Obama Not so Different After All

GOP annoyance that President Obama uses the raid that killed Osama to defend his record is driven by the fact that this action undercuts some of their core arguments against Obama as President.

To many in the Republican party, the election of Barack Hussein Obama to the Presidency was a shocker.  It wasn’t just his race, though that clearly added to the “different” factor.  It was his background and the fact that he had a very different heritage and image than any other American President.   Ever.

This opened the door to fantasy.   Maybe he wasn’t a real American – hence the birthers.  Others were convinced that he was an anti-American anti-colonialist at the core (Newt Gingrich played that card recently), bent on destroying America from within.   Still others thought he was a radical leftist, more socialist than liberal, bent on leading the country into some kind of massive wealth redistribution plan.   He would be soft on foreign policy because his heart won’t be into defending America.    Perhaps very telling early on was the claim that he was “apologizing” for America — even though when pressed, not one instance of an apology could be found.

Four years later it’s hard for some Republicans to give up the convenient “Obama as radical/strange” image that spurred them to mobilize for the 2010 off year elections.   But President Obama has a four year record, and it’s nothing like those scary images of Obama as some Manchurian candidate with a nefarious hidden agenda.   In fact, if you have to run on “he’s been faking it for four years his real plans will come out after re-election,” you’ve lost.

That doesn’t mean that that Mitt Romney doesn’t have a case to make for himself, or against Obama.   Every election is about an exchange of ideas and discussion of plans.  There should be disagreements and debates.   It’s just that they need to let go of the image of Obama as somehow strange, different or dangerous.   That’s been utterly disproven.  Obama has a record.

Republicans will chaffe at some of the claims made in this Obama video, but clearly the President’s team wants to run on his record, arguing that he’s accomplished a lot despite the GOP being the “party of no,” obstructing action.   The most damning clip is that of Senate Minority Leader McConnell saying the biggest priority for the Republicans is to prevent the re-election of President Obama.   That’s always a priority for an opposition party, but one would hope the biggest priority would be to fix the economy and move the country in a positive direction, working with the President if possible.

A deeper issue isn’t only that many conservatives over reacted fearfully to a man that appeared different, but that Obama is the future.   Not him personally, but what he represents.      Even if Romney were to pull off an upset and unseat Obama, the 21st Century is going to see a country more open on social issues and with white Europeans becoming less prominent.  Right now these demographic changes help the Democrats because the GOP has embraced fear.

Fear of Obama has led to over the top accusations that make the Democrats look moderate by comparison.  Fear of immigration and demographic change — the idea that America is somehow being “lost” — have led the GOP to reject President Bush and Senator McCain’s vision of sustainable immigration reform and become seen as anti-immigrant.  And though Romney may have trouble walking back the anti-immigration bravado he displayed during the primary campaign, future Republicans will no doubt switch directions.    A cadre of the GOP is lingering in the 20th Century and holding their party back.

The Democrats have their 20th Century ghosts to banish as well.   An emphasis on special interest groups, big government solutions to problems and rejection of any entitlement reform ultimately will hold them back.    Obama’s pragmatic approach has kept those forces at bay, at least for now.   Still, many on the left attack Obama precisely because he’s not different in the way they hoped he’d be.   Many liberal activists hoped he’d bring radical change and the very things the right feared; he has not.

This means that contrary to the perception that might arise in the media — especially on the more sensationalist websites like Drudgereport or The Huffington Post, this election is at base a rather boring contest between a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat.   If Obama wins a second term, don’t expect major changes in policy.   Not only will he be unlikely to have a Democratic Congress, but second terms are usually for consolidating changes made in the first term, not bold initiatives.   If Romney wins there will be symbolic attempts to change things like health care reform, but the changes of the last four years will likely prove resilient.    Democrats will probably stay in control of the Senate, but would have filibuster power on big issues in any event.

While it is distressing to see the nastiness flow or watch the waves of attack ads, often from nefarious groups supposedly outside the control of the campaigns, there is something heartening to the fact that there really isn’t much to fear about either candidate winning.   In fact, an Obama win might push the GOP to more quickly embracing changes that can make it competitive for the long term.

President Obama on the left and former President Bush on the right pose with Roman soldiers to demonstrate 'panem et circenses'

The Romans said that politics was “bread and circuses – panem et circenses.”  The circuses may now be rowdy, and there does seem to be a dsyfunction in our political discourse.   These are serious.    But the fact we have two competent moderate candidates leading their parties into the election is a sign that the American political system can work through these issues.

  1. #1 by lbwoodgate on May 1, 2012 - 18:07

    Great counter argument to Sean’s claims over at Reflections of a Rational Republican

  2. #2 by Norbrook on May 2, 2012 - 08:37

    I think the biggest problem for the Republicans right now is that the “cadre lingering in the 20’th century” is lingering more in the early 19’th rather than the 20’th, and they’re the ones who are the most likely to be the primary voters and local party officials. Which is why you now have Mitt Romney now sounding like a far-right politician, despite his past record. Which is why I don’t have as much hope as you do that if elected with a Republican-controlled Congress or one house that he would be “moderate” as a President.

