Well, President Obama's press conference today, defending his deal on the Bush tax cuts, won't exactly do much to mollify the people who, you know, actually voted for him in 2008. Especially this part:
You know, so this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care.
This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans -- something that Democrats have been fighting for for a hundred years -- but because there was a provision in there that they didn't get, that would've affected maybe a couple million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for a hundred million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.
Now, if that's the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let's face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are, and how tough we are -- and in the meantime, the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out. That can't be the measure of how we think about our public service.
It's clear that Obama is not speaking to his base here -- rather, he's only saying things that are certain to piss them off and demoralize them. He is, however, making his case to the larger media-consuming public, and particularly the Beltway Village, who buy rather easily into the notion that hippies need punching.
It's actually probably a smart short-term strategy, because it means there will be relatively little media blowback, since the pundit class will be on his side here. Long term? Well, we'll see how willing the troops are to come out and re-elect somebody who's been beating up on them publicly for the previous four years come 2012.
Alex Pareene at Salon observes:
While congressional Democrats are to blame for putting Obama in this position, and Obama's hands were basically tied, he continues to imagine that his liberal critics are upset with the idea that compromises need to be made in order to accomplish progressive policy goals. Some of them are that stupid. But lots of them are actually critics of White House's legislative strategy, and their apparent willingness to preemptively compromise before the negotiations have already begun.
We'll have the transcript up when it's available.
UPDATE: Here's the transcript.