Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nice Job

David Frum (are all the thoughtful conservatives named David?) writes about the impending debt crisis and Obama's handling of it. Count me among those who agree the president has blown it by refusing to accept that the current Congressional Republicans are dishonest thieves; by continuing to believe that people on the other side are as honorable as he is:

.... How in the world did the president arrive at this disastrous predicament?

You can blame his opponents if you want. Yes, the House Republicans have played politics very rough. Not since the era of the Vietnam War has a house of Congress used the threat of national bankruptcy to gain its way on a policy point.

... from the point of view of the president's supporters, the roughness of the president's opponents makes all the more inexcusable the president's mishandling of the situation.


...the president decided to assume they were bluffing, that they would never actually do anything so reckless. Waking up to the reality of the situation too late, he commenced bargaining by offering what he assumed would be an irresistible deal. Wrong again. The Republicans did resist. So Obama offered an even better deal -- which predictably only whetted the GOP appetite for still more.

Obama never publicly branded the debt ceiling as "if the Republicans force this country into bankruptcy." He issued no public call to constituencies like the financial industry to bring pressure to bear on the issue. He did not warn that he would manage any crisis in ways that Republicans would not like. ("If the Republicans in Congress deny me the authority to pay everybody, then I'm going to have to choose some priorities. I don't think it's likely that Texas-based defense contractors will find themselves at the top of my list.")

Instead, he appealed again and again to Republicans' spirit of responsibility. Good luck with that.


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.

I understand that a president has to think about the long-term good of the country (or, at least, that a thoughtful one, unlike George Bush, would.) I assume the prospect of defaulting on our debt could be too awful even to consider (not too long ago, John Boehner evidently felt the same way, until he figured he could use the idea as blackmail.) But this seems to me to be exactly the reason to have held fast.

My criticism of Barack Obama at this point is not, as the mouth-breathers still claim, that he's out to destroy America: it's that he believes in it too much; that despite all evidence to the contrary he remains convinced that the values that got us through the first two hundred and some years still exist among the leaders of the current Republican party. That the traditions of the Founding Fathers of honest debate, of compromise for the common good, will still carry the day. Sadly, he's wrong, and it should have been obvious to him for a long time. It's been obvious to everyone else.

What's at stake here, as I've said repeatedly, is the essence of America: what has it stood for, what will it stand for. Or, more to the point, it's about choosing between the immediate gratification of some, and the future survival of everyone. Tax breaks for the wealthy, or schools. Loopholes or infrastructure. It's about a fork in the road so impactful that President Obama ought to be willing to risk his presidency on it; and, much as I'd hate to see it happen, he ought to be willing -- assuming he could make people understand the reasons and who's really to blame, whose insane theories must be rejected if America is to remain America -- to let default happen rather to give away any more, to accede to further blackmail. It'd trade short-term tragedy for long-term viability. If that's not something for which it's worth taking a stand -- it's entirely true, after all -- nothing is.

The only question is whether even such a brick to the heads of average voters would get their attention. It might well take more than even that for people to see through the fog of magical thinking that's been upon us since the phony economics of Ronald Reagan, maintained and magnified by the cold-hearted collusion between the scream machine and teabaggRs and the corporations who pay for and pull their strings. But if the fog can't be lifted, if teabaggRs get their way, we're done.

The President, and Democrats, have already given away too much. It is, in other words, time for a line in the sandbox.


Anonymous said...

Jeez Sid, lately your Blogs gettin fewer visitors than my "Andrea Yates Dunking Booth" ar last years Hospital Picnic.....
But don't worry your old head, I'm sure the Guv'mint will find away to keep those Social Security Checks goin out...
And your treading dangerously close to bein called a Racist, I mean you didn't use the N-word that rhymes with "bigger" but your clearly insinuating that if the Muslim-in-Chief(PBUH) had spent more time in College playin Poker, and less time dribbling basketballs, I mean pretending to smoke marriage-wana(Hey at least "W" did some real drugs)maybe he'd have a little better Poker Face...
I know, He got Bin Laden,
Yay enhanced Interogation.
and whats so bad bout Bankruptcy anywho? My Uncle went Bankrupt, and 10 years later he went Bankrupt again!, and he's still drivin a car he makes weekly payments on...
that way when it gets repo'd your only out a few days worth of payments...



Anonymous said...

Actually, I think President Obama is destroying the country. But not in the way the Republicans claim. He's doing it by being one.

It's pretty clear that President Obama wants many of the same things as the Republicans. He is a moderate conservative with the failed Republican policies of a few decades ago. I don't think it's reasonable to believe otherwise at this point.


SeaSpray said...

I notice a drop in comments in many blogs lately. I think it's because of summer vacation and other activities.

Sid Schwab said...

The traffic is about the same, but it's true there are much fewer comments than there used to be.

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