But while raising taxes when unemployment is high is a bad thing, there are worse things. And a cold, hard look at the consequences of giving in to the G.O.P. now suggests that saying no, and letting the Bush tax cuts expire on schedule, is the lesser of two evils. Bear in mind that Republicans want to make those tax cuts permanent. They might agree to a two- or three-year extension – but only because they believe that this would set up the conditions for a permanent extension later. And they may well be right: if tax-cut blackmail works now, why shouldn’t it work again later? – Paul Krugman

Mark Halperin, sage of the Washington insiders, gets something very right today.

The already tiresome debate about what Obama should do to launch a comeback tells only part of the story. Yes, he needs to show people what he stands for, fight for what he believes, compromise with Republicans when it’s sensible, reshape his circle of advisers and focus on job growth and deficit reduction. But those are all tall orders, and they run counter to Obama’s instincts, the political realities of American politics for the last generation, or both.

Even if the President somehow sloughs off that Spock-like laconic demeanor and dispatches his fired-up-and-ready-to-go persona, he isn’t going to be able to change many of the dynamics that have weakened him. Republicans are emboldened by the results of the midterm elections and by their continued discipline and verve in driving the same message since Election Day (and likely well into 2011). They believe they can beat Obama for re-election and will stay on their winning path as long as it is working.

Halperin makes the argument also that the Left will be furious and “cry betrayal whenever the President cooperates with the GOP.” Movement progressives have good reason to do both, because Pres. Obama has caved on his campaign marketing from Gitmo to privacy to DADT to health care to Bush tax cuts, while ceding all territory to Republicans in a message collapse that leaves Democrats no one to follow, let alone support looking at 2012.

Paul Krugman’s brilliant column was seconded by Chuck Schumer as well, even if no leadership is coming from the White House beyond their Yes We Cave policy. From Sam Stein:

Amidst the talk of capitulation, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) suggested that rather than extend current rates for two years in exchange for other tax-cut goodies and unemployment insurance, the party might simply let all the tax cuts expire. After all, the president could come back next Congress and build his own package of middle-class tax cuts, branded under the Obama (not Bush) name.

“There are lots of people in our caucus who do have that appetite [to let all rates expire],” said the New York Democrat.

But no place was the Democratic President’s ineptitude revealed more strongly than on “Morning Joe” today. I can’t upload the entire 6 o’clock hour, but here’s a segment with Dee Dee Myers that is illustrative of the conversation.

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The situation Pres. Obama finds himself in after the midterms, understanding that he’s lost states to Republicans he held in ’08, doesn’t come close to outlining the President’s apocryphal position after his first two years in office where hope has warn out, change hasn’t happened, and the only thing Democrats are left with is a weakened Obama presidency where foreign policy possibilities are crashing amidst a domestic landscape that has revealed Barack Obama won’t even fight against tax cuts for the super rich, which aren’t stimulative, but also symbolize everything the Democrats are against.

Ironically, the only person to blame for Democrats being in this position is Barack Obama. It’s not Bush’s fault. It’s not the economic recession either.

See Gov. Chris Christie, someone with whom many New Jersey voters disagree, but like George W. Bush before Obama, Christie once again proves that the American people respect strong even if it’s wrong and will give you credit for being a man or woman of your mind. That Obama is not only weak but also very wrong makes matters worse.