Tea Party has a super simple story fit for consumption by babies and that’s why it sells so easily, but you can explain the more advanced views on these subjects in terms that the average voter understands with ease.

    Maybe if you are not the type of person who can wallow in the mud with the rest of the pigs you’re not the kind of person that can get any work done in Washington these days. We may have the anti-LBJ on our hands. I’m not sure if I am disappointed in the white house or the country’s general malaise.

    • elizajane

      The only time Obama ever got a tiny bit angry and frustrated in front of the cameras, the right-wing press and talk-radio trotted out the “man-child has temper-tantrum” line, quick as a whip. It’s as close as they’re allowed to get to “angry black man” in polite company. You know that if he did it more often, those memes would just grow.

  • LFC

    I’m trying to sort this out. Obama set up a debt commission a year and a half ago, tasking them with coming up with a set of spending cuts and revenue increases to move us towards more balance in the budget. They came up with their recommendations which were immediately shot down by Republicans, including Paul “Fantasyland” Ryan.

    Flash forward to today. We have a deal. (OK, we MAY have a deal. It ain’t over ’till the President puts pend to paper.) If the budget process fails, a partisan commission (sound familiar?) has to come up with ways to cut spending. If he let’s the Bush tax cuts expire as designed, he gets revenue increases.

    To recap, he said he wanted a compromise position that would hurt on all sides because he’s a realist and a moderate. If he’s reelected and this plays out the way it seems almost guaranteed to play out, he gets exactly what he put forth a year and a half ago. If he’s not reelected, the deficit and the massive cost of extending the Bush tax cuts is immediately owned by the Republicans … as it should be.

    Maybe somebody can explain to me exactly what Obama has given up in terms of his long-term goals.

    • sweatyb

      It all makes more sense if you think of the President as a moderate conservative.

      • LFC

        I’ve always thought of him as a moderate. If the eventual outcome of all this is lower spending and higher taxes creating smaller deficits, I’ll be thrilled.

        • JimBob

          His voting record in the Senate was to the left of Teddy Kennedy. If that’s your idea of a moderate then there’s no hope for ya

        • LauraNo

          Oh JimBob, come on. He was representing the people who sent him there. Do you expect a democrat to go to the Senate and vote against democratic bills? There are quite a few about, but you have no right to condemn those who actually stick to the things they campaigned on.

  • Bagok

    At least the the BBA nonsense was put to rest. Republicans played the Tea Party pretty well. The old guard Republicans were the ones to save the day for the party, not the crazies.

  • zephae

    It seems that everyone that Has criticized the President this time around is just mad that Dick Cheyney didn’t get his way and we still have a Congress rather than a unitary executive.

    • Raskolnik

      The irony has not been lost on me. More than anything else, I blame the Tea Party for putting the government in a position where the most reasonable solution is an Executive power grab. Maybe we never should have had a debt limit, or maybe it served a purpose once upon a time and is no longer necessary. Okay, fine. But is this really how we want to get rid of it? Or do we actually intend to go into conniptions every time it comes up?

  • Osiris422

    From my reading of the various blogs, neither side is happy with the deal that’s on the table. Do I think cutting spending without increased revenue is a good deal? No, but I also believe such a deal was not possible with the current make up in congress.

  • elizajane

    The markets are so reassured to know that the Tea Party is in charge that the Dow is off 75 points today. And Mitt Romney has finally spoken — against the current deal:
    “While I appreciate the extraordinarily difficult situation President Obama’s lack of leadership has placed Republican Members of Congress in, I personally cannot support this deal.”

    • Raskolnik

      Good for Romney. Obama should show as much spine…

      • elizajane

        Oh yes, it takes so much spine to grovel to the Tea Party from the sidelines — waiting until a point where it doesn’t matter much what he says.

    • LFC

      Shorter Romney: “WAAAAH! We couldn’t do our jobs because Obama didn’t lead us!”

      Just another whining Republican pansy yet again playing the victim. These guys should be international soccer stars. You know, the kind who get brushed, fall to the ground, and writhe around while holding their knee pretending to be hurt. It’s all very unmanly.

  • Slide

    drdredel I usually enjoy your comments but you are so over the top and irrational on this issue I have ignored the last dozen or so diatribes against Obama. Enough already. You keep asking, what did we get out of this? We avoided the cliff that the Tea Party a-holes were more than willing to drive us over. Yeah, yeah it sucks when you have to accommodate the hostage takers to save the victim. But it is the right thing to do and if you can’t see that then there is no sense arguing.

