If John McCain had been elected president instead of Barack Obama, the repeal of DADT would have been headed for veto at his desk. With Pres. Obama, however, it will be signed. It’s things like this that make even the most annoyed voter understand why they voted for Obama, especially the people who don’t pay attention to details. That’s most Americans, in case you were wondering.
It’s also why Pres. Obama had no problem ignoring what former Pres. Bill Clinton did in the 90s, which was to let tax rates for the rich rise, while giving the middle class a tax cut. Instead, Obama gave minority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and the Republicans a win on taxes, letting the top 2% benefit, while also ignoring Sen. Schumer’s much better plan of taxing $1 million plus, with the President hoping his tax bargain with the Right would seduce more Independent voters, who have walked away from Obama since health care. Meanwhile, the win has emboldened minority leader Mitch McConnell to challenge Pres. Obama on the new START Treaty.
Pres. Obama did all of this with a Democratic majority. Republicans took note.
What Pres. Obama didn’t do in the tax debate was lead. He followed the Republicans, because he won’t stand on a line against ridiculous economic policy, which includes tax cuts for the top 2%, as well as estate tax largesse. A strong Democrat would have demanded an expiration of the top tax cuts, plus pushed for an increase comporable to the Clinton years, then also adopted Schumer’s $1 million plus plan, while making a way for the “99ers” to also get relief. But Pres. Obama is not a strong Democrat.
The leftover anger over Obama’s rightward lurch on the tax deal is very real, but the media is aiding Obama by applauding his “pragmatism,” while falling all over themselves proclaiming it was a smart move for him.
What it wasn’t was strong leadership of the Democratic Party and the policy ideals for which the Left stands. It leaves progressive activists in a very bad position.
The media all ready to proclaim yet again, as Katty Kay did on “The Chris Matthews Show,” that the country a “center-right” nation whether it is or not.
Pres. Obama doesn’t care as long as his compromises and deal making lead to his reelection in ’12, which is now all anything is about.
Democratic die hards, however, have a different challenge, which Independents and the non-political-vote-once-every-four-years voters don’t care about and never consider. Is Barack Obama’s reelection more important than the Democratic Party?
Former Pres. Bill Clinton changed welfare, gave us a derivatives mess, and slapped labor with NAFTA, but today he remains the most gifted political mind of the modern era, because he also made Republicans sweat, humiliated them in a government shutdown and outplayed them when they thought he was a goner. Pres. Obama cannot claim to have cost Republicans anything, because he caved to their economics during a time when he still had a Democratic majority, something Bill Clinton didn’t enjoy. Clinton’s prowess made more evident during the Friday presser where Clinton stole the stage and made Obama look small, though the President helped by excusing himself to go to a Christmas party.
So far, Pres. Obama has passed a flawed, pro insurance health care, Supreme Court bound bill, will sign DADT repeal, and has compromised many things on which Democrats have compaigned, including himself, the last 10 years. If Pres. Obama also changes Social Security for future generations, with Independents likely to hail his “compromise” with Republicans, with a lot of helping from the media, the entire debate set up through Obama’s Deficit Commission and the tax cut scheme compromise, he may get another term, but it will be on Republican terms. We haven’t even begun to talk about the Middle East, where the Right will also prevail, or Afghanistan and other foreign policy issues.
What Obama’s reelection would mean for the Democrat Party if it comes at the cost of not only supporting Bush economics, but also the Right’s view of changes on Social Security and Medicare, is another thing entirely.