On the evening of November 2nd and all through the 3rd, political pundit after political pundit called on the President to move, in Clinton-like fashion, to the center. The only exception to this was the professional left, who adamantly called on Obama to stick to his guns and ignore the shellacking that the Dems received. Stay the course, in classic decider-speak, was the best way to 2012.
Most on the right, myself included, opined that Obama would stay left and not move to the center. I stand by that assessment.
So what are we to make of the compromise between Obama and the GOP, much to the chagrin of Congressional Dems. So, before we can really appreciate the repercussions of the compromise, we need to know the substance of such.
There looks to be five key elements to the compromise:
1. All Bush era tax cuts will be extended for two years.
2. Worker payroll tax contributions (Social Security tax) will be reduced for one year by 2% (from 6% to 4%).
3. There will be favorable treatment for business investments (not really clarified what these favorable treatments will be).
4. The Estate Tax will remain at 35% vice returning to 55%.
5. Unemployment benefits would be extended 13 months.
The left- Obama included- seem to struggle in understanding how these things will affect the economy. Obama more or less admitted that he didn’t really have a choice in this because he, and the Dems, were politically outmatched. In an interestingly contorted comment during his 7 December news conference on the compromise, Obama responded to a question about the opportunistic nature of the compromise, he said, “This isn’t politics of the moment, this is what can we get done now.” Yogi Berra would be proud.
Needless to say, the left is en fuego. From the far-left blog DailyKos in an article titled Obama’s Chamberlain impersonation fuels new progressive uprising:
“But now, progressives finally seem fired up. REALLY fired up. And it’s not because of the latest GOP outrage, but because Obama may have finally capitulated once too many times. They’re lighting up the phone lines.
Opposition to the cave-in, while not unanimous, runs deep among Obama’s strongest supporters — those who gave time or money to his campaign in 2008.
These numbers track closely our own unscientific web poll — in which 75 percent of Daily Kos readers opposed the deal, and 24 approved. This shouldn’t be worrisome to the White House because these people won’t vote for him in 2012. They probably will. But will they give money and knock on doors and make phone calls and drag their social circle to the polls? Nope. They didn’t in 2010. And at this rate, they sure as hell won’t in 2012.
Did I mention that Pelosi is the best Democrat in DC?”
So, is this the pivot, or are we seeing the beginning of the fall for Obama?
A pivot implies that this was a calculated move on the part of Obama to move to the center to co-opt GOP issues and take credit for their passage. This is what Clinton did in 1995 following the Republican’s 1994 takeover of the House. He took issues that the GOP were going to push anyway and made them his so that when they got passed, who could claim them as his own.
Obama is not pivoting. He admitted as much in his December 6th announcement and his December 7th press conference. He is, at least thus far, conceding that he cannot expect a better position in Congress and so he is going to push for what he can get while the getting is good. He tried to put the best face on the compromise that he could at the press conference, even going so far as to say that he forced some issues on the GOP, but any honest observer sees this for what it is- capitulation.
To understand this, one must recognize that Obama was facing a serious, serious crisis- and he’s not out of the woods yet either because the Dems are threatening to stop this deal from going through. Imagine what popular opinion would/will be when that first paycheck for 2011 comes in and it is significantly lighter because of Uncle Sam’s taxes. The Dems can, and likely will, try to blame GOP obstructionism (which didn’t work for them in November, so why they might think it’ll work now is beyond me) but it is the Dems that control both chambers of Congress and the White House- and Obama is the face to all of that.
This makes the situation all that more serious for Obama, because the compromise now absolves the GOP of obstructionism. That leaves the Dems holding the bag for whatever may come if this deal fails to get passed by Congress. This doesn’t bode well for an Administration that has had Epic Fail after Epic Fail. With the November defeat so fresh in the minds of all, Obama needs to change the tenor of his Administration, which is why he needs some success from this Lame Duck session because the 112th Congress is going to be a very, very hard fight for him.
Which means this is the beginning of the end for Obama. November was the best indicator of what he could expect from the right and what the popular position is right now, but he has been able to rely on the left, his base, for support. Not anymore. Again, from the DailyKos exactly one year ago:
“ There is no question that organizing a 2012 primary challenge against Obama will be an difficult undertaking, but it is absolutely necessary, and will drastically increase the likelihood of either getting a decent progressive presidential candidate for our party in 2012, or else in pushing Obama back into the Democratic fold, which he has all but left at this point.“
Dan Rather, a closet liberal no more, said this following the President’s announcement of the compromise:
”This is a political nightmare for Barack Obama as president. The more-left portion of his party hates this with a passion. And politically, within his own party, if this goes through, Barack Obama will be in a position to have his shirttail on fire, his back to the wall, and the bill collector at the door. Which is metaphorically a way of saying he’s almost guaranteed — if this goes through — to have a serious challenge in a Democratic primary for president in 2012.”
That spells trouble for Obama since there is a poor track record for successful reelection bids for Presidents facing primary challenges. Consider that in 1976, Reagan challenged Ford- Ford lost. In 1980, Kennedy challenged Carter- Carter lost. In 1992, Buchanan challenged Bush Sr.- Bush Sr. lost.
The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) are hinting that they may look for a new candidate in 2012, considering they ran ads in Iowa- where the first 2012 nominating contest will be- criticizing Obama on taxes. I’d keep an eye on Howard Dean…
Obama was able to run in 2008 with almost zero scrutiny. He won’t have that luxury in 2012. The GOP candidate ran one the most inept and convoluted Presidential campaigns in history. Obama won’t have that luxury in 2012.
This is going to be like watching a train wreck, hopefully, the American people can stay off of the tracks…