Boss Obama

Posted on July 16, 2011 by

Just a few months ago republicans were taunting and toying with Barack Obama, insinuating that he was a radical, an alien and an amateur. 

Now, conservatives are complaining that he’s really a clever and manipulative bully with the audacity to control the debate and shut people up. 

Here’s Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes: 

Obama hasn’t made compromise any easier for Republicans. He’s made it harder, perhaps on purpose. He’s operated as if he’s in full command of the situation. And Republicans have no option but to go along or be blamed for blocking an increase in the debt limit…

…Republicans made three mistakes. One, their leverage in a fight over a debt limit increase turns out to be far less than [Senate GOP Leader Mitch] McConnell, among others, had figured. Two, by agreeing to secret talks, they let Obama and Democrats pretend to support deep spending cuts without offering any public evidence, like a budget. And three, they played into Obama’s hands by walking out of the Biden talks and calling on the president to take over.

With Obama in charge, he and Republicans are farther apart than ever on a deal. And Obama thinks he has Republicans right where he wants them – divided.

This is vindication for those of us who have been deeply offended by the way the president’s opponents have – in the past – characterized and disparaged him. 

And even if we’re disappointed in Mr. Obama’s record and distrustful of what he might do next, we have to now recognize him as a formidable figure in his own right. 

This, of course, puts me at some distance from my friends on the left who see this presidency as a disaster. 

Here’s a thoughtful piece by Fred Branfman, making a plausible argument that progressives would have been better of if McCain had won in 2008. 

Nice try Fred.

Comments (8)


  1. Alan K. says:

    If indeed Obama and the Democrats have the advantage, PRESS IT for all its worth. Republicans are forever wedded to corporate interests; they are not going to change.

    If there is an advantage here, PRESS IT!

  2. Glen Arnodo says:

    You seem to have set the bar pretty low. If victory ultimately means trillions in cuts including, potentially, social security and medicare, we are all in trouble.

  3. David J. Cyr says:

    QUOTE, Fred Branfman:

    “Furious debate rages among Obama’s Democratic critics today on why he has largely governed on the big issues as John McCain would have done. Some believe he retains his principles…”

    Obama does still have the principles he had before becoming POTUS, and all those who voted for him still have the same principles that they had before the 2010 election. We can have no expectation that the next “most important election ever” might change the liberals’ principles.

    The “Principles” of Liberal Voters

    Democrats only exist to do what they’ve always done; to ensure that either none or the least possible change for good ever occurs.

  4. Rod Bradley says:

    Although I am critical of Obama, I do admire his political chess-playing. And his presidency hasn’t been a disaster, just rather falling further short of expectations than the country needs.

    He’s a bright and decent man, but not a leader, and certainly out of touch with the so-called “little guy” while paying lip service. He is not a profound thinker, and I think his creative intelligence is pretty ordinary, and his intellect rather predictable and over-rated (not his fault of course.)

    He is very partial to privilege and very partial to the status quo and very partial to being president. He is not particularly partial to change — his campaign slogan, and the “we” in yes we can is an abstraction to him.

    He is proving, as the very perceptive Howard Zinn predicted even before Obama was elected, mediocre at best. He does, of course, look pretty good on style points after Bush. One can only hope his basic but narrow decency, expands and gains a little courage if he wins a second term.

  5. John Connolly says:

    For several weeks now the very smart and experienced Lawrence O’Donnell has been proclaiming President Obama not merely the Smartest Guy in the Room, but an actual Political Genius for his “Masterful Rope-a-Doping” of increasingly lame and hapless republican Congressional leaders.

    Last Friday O’Donnell dismantled House Maj. Leader Eric Kantor as a dim-witted, rank amateur who fell into the President’s elaborate Debt-Ceiling Trap splitting Speaker Boehner from Kantor and exposing Twit-in-Chief Kantor as a madly ambitious, disloyal, narcissistic Iago for all to see.

    The Obama Gambit also snagged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a trap of his own making … we could actually watch McConnell pale as he realized that the Tea Party Noose express was taking the Republican Party over the cliff of an indefensible US Government Default in the service of Corporate Jet deductions for Billionaires.

    I only wish I could fully believe that O’Donnell is right, and the President carefully provided Republicans the halyard with which they vigorously hoisted themselves on their own petard.

    Even if this devoutly-to-be-wished scenario is accurate, is it a strategy sufficient for the 2012 elections?

    No. Even if Obama is re-elected — and I suspect he will be given the thoroughly lame and mendacious monkeys running for the Republican nomination — unless the Dems sweep back to 60 votes in the Senate and crush the Right by re-taking the House, we are in for Four More Years of Nightmare Therapy for Progressives.

    And even if the most positive Dem Dream Sweep comes through, The D’s will still have to grow a backbone by the time they take office.

    At least with the Dream Scenario we”ll have a better class of problems to deal with.


    PS: The outlines of a continues Republican-dominated national agenda were clearly and dishearteningly on display Sunday on “Meet the Press’ ” gruesome J’obs Summit’ roundtable of rightist pols (Ohio Gov John Kasich), preening CEO’s (3M’s Cotes), and CNBC pundits all declaiming on how to make America more ‘Business Friendly’ by eliminating dread regulatory and tax policy ‘uncertainly’, and accepting the new reality of structural (read: ‘permanent’) high unemployment on the back of a crushed-thus-competitive, union-free workforce, and led by the enlightened New Billionaire elite.

    Can’t be helped. Take your medicine. Shut up.

    As David Gregory led these Masters of the Universe in chuckling over their coffee, the only muted sounds of opposition came from a gentle Mark Morial, mayor of New Orleans, often brushed off like a gnat, and more effectively by a clearly worried female executive from Mesirow Capital. But even her thoughtful pointed dissent couldn’t intrude on the well-fed geniality of self-satisfaction of the New Plutocrats.

    “O God, I Could be Bounded in a Nutshell
    And Count Myself a King of Infinite Space,
    Were it Not that I have Bad Dreams.”
    :Hamlet Act II, Scene II

    Plenty of Bad Dreams to go around.

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