So like Young Ezra, Krugman hears that the White House is offering the chained CPI to "prove" he's willing to compromise. (As if that wasn't obvious already.) I don't pretend to understand Obama's psyche, but I can't help but notice how much he reminds me of my friends who had alcoholic parents: "Please, Mommy, Daddy, please don't fight! I'll be good!"
The question is, to whom are these things being “proved”?
Since the beginning, the Obama administration has seemed eager to gain the approval of the grownups — the sensible people who will reward efforts to be Serious, and eventually turn on those nasty, intransigent Republicans as long as Obama and co. don’t cater too much to the hippies.This is the latest, biggest version of that strategy. Unfortunately, it will almost surely fail. Why? Because there are no grownups — only people who try to sound like grownups, but are actually every bit as childish as anyone else.
After all, if whoever it is that Obama is trying to appeal to here — I guess it’s the Washington Post editorial page and various other self-proclaimed “centrist” pundits — were willing to admit the fundamental asymmetry in our political debate, willing to admit that if DC is broken, it’s because of GOP radicalism, they would have done it long ago. It’s not as if this reality was hard to see.
But the truth is that the “centrists” aren’t sincere. Calls for centrism and bipartisanship aren’t actual demands for specific policies — they’re an act, a posture these people take to make themselves seem noble and superior. And that posture requires blaming both parties equally, no matter what they do or propose. Obama’s budget will garner faint praise at best, quickly followed by denunciations of the president for not supplying the Leadership (TM) to make Republicans compromise — which means that he’s just as much at fault as they are, see?
So let’s nominate Michael Bloomberg, who will offer the exact same policies but, you know, really mean it (and supply Leadership (TM)).
No, seriously (but not Seriously): who do you think could possibly be persuaded by this budget who hasn’t already been persuaded?