    One of the things I saw out of the 2010 elections was that Republicans missed the real message the electorate was sending – mainly that they wanted a “work together” Congress. Instead they took it as a message that they had a winning strategy with the “fear card,” and it’s going to take a few bad elections for them to get the real message hammered home.

    • #3 by Scott Erb on May 3, 2012 - 18:07

      I’m been surprised by the rhetoric from the Romney camp in the past few days, it sounds like he’s still trying to win over the right wing in his own party. I don’t know, I still don’t think this election is going to be that close. I think the GOP is caught up in their own rhetoric and Romney is a weak candidate.

  3. #5 by classicliberal2 on May 3, 2012 - 19:10

    “This means that contrary to the perception that might arise in the media… this election is at base a rather boring contest between a moderate Republican and a moderate Democrat.”

    And what you’re describing, there, is a MAJOR crisis of American democracy. It’s like an election you would see in some place like Chile–the candidates are two rich guys who are basically the same, both, from a policy standpoint, are fundamentally at odds with their population on most of the issues, and the presidential “campaign” will consist of a circus of name-calling, ugly personal accusations, and great effort by each side to portray a victory by their opponent as the end of the world. It has no connection to anyone’s life–it’s a show. And no matter who wins, the public loses.

    Those Crises Of American Democracys do tend to pile up after a while.

  4. #6 by Alan Scott on May 3, 2012 - 21:45

    Pardon me, but you guys, all of you, are seeing what you want to see. First of all to think that this is between two moderates is beyond belief . Mitt may be a moderate catering to a far right base, but to say Barak is a moderate is fantasy . The only capitalist part of his make up is the crony side.. And trust me, the next election will not be is boring .

    The 2010 elections were America asking Republicans to please slow down the socialist cabal of Obama, Pelosi and Reid. Voters elected far right no compromise tea party Republicans. They left some far left no compromise Pelosi Democrats in Congress. They voted out mostly blue dog reasonable Democrats. So how can you think voters expected they would get a ” “work together” Congress ” ?

  5. #7 by classicliberal2 on May 3, 2012 - 22:07

    “First of all to think that this is between two moderates is beyond belief.”

    Correct. It’s actually a race between two conservatives.

    “to say Barak is a moderate is fantasy.”

    Also correct. The Obama, from a policy standpoint, would, only a few years ago, have been uncontroversially regarded by everyone as a conservative Republican. The “socialist” talk is hilarious reactionary crackpotism. At best, it represents a complete ignorance of this administration’s policies. At worst, a complete indifference to reality.

  6. #8 by Scott Erb on May 3, 2012 - 23:09

    Right now Obama is an establishment Democrat, he’s gotten the left far more upset with him in his party than the right. He didn’t fundamentally change Bush’s policies in Iraq. His policies are in comparative terms to the right of most conservative Europeans, or even American Republicans like Richard Nixon. But I think with all due respect to Alan, the right has become so convinced that this strange person – black, strange name, grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii — must be a socialist or an extremist because that fits the image. It’s more a rhetorical or discursive tactic that many on the right have bought into, and they can’t comprehend how the whole country can’t see it. But Obama has a record to run on, the left will support him to prevent a hard right turn, and Obama still does well with independents. Romney’s a weak candidate.

    • #9 by Norbrook on May 3, 2012 - 23:33

      I think the far left is disappointed that he isn’t a socialist extremist. However, I disagree that he’s necessarily “more conservative,” in that he’s done pretty much what he said he was going to do when he campaigned. Passing healthcare reform and repealing DADT (among other accomplishments) is not exactly what one would label conservative, even using Nixon as a standard.

      • #10 by Scott Erb on May 4, 2012 - 00:03

        Well, Nixon’s health care plan was arguably “to the left” of what Obama passed. But that was a different era – and the Democrats refused to pass it, holding out for something better.

      • #11 by classicliberal2 on May 4, 2012 - 09:38

        The health care bill was a Republican bill. The liberals–like the public–favored single payer, but were never even invited to the discussion. Obama’s health care “reform” monstrosity was ROmneycare, which, before that, had been bandied about congress by various Senators and congressmen for years–it had been created as a Republican alternative to the Clinton plan (which was also a Republican plan). The lineage of that bill includes Romney, Judd Gregg, Newt Gingrich, Bob Dole, Phil Gramm, and the Heritage Foundation. It had been floating around for 15 years, and other than a few minor legitimate reform provisions, it had no history among the liberals at all.

