DICK POLMAN: Never before had a cadre of partisan zealots sought to drive the nation into default and crash the economy. Raising the debt ceiling had always been a bipartisan imperative; it had never been used as a bargaining chip in a game of chicken. But in response, Obama essentially said: “Let us reason together. If you will vote to raise the debt ceiling, I will agree to cut lots of government spending. But I am drawing a line in the sand. To close the budget deficit, we also need to raise a lot of new revenue. The rich should pay more. The tax loopholes that benefit the rich and the corporations need to be closed. We can’t just have spending cuts, because that will put the burden on the poor, the vulnerable, the middle class, and the seniors. As a Democrat, I can’t do that.” Well, he did that. The ransom he has agreed to pay is a testament to his political ineffectiveness. His call for “a balanced approach,” a mix of spending cuts and revenue hikes? Gone. His crusade to extract “shared sacrifice” from the rich and the special interests? Gone. His insistence, a few months ago, that “winning the future” requires federal spending “to spur job creation?” Long gone. Instead, the ransom features deep cuts in domestic programs and zero new revenues. The ransom protects the Republicans’ most affluent friends, and endangers the Democrats’ core supporters. The ransom will take a lot of money out of the fragile economy, at a time when the economy badly needs more – a potentially eerie replay of what happened in 1937-8, when FDR cut spending and tried to balance the budget, thereby predictably stalling the economic recovery from the Great Depression. As Bill Maher quipped on HBO the other night, “One party has no brains, the other party has no balls.” Indeed, it’s fair to wonder at this juncture what it is that Obama stands for – aside from reasonableness, a wimp trait that the Republican hostage-takers continue to exploit for their own destructive purposes. A real leader doesn’t repeatedly cave to extortion; a real leader challenges the extortionists by framing the terms of debate and adhering to those terms, buttressed by the fact that in poll after poll he had the majority of Americans on his side, favoring the principle of shared sacrifice. MORE
DICK POLMAN: Granted, Obama has increasingly tested the patience of his own party base. He’s the proverbial half-empty glass. He has championed health-care reform, albeit with concessions to the insurance lobby. He has launched troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, but he has more soldiers on the ground than when he took office. He has denounced the Bush tax cuts for the rich, but last winter he extended them. He once said it was wrong to wage war without congressional OK, but he has done so in Libya. He has vowed to defend Medicare and Social Security, yet, during the debt-ceiling crisis, he has put both programs on the table in his futile attempts to woo the Republicans who are bent on destroying him. And at a time when the Democratic base wants him to trumpet job creation, he has ceded ground to the Republicans, echoing their emphasis on deficit reduction and spending cuts. During his address to the nation Monday night, Obama barely said a word about job creation. MORE
PHAWKER: Turns out Obama is a Manchurian Candidate, but not for the left, as so many on the right secretly feared. No, the only reasonable explanation we can come up with to explain how you can control the White House and both houses of Congress and still deliver a big fucking NOTHING to the people who actually voted for you is that Barack Obama was in fact created in some Koch Brothers-funded lab — presumably inside a spooky castle with bats on top of a cliff in some faraway island, surrounded by sharks, where it thunders and lightnings all the time — to make progressives feel good, but in actuality deliver nothing to them but a dry bowl of fuck. Increasingly, it has become apparent that the Obama of the 2008 campaign — the man of hope and change, the one that PEOPLE ACTUALLY VOTED FOR — was nothing but a mirage that progressives were cynically encouraged to believe was real. To quote the Book of Mark: What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? The answer is you’re soaking in it. Not sure where we are going, but are out, we simply can’t do this anymore. We are cashing out of the YES WE CAN PONZI scheme. At least Bernie Madoff paid out once in a while. Good night and good luck, Mr. President.
PREVIOUSLY: Man Up, Mr. President
RELATED: Why Voters Turn Out Democrats
RELATED: Oddly, many voters prefer the policies of Democrats to the policies of Republicans. They just don’t trust the Democrats to carry out those promises. When we conducted our election-night national survey after last year’s Republican sweep, voters strongly chose new investment over a new national austerity. They thought Democrats were more likely to champion the middle class. And as has become clear in the months since, the public does not share conservatives’ views on rejecting tax cuts and cutting retirement programs. Numerous recent polls have shown that the public sides with the president and Democrats on raising taxes to get to a balanced budget. But in smaller, more probing focus groups, voters show they are fairly cynical about Democratic politicians’ stands. They tune out the politicians’ fine speeches and plans and express sentiments like these: “It’s just words.” “There’s just such a control of government by the wealthy that whatever happens, it’s not working for all the people; it’s working for a few of the people.” “We don’t have a representative government anymore.” MORE
PREVIOUSLY: A great many people who should know better continue to look at this situation as if Mr. Obama has some fantastic rabbit he…is…just…waiting to pull out of a hat, thus foiling the GOP and securing our future forever. For a brief moment a couple of weeks ago, I shared that optimism, but the last several days have slapped me soundly out of that fugue state. I see a president on his knees, hands outstretched, offering the best ideas and policies liberal governance has ever devised up to the voracious carnivore of GOP opportunism. I see the end of the New Deal, and a far crueler America emerging from the aftermath. I see a Democratic president voiding his bladder on all that he is supposed to uphold. Mr. Obama got on those knees again Monday night, on national television no less, and once again begged the GOP to devour Social Security and Medicare. He gobbled up the flawed, flayed premise of the far-right’s deranged argument, again, and pleaded for the chance to give away the core of what he was elected to defend. I thought I was done being ashamed of my president. I was wrong. MORE