Obama is not triangulating, he’s being realistic


by Sunny
9th December, 2010 at 10:42 am    

Obama’s made a deal on the whole ‘tax cuts’ issue and every leftie in the USA (and some here, who just echo their leftie cousins there) is screaming betrayal. Oh, and triangulation.

But is it? Greg Sargent writes:

The reason Obama’s attacks on the left smack of triangulation is that he persists on painting the left and the right with the same brush: He presents himself as the last reasonable man trapped between two sides blinded to reason by ideology. Hence his insistence yesterday that he won’t be held to any unreasonable “ideal.” But as irksom as this is, it isn’t really the same as positioning oneself ideologically by arguing that the left is wrong on policy substance, as Bill Clinton did.

Obama’s argument with the left, at bottom, is more a dispute over what’s achievable, and less an argument over what is desirable to achieve. Obama opposes extending the high end tax cuts, just as the left does. His disagreement with the left is over whether there’s another way to achieve the goals Obama and the left agree on: Extending the middle class cuts and extending unemployment benefits.

I suspect I’ll have to repeatedly point out to lefties in the UK for the next two years that Republicans control the lower house and can easily block legislation in the Senate. Well, not yet, from January they will, but the point still stands that Obama could not pass the ‘Bush tax cuts’ legislation without some Republican support.

That is the reality. And there is no point pretending that as President he can just be in a stand-off with the Republicans all the time, because real people would be hurt by not getting unemployment benefits. The problem, it seems to me, is that Democrats just don’t have the discipline or backbone to hit back at Republicans. That isn’t just an Obama problem – it’s a problem with many Democrats.

But what can you do? At this stage, all Obama can do is compromise, push bits through, get re-elected, and push more stuff through. Who said governing was easy? But he is not disagreeing with the left in order to triangulate – like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did. That was triangulation; this is pragmatism.


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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : Obama is not triangulating, he's being realistic http://bit.ly/hkuEob


  2. Emily Davis

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : Obama is not triangulating, he's being realistic http://bit.ly/hkuEob




  1. Ravi Naik — on 9th December, 2010 at 12:13 pm  

    I suspect that the issue with the Left (I follow DailyKos closely) is that they hate to give a “victory” to Republicans more than their own ideology or pragmatism. They talk about Obama capitulating, being weak and pushed around by Republicans.

    However, there is this recommended diary which is worth reading.

    And this one.

  2. Naadir Jeewa — on 9th December, 2010 at 5:47 pm  

    Sandy Levinson is right:
    It’s the Constitution, stupid.

  3. Dominic — on 9th December, 2010 at 8:31 pm  

    The thing I’ve picked up on from reading US Lefty blogs and forums is that they can’t understand why Obama is such a bad negotiator. I could be misreading the situation entirely, but it looks like in all his struggles with the Right he gives away half of what his party wants before he even starts negotiating.

    And let’s be honest, he’s not dealing with reasonable, rational opposition. They’ve said outloud that all they care about making sure he’s a one term president, nothing else matters them. To be so generous and reasonable with an opponent that care’s for nothing but your destruction is just bloody silly, not to mention naive.

  4. Lucy — on 9th December, 2010 at 8:56 pm  

    It is also the reality that Obama could have acted to end – through legitimate legislative procedures – the filibuster in the Senate – which is where it applies – had he chosen to take a forthright stand against an opposition that was committed to bucking any program he put forward. Had he done so, he would not have needed a two-thirds majority. He would only have needed what he already had – a simple Senate majority of Democrats. Had he been less inexperienced and less reflexively inclined to compromise as his singularly consistent guiding principle – he could actually have flexed a leadership muscle or two – when he had the country in thrall. But he didn’t. He chose not to do so. And he is responsible for his disastrous failure to lead.

  5. Ho hum — on 10th December, 2010 at 5:50 pm  

    To be so generous and reasonable with an opponent that care’s for nothing but your destruction is just bloody silly, not to mention naive.

    Really? You don’t say!

    (Allah-u-akbar!)

  6. Shamit — on 10th December, 2010 at 10:50 pm  

    So Bill Clinton was against the left – now that is news to me. In fact, if rightwingers someone more than Obama is Bill Clinton.

    And as far as Bill Clinton and the Democratic base goes – well, President Obama basically gave Bill Clinton the podium in the White House Press Office and hold a press conference to talk to rebellious democrats and it sticks. That happened about half hour 40 minutes ago – and even Faux news was like well we know he can communicate. So I guess the President of the United States and the leader of the Democratic Party does not share the view that Clinton went against the left. Clinton, by the way, is the first Democraticpresident since FDR to have won 2 elections. and he left office with around 65% approval rating – not bad

    Yeah – before Clinton ran there was this fringe who are the loudest and their only achievement had been incompetence and with their rhetoric and idiotic style – these fringe groups made sure that no one in their right mind to elect the left to govern, Bill Clinton sort of turned that around and achieved a lot for the left agenda -So did Tony Blair – and Obama is doing the same thing – and as far as Blair and Clinton going against the left – no they were not especially bloody Clinton. He beat a far more powerful republican party at their game – and he shut down the federal government rather than be blackmailed and he did that before his re-election. So let’s go easy on Clinton was not lefty – whatever

    ***************************

    Second anyone who criticises Obama for doing this deal – go and get your head checked. Secondly, the President got a far better deal out of this and most people were willing to expect – third with this he actually showed leadership and not follow the loony tendencies of the Democratic Congressional Leadership whose approval ratings are abysmal.

    And remember the President runs in 2 years and the whole country votes – while most democratic congress men & women ie who are left come from very very strong democratic districts – its funny how someone elected with less that 160,000 votes try to lecture the President of the United States.

    We have idiots here coming and saying how President Obama should he have stopped the filibuster – it was not in Obama’s hand – now some people read this from some website and blurted out here – first of all, it is a Senate rule and only the Senate can change it. No senate leadership across the partisan line wants to change the filibuster – becuase that gives them protection when their party is in minority.

    There is a thing called separation of powers – and congress gets really irksome when they thing the executive branch is trying to influence its rules and stuff.

    Do you think Reid, Schummer wants to get rid of filibuster – think twice.

    But those who call Obama sell out or Clinton sell out – grow the fuck up and you and your exact types are the reasons, why the Conservative Party here is the most successful political party in the Western World and the Republicans are becoming a winning machine.

    Clinton fucked with their heads and beat them at their game – usually when the Repubs go after someone through all media outlets, their ratings fall – Bill Clinton’s worked the other way and Obama can do it as well. All he has to do is ignore the idiotic left and wow! he is just doing that.

    btw, Lucy, if the President did not show leadership, how in the hell did the almost trillion dollar stimulus pass – what about health care – what about the finance bill – what about turning around the US auto industry – but idiotic left never cared about policy, or people or governing – they only love themselves as they prove everyday.

  7. chetk — on 18th December, 2010 at 5:03 pm  

    ‘btw, Lucy, if the President did not show leadership, how in the hell did the almost trillion dollar stimulus pass – what about health care – what about the finance bill – what about turning around the US auto industry – but idiotic left never cared about policy, or people or governing – they only love themselves as they prove everyday.’

    Oh dear, not really understanding modern American politcs or the ability of an American President to define the current political climate are you…?

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