In a defensive press conference this afternoon, President Obama huffed and puffed about somehow being forced into compromising with Republicans on the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, trying to sell the deal to a liberal base that has exploded in rage over his flip-flop on vowing to raise the top tax rates.
Trying to strike a strong and combative tone to appease the angry Democrats, Obama spoke about Republicans as though they were a new species of sea life, before comparing the negotiations as a hostage crisis with the American people as the hostages and the GOP as the “hostage-takers.” That is no exaggeration, but a direct quote, and he went on to call Speaker-elect John Boehner a “bomb-thrower.”
Remember when President Obama promised to be the leader for all of America, even those who voted against him? Well, it appears now that he’s casting blame in all directions, using divisive rhetoric toward the opposite party that just yesterday was heaping praise upon him, all the while using language unbecoming a President of all fifty states. At the same time, he’s lashing out against purists in his own party for criticizing the tax deal and failing to appreciate all he’s done for his liberal base.
Make no mistake, his base is livid over this, with 74% of his donors opposed to the measure. Apparently they’d rather see everyone’s taxes go up rather than have the taxes for people making $250K stay the same. Remember, that’s what all this is about – the rich aren’t getting some new tax break that will shower them with money while everyone else huddles around oil-drum fires. The deal merely lets everyone’s taxes stay the same for the next two years.
In any event, this tax deal is Obama’s first attempt at triangulation after a historic midterm defeat. His press conference today illustrated how different he and Bill Clinton are in selling a move to the center. While Clinton could have skillfully pivoted and kept his party together, today Obama managed to enrage his Democratic colleagues while at the same time insulting those on the other side of the aisle with whom he had just cut a deal.
If this is the triangulation we can look forward to from President Obama, we can expect a lot less centrism (along with a tougher sell than Clinton enjoyed) and a lot more finger-pointing and partisan blame. And, hell, the Republican House hasn’t even been seated yet. Sheesh.