David Sirota has taken up the multi-dimensional chess argument for Obama, though in a different way than his loyalists and fan boys. David begins by excusing the results we’ve had so far as simply being that he isn’t a liberal. Well, that’s an understatement, but then he says Obama is a “bizarro FDR.” Sirota is as smart as they come, but he’s not the only one screwing up the Obama story. Here’s one snippet of his piece:
They usually stipulate that the president genuinely wants to enact the progressive agenda he campaigned on, but they gently reprimand him for failing to muster the necessary personal mettle to achieve that goal. In this mythology, he is “President Pushover,” as the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman recently labeled him.
This story line is a logical fallacy. Most agree that today’s imperial presidency almost singularly determines the course of national politics. Additionally, most agree that Obama is a brilliant, Harvard-trained lawyer who understands how to wield political power.
Considering this, and further considering Obama’s early congressional majorities, it is silly to insist that the national political events during Obama’s term represent a lack of presidential strength or will. And it’s more than just silly — it’s a narcissistic form of wishful thinking coming primarily from liberals who desperately want to believe “their” president is with them.
Hip boots, please.
Mr. Obama has no driving dream as a foundation, but is simply a formidable political performer that has the gift of oratory, which has become the facade behind which he stands. He can deliver the words, but has never cared about the deeds required to make those words manifest. He is a political actor, nothing more, which is why compromise is his tool, because he has no ideas of his own for which he’s willing to risk failure to pursue. It’s always about him, never you.
None of this, however, detracts from the fact “that Obama is a brilliant, Harvard-trained lawyer who understands how to wield political power.” But power for the sake of it, without purpose, is ultimately corrupting, corrosive and eventually calamitous.
What Sirota and the progressive cool kids are trying so hard to elucidate is that Obama is doing what he is because he wants to, getting the results he wants. So far, so good, but today Sirota takes it to a place that doesn’t sustain itself.
What he and others miss by a marathon is why this is occurring, though Sirota does get this right too: The president has the political muscle to enact a progressive agenda, but he doesn’t want to. Absolutely correct, as I’ve written for a long time, but not for the reasons he writes.
It’s in the polling, which is what guides the Obama White House and reelection team and is the only thing driving this president and it begins with Pres. Obama and his team knowing that Democrats will be on board no matter how mad you get about how horrific his capitulations and compromises are to the Right.
The reason he’s going to the Right is because they’ve got the momentum and he actually is too weak to make the counter argument, because he doesn’t want the fight as much as he wants the compromise, but also because he simply doesn’t care that much to wage the battle. Progressives like David Sirota have forgotten Obama’s revulsion to the battles of the 60s and the 90s; he wasn’t kidding.
Barack Obama will do anything to avert an ideological confrontation, but with the Tea Party caucus he’s been thrown the mother of all curves. Even during the Gingrich era Republicans weren’t willing to burn Washington down over the debt, deficit or budget. The reason he served up Medicare and entitlement “reform” is because Obama thought Republicans would jump at it. As conservatives said repeatedly, pre Tea Party they would. Pres. Obama and the White House never in a million years believed they’d stiff him on it, which is why he didn’t want the details leaked, because the White House isn’t stupid and knew the Left would go berserk. But when the Tea Party did what happened? He compromised again and again to get an outcome that would stop the madness, instead of something that would rectify the problem.
Barack Obama has never waged a fight for anything other than himself, which is what his presidential campaign was about. Now he’s trying to bring every voter he can to his side for his reelection, with Democrats and progressives assured, so he’ll do anything to make that happen, relying on polling to tell him what the public thinks, what they want to hear and what he should say to reach them.
The outcome truly doesn’t matter to him as long as most of the American people side with him in the end to give him a second term. Polls are his compass, not some passion for his Republicanism, which he chose because the mood of the country long ago started swinging Tea Party and Obama has no intention of taking them on, because he might alienate voters whom he’ll need, and Democrats no longer stand for anything, so they’ll just follow the leader.
It’s this Democratic weakness that set up Barack Obama in the first place, the genesis in the Clinton era, though Clinton’s compromises were mixed with a man who relished the battle and had lines he would not cross. When you take out that fighting for people character component the result is the Obama presidency, which has no Democratic compass at all.
The problem with compromising with political extortionists is that once they find out you detest an ideological battle and are willing to give them anything they want as long as they go away and things quiet down is that it’s a never ending saga.
Once again to Obama being candid back in 2007, something most people ignored, but I still believe was a seminal moment for understanding him:
“I think that I have the capacity to get people to recognize themselves in each other. I think that I have the ability to make people get beyond some of the divisions that plague our society and to focus on common sense and reason and that’s been in short supply over the last several years. I’m not an ideologue, never have been. Even during my younger days when I was tempted by, you know, sort of more radical or left wing politics, there was a part of me that always was a little bit conservative in that sense; that believes that you make progress by sitting down listening to people, recognizing everybody’s concerns, seeing other people’s points of views and then making decisions.” – Barack Obama (on ABC’s “This Week”) – May 2007
Pres. Obama is using F.D.R. as his Democratic template and his negotiating base. Everything progressives and the Professional Left bellyaches about is simply noise, because he has no intention of taking on Republicans to make the fight. Obama cedes control to Congress time and again, because he doesn’t want to be cloaked in their ideological mist. The White House always blame liberals for not making the case for Obama, because as they see it, you’re not going anywhere and he’s not changing, so shut up and get with the program. Obama’s got to make peace with a Tea Party nation, so he doesn’t need your crap.
That he has no ideological compass or foundation from which to make an argument for anything F.D.R.-ish should go without saying by now, so any notion he’s a “bizarro FDR” is absurd. He assumes people know that F.D.R. is the base from which he navigates, because he’s goddam Democrat.
The rest is about forging any compromise he can get and he isn’t about to take on the Tea Party and the Right, because he doesn’t believe in ideological fights, which he truly thinks is fruitless, as it upsets people and alienates them from him.
If it won’t help Barack Obama, he’s just not going to do it. Democrats should be grateful, because after all, he’s their leader and he’s, duh, #winning.
The problem that Pres. Obama and his advisers have created now, however, is that when you compromise with extortionists who are also wrong on the facts of the current economic disaster unfolding in America, as Europe’s financial volcano comes close to erupting further, and you have no ideological compass of your own on these matters, the purposeless floundering and dangerous compromises can boomerang.
Sure, you may be left standing, but the carnage piled around you will be catastrophically historic.