What does President Obama think of those who fought and bled to pass his bills in Congress (in some cases losing in this year's election for their pains) while also defending him against wild charges from the right wing? Are they among the liberals he described as "sanctimonious," who long for the "satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people"?Let me repeat what I wrote five days ago: Obama is not a liberal (and he's certainly not a socialist).
Obama's comments make you wonder: Whom does he think he can count on when conservatives try to repeal the health-care law, force cuts in programs he supports, investigate his administration down to the last pencil and continue to denounce him as an un-American socialist?
A senior Obama lieutenant insisted that the president wasn't attacking liberals. He was responding only to those condemning him as a "sellout" for a tax deal that achieves many progressive goals, at the cost of extending tax cuts for the wealthy and egregiously conceding billions to very rich people who inherit large estates.
Yet simultaneously, the White House also sent out signals that it was consciously casting the president as a centrist problem-solver in a new iteration of Bill Clinton's old "triangulation" strategy.
This would suggest that Obama is perfectly happy to see liberals publicly furious, and happier still that some right-wing Republican politicians and groups, notably Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina and the Club for Growth, came out against the tax deal, too. There's nothing like occupying the lofty heights of moderation, especially where Washington conventional wisdom is concerned.
What's most striking about Obama's deal with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is the extent to which it only reinforces Obama's image as an inside technocratic dealmaker. It turns out he will negotiate with anyone to get what seems sensible to him.
How long will it take for liberals/progressives to realize that Obama doesn't really think like them, that he is actually a 'pragmatic centrist' with very few strong convictions, and that mainly he just wants to be an umpire, standing around doing the refereeing while others actually play the political game. He is not a liberal.He would rather fight with the liberals than with the Republicans, because he's more like a Republican (albeit a moderate one) than a liberal Democrat. He's more like David Brooks than he is E. J. Dionne. He's more like Herbert Hoover than FDR (acknowledging that Herbert Hoover has actually been unfairly castigated by liberals for decades). Recognizing this can be liberating.
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32