      • #12 by Norbrook on May 4, 2012 - 21:05

        Actually, the liberals in Congress were “invited to the table,” but the problem for them was they didn’t have the votes to pass “single payer” or the ill-defined “public option.” A whip count at the time showed approximately 80 votes for that in the House, and if they really twisted arms, possibly 100. Which is well short of the 218 needed. Now, “the public” may have favored it, but you have to break down each poll as to exactly how the question was phrased. There was a lot of cherry picking at the time, and it still ignored the practical reality of how turning that rather vague “the polls say the public likes it” into votes in Congress. Which, frankly, was one of the most inept performances by so-called “progressive activists” when they attempted to do so.

      • #13 by classicliberal2 on May 4, 2012 - 22:12

        The point about “single payer” was that it wasn’t the product of the “far left”; it was a product of plain old fashioned liberals, and broadly supported by large majorities of the public. for purposes of this discussion, the strength or weakness of that support doesn’t really matter. The relevant point is that large majorities don’t recoil in horror at this idea, meaning it isn’t radical, or “far left” or any of that. That it’s nearly politically impossible, in the face of this, is another of these Crises of American Democracy things.

        The pubic option had, by the end, majority support in the Senate (53 votes) and was actually passed by the House. It, too, had overwhelming public support. Stripping it from the bill was what caused support for the bill to collapse. That which was passed will make the health care situation in the U.S. FAR worse, and given that doing nothing at all would have yielded better results, any sort of “this is what was possible” argument in its favor is bizarre, at best.

  7. #14 by Norbrook on May 4, 2012 - 00:36

    But that was a different era – and the Democrats refused to pass it, holding out for something better.

    Which was a lesson that many of us remembered, unlike many of the “professional left” and the more vocal extreme left. I also remember the miserable failure of the Clinton attempt, which was arguably to the right of what Obama accomplished.

    What has to be remembered is that Obama is not operating in a vacuum. He does have to deal with Congress, which has a party intent on blocking anything he’s proposing, and his own party’s rather … undisciplined … actions in Congress. What he is, is as Andrew Sullivan put it, “a cold-blooded pragmatist.” Why I don’t think that this is “moderate vs. moderate” is that regardless of what Mitt Romney did as a governor, he’s moved himself so far to the right in order to get the nomination that I don’t think he’ll be able to get back to the middle.

    • #15 by Scott Erb on May 4, 2012 - 00:41

      I still am of the opinion that ultimately Obama will be remembered as one of the great President’s, who took office in the midst of crisis and helped rechart America’s course. It’s not just partisanship, I get this sense of history about both him and the times. That “cold blooded pragmatism” is ultimately the most effective way to govern.

      • #16 by classicliberal2 on May 4, 2012 - 18:55

        “I still am of the opinion that ultimately Obama will be remembered as one of the great President’s, who took office in the midst of crisis and helped rechart America’s course.”

        A line that, honestly, took my breath away. Obama hasn’t done anything. His administration has been not only a failure, but a MISERABLE one. He doesn’t have a single impressive accomplishment to which he can point. His sole place in history will be that he was the first president who wasn’t entirely white; other than that, he’ll be right beside Clinton, Bush Sr., Carter, Ford, etc.–the answer to a trivia question few people will know.

        “That ‘cold blooded pragmatism’ is ultimately the most effective way to govern.”

        The Obama’s version of “cold-blooded pragmatism” is not to do anything because Republicans are intransigent. He rode into office on a huge electoral tide, and a liberal mandate the likes of which the U.S. hasn’t seen in decades. If he was wiling to fight for it, he could have had anything he wanted. Instead, he totally squandered the opportunity this offered. Instead of fighting for anything positive, he wasted most of his administration trying to get along with Republicans who only wanted to destroy him, and weren’t going to work with him on anything, even their own proposals. That’s just about the most ineffective imaginable way to govern, unless your purpose is just to fill space and be the future answer to a trivia question.

  8. #17 by Alan Scott on May 4, 2012 - 01:21

    I was right . All of you see what you want . Economic policy is the only thing that matters . Even Obama-Care is really an economic issue . On economics President Obama is the most far left Chief Executive in American history . I dare any of you to name a President to the left of our current ruler .

    The Left can pretend to be mad at him because he did not go as far as they wanted . They will still vote for him. Hollywood will still donate to him . The OWS will still riot in the streets for him . .

    Here is a news flash. If Governor Romney moves to the middle, he will lose. He has to make as big a contrast to President Obama as possible . The middle will not elect Romney and they will not reelect Obama . This is all about who turns out , the Left or the Right . The middle will not turn out .

    ” Also correct. The Obama, from a policy standpoint, would, only a few years ago, have been uncontroversially regarded by everyone as a conservative Republican. ”

    Obama is a failure. To explain it you guys claim he is everything except what he is .

    President Obama predicted what would happen. He said that if he did not fix the economy he would be a one term President . Did he fix it ?

