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So much for the post-partisan presidency. Not that there was any chance that it would actually happen anyway. It would have taken a modern-day Solomon to bridge the ideological divide in America today and no one would confuse Barack Obama with the Biblical King. From the beginning of his term, Obama’s idea of bipartisanship more closely resembled a mob racket than any kind of nuanced balancing of political and public interests. From the stimulus through government bailouts, from health care through trials for terrorists, the administration’s message has been unmistakably clear: we’ll all get along fine, so long as you do exactly as Nancy, Harry and I say. The administration thus alienated Republicans early and often and, as the 2010 election so amply demonstrated, millions upon millions of Americans as well. Now, the furor over the president’s proposal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts to everyone has turned another faction against him: Obama’s base on the far-left views the president’s tax-extension proposal as “proof” that Obama is in fact a money-grubbing Republican disguised progressive clothing.
Bob Tyrrell coined the phrase “conservative crack up” when things started to fall apart on the Right after the Reagan years. The current episode may well signal a repeat of the phenomenon on the Left. The far-left and the elected officials representing progressives, like Speaker Pelosi, are rushing to put as much distance between themselves and Obama’s heretical proposal as possible. Centerist Democrats, like centrist Republicans, are willing to go along with a “framework” that neither group believes is perfect, but that each believes is necessary if we’re to avoid an even deeper recession. The right-wing of the Republican party isn’t at all sure that it’s willing to swallow the bitter pill of additional spending that goes along with the tax cut extension in Obama’s proposal, but the jury is still out as to whether hard-core conservatives will vote against the deal or not. At the end of the day, my guess is that conservatives will hold out as long as they can for as much as they can, before joining the center of both parties to ensure that tax rates remain stable for everyone over the next two years.
While the Obama administration is not the first post-partisan presidency since George Washington, it is certainly the first post-ironic presidency. Obama’s entire economic demagoguery was based on the contention that the Bush tax cuts ruined the economy – a fantasy that corresponded directly with the delusions of his leftist base. So what does the president propose to do to keep the economy from tanking even further than he’s torpedoed it thus far? Extend the Bush tax cuts. The cognitive dissonance on the Left must be shattering – either they were terribly wrong about economics all along, or Obama wasn’t the Chosen One they’d imagined him to be from the start. Actually, both are true, but their disillusionment is spectacular to behold.
Consider a few comments posted on the Daily Kos, the site that is always a harbinger of far-leftist opinion, shortly after the president announced his willingness to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for all. “I’m just going to accept the fact that I was had and that Obama is in fact a Republican,” one commenter moaned. “Then I am going to move on. I am going to expect nothing at all from Washington and work very hard to elect progressive Democrats locally. I’m just going to start all over from the bottom up. Oh, and this. I will NEVER, EVER, EVER again give time or a dime or a vote to a blue dog Democrat. That includes the President.” Another complained about Obama’s defection in terms that could have been plucked from a McCain-Palin ad in 2008: “During the election, a Brit asked me: ‘What do we really know about this Obama character? Isn’t it a bit risky to choose a President with no experience?’ At the time, I responded as you might expect. ‘Saying all the right things’, ‘Energizing the country’, etc, etc. Crap, I should have listened to the guy. Obama turned out to be nothing but a suit with a great speech writer.” Finally we have this bit of sarcasm from a Daily Kosite who believes that allowing people to keep more of the money they’ve earned is morally equivalent to highway robbery: “The rich need our money more then (sic) we do, because they are better people. Obama knows this and doesn’t flinch from doing the hard things – like taking our money and giving it to the rich.”
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