    If this was such a capitulation, such a loss for the Dems, such a one sided victory for the GOP, why are conservatives screaming like babies? Have you gone to any of the right wing blogs? Do you think that THEY think they “won”? Whatever the fuck that means in this context. Romney, no raging teabagger himself is against the agreement.

    So what about the deal itself. Yes, there are no tax increases in the agreement, but any agreement with tax increases would have failed. FAILED. Is that your answer? Would that have been “leadership’ to let the country go into default because you are so principled?

    There will be a commission set up for the second round of cuts. Yes, yes, we all hate commissions right but this time there actually will be consequences if the commission’s recommendations are not enacted. Consequences that both sides will find distasteful. And the commission has no restrictions on including tax increases in their plan. Seems like Obama did pretty good on that one considering what he was up against.

    And…. AND…. the Bush tax cuts will expire and the GOP can’t really do anything about it. All in all I think that he got the best deal that he possible could under the circumstances. Stop your little bitchings and get over it. Elections have consequences. The Tea Party did very well last time around and Obama had to deal with them. If you liked what we went through the last several weeks then just keep bashing Obama and the Dems, suppress the progressive vote, and let the teabaggers increase their numbers next time around. Let them take the Senate. Let them win the Presidency. That will show that weak Obama now won’t it?

    Nauseating whinning.

    • ram6968

      the deal is to cut 2.7 from the deficit based on the deficit AFTER the bush tax cuts(3.7) expire…..to extend the bush tax cuts would re-raise the deficit and they would have to find new revenue to compensate….gotta love it…obama gives them 2.7 and gets 3.7…..no bad deal there

  • valkayec

    This morning I’ve been listening to Bloomberg and CNBC. The markets are up, as relief sets in that a deal has been reached and hopefully will be signed. Blackrock’s Fischer said the Tea Party took this too far. But then a GOP House member of the Tuesday Group, supposedly the more moderate members of the House GOP caucus, said that this tactic is likely to happen again, now that the door has been opened for it to achieve deficit/debt reduction.

    Meanwhile, business leaders are frustrated by the sickening actions of the Tea Party Congressional members so it’s likely the GOP will see election donations fall off as a result of the default threat and the prominence of the Tea Party. Moreover, Citigroup and others are saying the deal may not be enough to prevent a downgrade, although there’s no agreement on what that will mean to the American economy or our Treasury notes. The greatest danger may be a renewed push to find another reserve currency since the world is beginning to believe that US politicians can no longer be trusted to do their jobs.

    Businesses are also concerned about the fact that a long range plan for debt reduction wasn’t struck and that Congress has not in any way addressed the issue of structural economic reforms. PIMCO’s El Erian again said that structural factors that are becoming locked in, like high unemployment and no governmental investment (i.e., R&D and infrastructure), which will cause economic growth to remain low in the future. So, the reality from business is that Congress needs to deal seriously with those areas that hold back growth: education, infrastructure, R&D investment, tax reform, improved regulation and regulatory processes as well as debt reduction.

    I’m not terribly interested in whether this deal is a winner or loser for either party. I’m more concerned about whether it’s a winner in the short term and the long term for the American people and the US economy. Let’s face it. This is no longer the 1950s when we had no real global industrial competitors so could have really high tax rates. It’s not the 1990s either when globalization was still in its infancy. (BTW, GW Bush’s trade deals accelerated globalization and off shoring of jobs, and because they gave too much away we have a too large trade deficit which only makes the national debt worse.) We’re in a whole new economic time in which we need more creative thinking and maybe a few technocrats, rather than lawyers, in Congress if we’re going to transform our economy. And far too much of it needs transformation if we’re going to unleash the entrepreneurial elements of our people.

    I think Obama’s ideas are basically correct on what needs to be done; unfortunately, he’s dealing with an angry, regressive, divisive public that he’s not able to reach on an emotional level which is where the public makes most of their decisions. Think about Reagan’s communications skills and compare them to Obama’s. And elected GOP Congress members playing politics fails to help the nation.

    • LauraNo

      I agree with everything here but for the “Obama does not connect with the people” part. That is a media generated criticism because, well, that’s what they do. He connects with everyone I know who is not a right winger or tea party hat-wearer. Besides, since when does the media know what people are thinking? Oh, and Reagan did not connect with me. At all. He rubbed me wrong although I think I voted for him. I can’t remember…