    • #18 by Scott Erb on May 4, 2012 - 01:35

      I think Obama has done about as much for the economy as he could, and he could have done more if the GOP wasn’t all about obstruction. If Romney stays in tea party territory he’ll be marginalized and the GOP will lose the House. The vote in 2010 was an off year election with a very Republican demographic. The GOP frosh are in trouble, and Obama is determining how the issues are framed. I think you’re seeing what you want to see – I think the GOP is a victim of believing its own propaganda, and that could lead it to a surprisingly big loss in November. At the very least, we’re both on record here — in about a half a year one of us will have to admit the other was right 🙂

    • #19 by classicliberal2 on May 4, 2012 - 16:33

      Wow, you don’t even try to make a case for your point of view. Not surprising, really, as there’s no case to be made for it.

      “Economic policy is the only thing that matters . Even Obama-Care is really an economic issue.”

      And Obamacare is Romneycare. There’s nothing “liberal” about it–it had floated around as a conservative Republican proposal, in various forms, for 15 years before Obama came along. In a scenario that has become all too familiar during the Obama administration, as soon as the Obama adopted it as his own–completely shutting out the liberals, who wanted single payer–all of the Republicans who had created it, and had advocated it for years turned against it and denounced it as “socialist” (particularly hilarious) and even unconstitutional. The ongoing presidential contest will feature two candidates who both enacted this same plan. If that’s your big point of departure, you don’t have one.

      “On economics President Obama is the most far left Chief Executive in American history . I dare any of you to name a President to the left of our current ruler.”

      Tell you what, bright boy, you look up a little thing called the New Deal, then get back to me. It wouldn’t hurt if you looked into the 40 or so years that followed the election of FDR, as well. This was a time of, among other things, sharply graduated taxes (the top marginal rate was, for a lot of that time, 90%), and massive government intervention in the economy, of the sort that, in the present political climate, would be unimaginable (It’s also worth noting–and this will no doubt astonish you, as well–that this was the greatest period of prosperity in U.S. history, and the era that made the U.S. the most powerful economy in the history of the world).

      “The OWS will still riot in the streets for him.”

      OWS is NOT pro-Obama.

      “Obama is a failure. To explain it you guys claim he is everything except what he is”

      I certainly consider him a failure. My analysis of “what he is” has this advantage over your own: It’s based on what he actually is, a guy whose policies, only a few years ago, would have resulted in his being uncontroversially regarded, by everyone, as a conservative Republican.

  9. #20 by Scott Erb on May 4, 2012 - 19:39

    Politics is the art of the possible. He got the only health care plan that could get through Congress — and that was probably as friendly as Congress would be towards health care reform. A lot of people on the left seem to believe that Obama was the messiah and somehow could transform American politics and render the Senate and the House irrelevant. That’s not how American politics works, I defy you to explain what more Obama could have done. The idea he could have gotten anything he was willing to fight for is naive, wishful thinking. It’s also wrong. He’s not the messiah, he was a new young President having to deal with entrenched interests, lobbyists, Congress, and a bureaucracy. The idea he could “fight for” and “lead” and then get whatever he wanted…I mean, that’s absurd!

    • #21 by classicliberal2 on May 4, 2012 - 20:06

      The idea that liberals regared Obama as a “messiah” is a meme created by Fox News and right-wing talk radio, and shouldn’t, under any circumstances, be regarded as reflecting, in any way, reality.

      The Obama didn’t have to render the congress “irrelevant”; his party has huge majorities in both bodies, and he was incredibly popular, while self-identification as “Republican” dropped to its lowest level in the history of polling. The Republican program was to oppose anything he did. Anything. And that was clear from the start, but he spent his administration prostrating himself before this then weak and incredibly unpopular minority, trying to “get along.” They weren’t going to get along. It didn’t matter what he did. That wasn’t the point. I started writing about this a few days after he was elected, and things worked out exactly as I said they would, if he adopted that course. You can’t get along with people whose agenda is not to get along on anything. These were the facts of life, when he entered the White House. What was he to do, then? If he’d offered up a reform agenda and had fought for it, right from the beginning, he could have taken this to the public and steamrolled over the obstructionists, which would have set a tone that would have been useful throughout his administration. Scandalize the obstruction. Instead, he’s Rodney King–“can’t we all just get along?”–while the corporate media, with no name political figure to tell them what to print on the subject, has done such a criminally bad job covering this that huge percentage of the population think either Democrats are the obstructionists, or both parties are guilty.

      Even with the horrendous health-care bill, the Obama had majority support in both bodies for the public option, the one major useful element in the original proposal, and its most popular element, as well. The reason it was killed had absolutely nothing to do with what was “possible” in congress; it was killed as the result of a back-room deal between the Obama and med-industry lobbyists.

