Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Tough Guy Act, Again

Where have we heard this sort of thing before?   Ezra Klein writes

A few weeks ago, the Obama administration was firm that they wouldn’t budge on tax rates for income above $250,000 and that they wouldn’t budge on the debt ceiling. They’ve since budged on both. Republicans increasingly think the White House will concede more now, and that if they don’t concede more now they’ll definitely give Republicans a better deal if threatened with debt default. Whether or not that’s true, it pulls Republicans — and Boehner — to the right, as it makes it harder for Boehner to argue for a compromise now.

In his first White House speech after Election Day, President Obama had declared

But as I’ve said before, we can’t just cut our way to prosperity.  If we’re serious about reducing the deficit, we have to combine spending cuts with revenue -- and that means asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little more in taxes.  (Applause.)...  I am not going to ask students and seniors and middle-class families to pay down the entire deficit while people like me, making over $250,000, aren’t asked to pay a dime more in taxes.  I'm not going to do that.  (Applause.)

Apparently, the President wasn't so firm on that $250,000 thing (and that is on taxable, not gross, income and in 2009 dollars).  When Obama met with corporate executives a couple of weeks ago and addressed the threat of debt default, he boasted, testosterone ablaze, "I will not play that game."  Evidently, he wasn't quite so firm on that, either.

We don't have to ancient history to find President Obama playing his macho man act before backing down.    At his first press conference in November, President Bluff asserted

If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham want to go after somebody, they should go after me, I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. Ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.

It is outrageous, the President declared, as he protected his gal, challenging his critics to "go after me" instead of her.   How chivalrous.  And how disingenuous.  Dan Rather laid it out (program transcript, here) when he told Rachel Maddow (video, below, from Down With Tyranny!) last Thursday

Well, the most important thing that just happened is that President Obama has once again been backed down and away. Let`s make no mistake.

This is chalk one up for the Republicans. They can hopefully in private smile, even smirk, wink at one another. They have the professional scalp of Susan Rice now hanging on their door. They backed President Obama down and away.

President Obama for whatever reasons -- and I thought Andrea Mitchell laid out, a lot of the potential reasons for it -- chose not to fight it to the end. There will be any number of people, and not all of them Democrats, who say this tells us something about President Obama.  He was not for a friend, a close friend, a long-time supporter, someone who was eminently qualified, Rhodes Scholar, the whole -- public servant. Somebody who made a lot of money on the outside but has dedicated herself to public service.

He indicated in his press conference after the election, he made a tough talk, he didn`t back it up.

The tentative tentative (no typo) deal Klein reported may be only a trial balloon and not form the basis of a deal on the fiscal slope.   More certain, however, is Rather's observation that Barack Obama's decision accepting Rice's withdrawal from consideration suggested "he's not a guy who's going to put up much of a fight, even when he feels strongly about it.  Even when he has a strong emotional and loyalty quotient, won't fight for it."   Republicans believe, Rather observes, "President Obama can be rolled for his wallet and his watch."

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