Monday, January 27, 2014

First Five Years

Attywood writes yesterday that Obama’s first five years are characterized primarily by timidity, a point which I find rather difficult to refute notwithstanding drones, NSA revelations, Libya and a few other examples of an increasingly imperial presidency. I can’t help but think that to a large extent the military and the “national security apparatus” have been manipulating and browbeating him into much of what appears to be executive overreach.

His piece admits that many of Obama’s half measures have been the result of Republican opposition; saying , for instance, that, “Yes, Obama's 2009 stimulus was too weak, but the GOP would have filibustered one more dollar.” He gives several more examples, on health care reform and jobs creation, but let’s consider for a moment that very first time that Obama ran into serious headwinds from his opposition.

The problem was that Obama never even proposed a strong stimulus bill. When negotiating with an opponent, if you are determined to get $10, you demand $20 and let him talk you down to the $10 that you wanted in the first place, but Obama began the negotiations with a “weak stimulus bill” that he hoped Congress would pass without discussion. He managed to create the impression that this was all he wanted.

Attywood says that “the GOP would have filibustered a dollar more,” but we don’t know that because they were never placed in a position where they needed to do so. Obama’s geniuses read some kind of tea leaves and decided that this magic number was the best that could be obtained. It was a number that neither side was happy with, which is supposedly the result of a successful negotiation.

Obama’s first five years may be marked by his timidity, but more especially they may be remembered by the manner in which he managed to piss both sides off.

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