  10. #22 by Scott Erb on May 4, 2012 - 20:12

    The blue dog Democrats were never squarely in Obama’s camp. I’m sorry but it still seems like a flight of fancy – that some how because polls showed high approval that he could have simply waved his wand early on and got whatever he wanted. He did work on the stimulus first, and that was a necessity. Did he under estimate Republican obstruction? Sure. But given all that happened he’s been a very active and effective President. Consider: http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/what-has-obama-done-since-january-20-2009.html

  11. #23 by Alan Scott on May 5, 2012 - 03:02

    Scott ,

    ” I think Obama has done about as much for the economy as he could, and he could have done more if the GOP wasn’t all about obstruction. ”

    Totally not accurate . Republicans oppose Obama not to obstruct him . They believe his policies are destroying the country . When they try to meet him half way he breaks his word and then he lies about them Obamanomics is about high unemployment. Which of course means that SS will go broke even sooner Democrats also cut SS taxes which of course means that SS will go broke even sooner .


    ” The idea that liberals regared Obama as a “messiah” is a meme created by Fox News and right-wing talk radio, ”

    Remember ” Barak Hussein Obama, mmm, mmm, mmm . ” ” this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; “. ” I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage “.

    A Messiah, I don’t know. Sure sounds like Mr. Wonderful to me .

    ” The Republican program was to oppose anything he did. Anything. And that was clear from the start, but he spent his administration prostrating himself before this then weak and incredibly unpopular minority, trying to “get along.” ”

    That never happened .

  12. #24 by classicliberal2 on May 6, 2012 - 02:19

    “When they try to meet him half way he breaks his word and then he lies about them”

    Most amusing. I note you don’t provide even a single example of this. What a surprise! The Republicans who created that meme (which you’re just parroting) couldn’t either. Republicans–and that includes you–have lied about virtually everything with regard to the Obama. Extensive documentation available on request (though your comments in this thread are the logical starting-point).

    “Obamanomics is about high unemployment.”

    Meanwhile, in the real world, that “high unemployment” is a consequence of the economic crash which the Bush administration helped bring about, well before the Obama had even been elected, much less sworn in or enacted anything. Inheriting the worst economic collapse in 75 years will do that to people. You could say he hasn’t done nearly enough to reduce it, and I’d even shock you and totally agree. I would, in fact, probably be even stronger on the point. The different is that I would actually know what I was talking about.

    When, back in 2010, congressional Democrats pushed for a theoretically-Obama-backed bill that would have removed the incentives in the tax code for companies that offishore jobs and offer incentives to move back jobs that have already been offshored, every Republican in the Senate filibustered and killed it. They WANT the government to pay those corporations who own them to strip us of our jobs. That should not be interpreted as merely blaming the Republicans, though. This is another of those areas where, if the Obama had done anything to fight for the bill, it would have passed, because opposing it wouldn’t poll out of single digits in the most ass-backwards right-wing red state in the U.S. Instead, he barely even mentioned it. Like most of the good jobs initiatives during his time in office, it started with congressional Democrats, and he refused to use the bully pulpit to agitate for its passage. Multiply that by perhaps dozens of jobs bills, and you have the first 2 years of the Obama administration.

    “Which of course means that SS will go broke even sooner Democrats also cut SS taxes which of course means that SS will go broke even sooner.”

    SS is in absolutely no danger of going bankrupt. You’ve swallowed another meme. SS has $2.7 trillion in assets and, with minor adjustments, would be solvent far longer than any of us will be alive.

    ”this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal;“.

    That’s an out-of-context quote from Obama’s victory speech after conquering Hillary Clinton. Nothing to do with messiah-ism, but a great deal to do with environmental policy.

    “I won’t have to worry about putting gas in my car, I won’t have to worry about paying my mortgage“.

    The words of some random Obama rally attendee in Illinois:

    …which could just as easily mean she thinks the economy will improve under Obama’s reign. Significance: None. the only reason you’ve even heard of it is because the right-wing press told you about it as part of their Obama/messiah meme. Don’t you feel stupid being such a parrot? Think for yourself for a change, man.

    “That never happened.”

    That’s funny, I’ve written a blog since a few days after he was elected extensively documenting that fact. The public record must be a forgery, and everyone who lived through the last few years and paid any attention at all must be under some sort of diabolical mind-control, perhaps beamed out from the Great Messiah Obama but not affecting Republicans under their tin-foil hats. Or maybe you just need to get your head out of the orifice that is Fox News and join the real world.

  13. #25 by Alan Scott on May 6, 2012 - 12:11

    Classicliberal2 ,

    ” “When they try to meet him half way he breaks his word and then he lies about them”

    Most amusing. I note you don’t provide even a single example of this. ”

    I’m sorry . I did not realize I had to give an example of the obvious. Namely that your hero cannot be trusted in negotiations . That he will go back on deals and then lie about it . But since you requested it. Last July Beohner and your hero were close to a painful deal on fixing our budget disaster . Painful for both of them . At the 11th hour your hero hits Boehner with a demand for $ 400 Billion in tax increases . Of course in the Obama media, this was all the ” radical Republicans ” fault .

    • #26 by classicliberal2 on May 6, 2012 - 19:21

      “Last July Beohner and your hero were close to a painful deal on fixing our budget disaster. Painful for both of them”

      Not really. That mess began when Republicans took the debt ceiling hostage, refusing to raise it for money they’d already spent unless the Obama and Democrats agreed to ruinous cuts. That blackmail was in the background of everything that followed. In the first round of negotiations, Boehner had the idea of lowering tax rates for the rich, as part of the deal, but eliminating a raft of loopholes, which would actually result in the rich paying more. He had to send this to the White House in a complex code, playing with numbers in such a way that it looked as if he was actually cutting taxes on the wealthy, and decreasing revenue. The Republican Speaker of the House was having to conceal, from his own caucus, the allegedly Republican offer. It was a sign of things to come. Negotiations continued, but then Eric Cantor got wind of what Boehner had offered, and pitched a hissy fit. The Obama was going to give up $2 trillion in cuts in exchange for only $800 billion in new revenue. Saying that’s “painful for both of them” is so misleading as to amount to a lie–those numbers make it very plain who was getting all the pain. Cantor pitched his fit, and Boehner walked away from the table the first time.

      Boehner is a weak leader who couldn’t speak for his caucus. That’s what doomed those negotiations from the start.

      “At the 11th hour your hero hits Boehner with a demand for $ 400 Billion in tax increases.”

      What actually happened is that, when negotiations resumed, that $800 billion in new revenue was put on the table again, but, again, Republicans always got trillions of dollars in cuts for it. The Obama was offering huge cuts in even Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (to fix a debt “problem” that was the fault of Republicans). At no point did the Obama “demand” $400 billion in new revenue–that’s a Boehner lie. The two sides were constantly making proposals and counter-proposals, and one of these, offered by the Obama, was for a much bigger package, one with even larger cuts in exchange for $400 billion in additional revenue (this offer was made because the Senate “gang of six” had just publicly announced the deal they’d struck, and in that deal, a slew of Republican Senators had just agreed to $2 trillion in new revenue).

      At the end, the offers on the table were the smaller package that included the $800 billion in new revenue or the much larger one, with the additional $400 billion in new revenue. The Obama had twisted arms and had gotten Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to commit to holding their noses and pimping either deal as best they could. When the Obama made the proposal for the larger package, Boehner put the idea of a counter-proposal to his leadership team, and Cantor, who was dead-set against even the smaller package (because of the new revenue), pitched another fit, and flat-out said he wasn’t going to support any more proposals, and doubted the caucus would, either (a veiled threat to Boehner). So when negotiations were set to resume, Boehner just walked away again. The next day, the Obama called him and, again, asked if he wanted to go for the smaller package. Boehner refused.

      “Of course in the Obama media, this was all the ‘radical Republicans’ fault.”

      Calling it their “fault” seems far too passive–Republicans INVENTED that crisis. It was a thing entirely of their own making. They were a minority party, in control of only one house of congress, and, lacking the numbers to screw over the public with massive cuts, they took the debt ceiling hostage in an effort to accomplish, through blackmail, what they couldn’t win via the budget process, because they couldn’t win the numbers to do so at the ballot box. The press, however, largely portrayed BOTH sides as being at fault; you’re entirely wrong, there, as well. In real time, a whole slew of internet writers–myself included–were constantly complaining about that coverage because of this. Phony “balance.”

  14. #27 by Scott Erb on May 6, 2012 - 12:59

    The claim “they’ll break their word and then lie” is a convenient excuse not to compromise. That’s probably why the GOP is looking at defeat this year. I’m starting to think they won’t keep the House, looking at Congressional approval ratings — I mean, compared to Congress Obama looks immensely popular!

  15. #28 by Alan Scott on May 7, 2012 - 00:29


    All you have done is make excuses for Obama’s failures by blaming the House Republicans who were there less than half of Obama’s term . If only the GOP had rolled over and played dead, the economy would be Okay . That my friend is a weak argument . Especially since the pathetic Obama economy is better under John Boehner than under Nancy Pelosi .

    Or in your words ” convenient excuse. ”


    ” At no point did the Obama “demand” $400 billion in new revenue–that’s a Boehner lie. ”

    Lets see, either Boehner lied or Obama lied ? That’s a toughie .

    • #29 by Scott Erb on May 7, 2012 - 01:07

      I consider Obama to have a successful first four years, even though the last two he’s had to fight a GOP that verged on the extreme. He inherited an economy in free fall and he’s avoided collapsed and now we’ve been adding jobs. It’s a slow recovery, but that’s inevitable — it could have been much worse. Don’t forget the collapse that happened under the watch of the GOP and deregulation. You want to pretend that Obama isn’t having to deal with the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Sorry, whether it irritates you on the right or classicliberal on the left, I really think Obama is destined to be remembered as one of the greats. Time will tell, but you claiming he’s failed just isn’t credible. Again: http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/what-has-obama-done-since-january-20-2009.html

  16. #30 by Alan Scott on May 7, 2012 - 21:56


    ” You want to pretend that Obama isn’t having to deal with the worst crisis since the Great Depression. ”

    So tell me, how many more years you gonna use that excuse ? 4 and a half more years if Obama wins, right ?

    I am looking forward to your columns about a year and a half into Romney’s first term . When the Romney economy outperforms the Obama record Actually the bar is really low. I have all the faith in the world that you will give Obama credit . His policies just took that long to work because of the Bush damage .

    I feel sorry for Romney if he wins . SS and Medicare will be blowing up thanx to your guy ignoring them . Europe will have to be bailed out He will have to give the US it’s first budget in years . Yes we will see if Romney is really a turnaround artist. Romney has the opportunity to become one of the greats . Maybe not a Reagan after Carter, but at least an Eisenhower .

    Meanwhile I wish your guy all the best in his retirement. As an ex President I bet he does better than even Bill Clinton has done in making money .

    • #31 by Scott Erb on May 7, 2012 - 22:11

      I’m stating facts. Dismissing the horrid state of the economy after eight years of Bush by calling it an excuse is lame. You may be hoping for collective amnesia in November, but that’s not going to happen. Obama has done a superb job of working to improve things and preventing total collapse. After Obama leaves office in 2016 you’ll start realizing that despite your protests, his place in history will be up there with FDR. As I noted yesterday, Romney is one of the weakest candidates the GOP has had, weaker than Dole or McCain.

  17. #32 by Alan Scott on May 8, 2012 - 02:53


    You are fond, very fond of only looking at the last 2 years of the Bush administration . I look at the entire 8 years . Tell me if your hero had a 911 and inherited a dotcom bust if he could have averaged 5.6% unemployment for 8 years . I’d say no .

    You do not have my years of experience of observing the economy . It’s not about avoiding downturns, they will happen . It’s getting out of them quickly that matters. Obama’s class warfare and $ 5 trillion debt are why the recovery is so weak .

    When Iraq was going bad in 05 Bush adjusted and ordered the surge . Clinton adjusted his economic goals when Gingrich forced him to . These worked . Bush and Clinton had been governors . Obama never ran anything. Even if Obama wins in November , he will never be great . He simply cannot adjust . His thinking is rigid .

    • #33 by Scott Erb on May 8, 2012 - 03:07

      President Bush oversaw a bubble economy that imploded at the end. But the roots were being set much earlier (it even goes back to the Clinton years, to be fair). The real estate bubble created an illusion of economic health even as the current account deficit exploded, debt increased, and economic imbalances intensified. The reason I think Obama will be remembered as great is because he’s transforming a country in decline due to thirty years of economic mismanagement and disastrous wars. I see him as reflecting a transition to a new kind of politics. I don’t think you quite understand who the economy of the 90s (under Clinton!) and the 00’s were illusionary, with paper gains hiding deep fundamental flaws. That was destined to crash. Now we have a long painful job of rebalancing.

  18. #34 by Titfortat on May 8, 2012 - 17:46


    In reality Reagan got the ball rolling down that lane but there are not too many republicans that are willing to admit that. Afterall Ronnie made ya all feel soooooo good. Chu chingggg. $$$$$

  19. #35 by Alan Scott on May 9, 2012 - 00:03


    You are amazing . I suppose if you look at things from a long enough time frame you can see what ever you want . You see 30 years of illusions. I see 30 years of real prosperity . You are looking at the last 4 years and using it to condemn a whole era . Economic cycles are normal . We have never not had them . Yes crashes are part of that . What is not normal is a long period of stagnation . One long ride in a dark tunnel, for what ?

    What is Obama transitioning us into , France , Italy , or Greece ? I know, I know , Spain . That’s where the green boondoggles like Solndra come in .

  20. #38 by Alan Scott on May 9, 2012 - 16:31


    You are right this is not a normal cycle . In a normal cycle, the steeper the downside the sharper the snap back . Your hero has delayed the recovery . He has done this with his Carter type micro managing regulatory Czars . How many are on record as being hostile to the industries they regulate . They loath those industries . They want to destroy those industries . He has done this with his crony capitalism . He has done this with his class warfare, blame the rich rhetoric .

    There is so much pent up demand . There is so much money just waiting to be invested in America . It’s like a spring waiting for one event . The defeat of the man in charge . Obama was never a chief executive . It shows.

    By this time in the Reagan recovery, economic growth was far ahead of where it is in the Obama cycle . And things ‘ were ‘worse when Reagan took power than when Obama did . Reagan had inflation plus unemployment to fix . Reagan was an experienced former governor . It showed .

    You don’t understand economics . You believe Obama is doing a good job . You are a good apologist .

  21. #39 by Scott Erb on May 9, 2012 - 18:36

    No, your heroes have been too ideological and unwilling to raise taxes on the very wealthiest, something necessary to start decreasing debt and reforming entitlements. The GOP has been all about politics and not about doing what’s best for the country.

    Also claims about investors waiting have been debunked. It’s a fib, a story, something with no basis in fact. “Yeah, I was telling my wife, Morgan Fairchild, yeah, that’s the ticket, there’s investors, yeah, just waiting to invest…pent up demand, all being held back by Obama..” That’s so over the top absurd that it’s laughable on its face. That’s not how the economy works, that’s not how investors think, and it’s clearly not true.

    You need to understand that Reagan got an economy with low debt and engaged in massive deficit spending during oil price declines. It was easy – and every industrialized country recovered about the same time, it had nothing to do with Reagan. Since then we’ve gone from 150% total debt to nearly 400% of GDP total debt. Government debt under Reagan doubled. Reagan’s “borrow and spend” philosophy was even more economically illiterate because he ran up debt during a boom. That’s economic insanity, but Reagan and later Bush the Younger did the same thing, debilitating the economy and making this recession much different. This is more like the 30s, the old economy was unsustainable and will never come back. Never. It was an illusion. We have to restructure and start to build a sustainable economy again. That never happens without an active state – free markets alone do not create economic development.

    Remember the collapse in 2008? It was worse than anything since the Great Depression and if not for some solid policy choices by Obama and Bush before him (such as TARP), we’d be in depression right now.

  22. #40 by Alan Scott on May 10, 2012 - 02:44

    Scott ,

    Only two possibilities can happen . Romney wins and you give Obama credit for the turnaround under Romney . Or Obama wins and after 8 years you are still using the 2008 collapse to splain why Obama never turned the economy up .

    And where do they have a sustainable economy now ? I ‘m curious as to your model .

    Also please splain to me how raising taxes reforms entitlements ?

    Splain to me how Reagan’s debt was worse than Obama’s.

    • #41 by Scott Erb on May 10, 2012 - 03:49

      I won’t ever give credit to one President either way. The current crisis is the result of both parties over thirty years putting us on an unsustainable path. Listen, Alan, when I gave you book recommendations on the economic crisis you refused to read anything saying you didn’t have time. I’ve been reading them as quick as they come out. I honestly think you haven’t really educated yourself on what’s happening. You enjoy partisan arguments, have chosen your “team” and simply are spinning things following leads from blogs or pundits. I mean trying to blame the housing bubble on Fannie Mae? That’s down at the level of Rush Limbaugh.

      Again, “All the Devils are Here” by MacLean and Nocera, “The Fall of Wall Street” by Lowenstein, the entertaining “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis or Suskind’s “Confidence Men” are must reads if you really want to make claims on this. Suskind notes that Obama was warned of the coming disaster by Wall Street insiders in 2007 (USB’s Wolfe), and that the problems were laid out by his economic team earlier too — too much consumption, not enough production, debt levels through the roof with private debt worse than government debt, savings down, a clearly unsustainable path with crisis inevitable. The chart I put on my March blog was also given to Obama in a meeting – but the dates were different.

      Note that March blog has 1979 as the cut off: https://scotterb.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/the-failure-of-the-free-market-experiment/

      That’s the one going around the internet. The one given Obama had the cut off 1973. So that means that the problems started at the end of Nixon’s term. While I still think Reagan’s debts really hurt (as well as deregulation which led to massive private debt), this also shows a systemic weakness. Obama was told (as was Bush) that the 2008 crisis was NOT a normal cycle, but a once in a lifetime event that could have long term implications and severely weaken the US on the world stage. If Romney wins and the crisis gets solved, I’ll give Obama credit for what he’s done and Romney for what he continues. If he doesn’t solve it my critique will depend on his policies — I don’t expect him or Obama to have solved it by 2016, frankly. My best case scenario is a slow rebalancing that doesn’t dive back into recession or spiral into a depression. I’m more optimistic now than I was in 2009 when the scope of the crisis really hit me. So yeah, we can play the partisan game, but there’s enough criticism for both parties and the issue is real — this is the defining economic crisis of this era, the biggest since the Great Depression (I’ve labeled it Great Depression II – if not for the tools we have, we’d probably be now where we were then). Find time to read more deeply on what’s happening. It’ll scare you, perhaps anger you, and make it clear that neither Democrats nor Republicans come out looking very good.

  23. #42 by sheokhanda on May 18, 2012 - 01:45

    I think there is a chance that he might win this time too. Mitt Romney doesnot seems to be that much of a challanging candidates and neither is he bringing that momentum.

    However Obama’s win this time might be by a very narrow margin. I guess Mr Bush style.

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