Andrew Romano (Daily Beast): Obama outmaneuvers his opponents – and his allies – every time … Andrew Romano looks at how the president’s pragmatism gets results.
….nary a day has passed without some Republican, somewhere, calling him a weakling, a wimp, or worse. But last week, as Obama prepared to respond to Paul Ryan’s long-term budget plan with a proposal of his own, an unlikely group of kvetches joined the girlie-man chorus to carp about the president’s once and future fecklessness: the nation’s top liberal pundits.
….Paul Krugman mocked the president as a “bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular”. The Daily Beast’s Eric Alterman likened the leader of the free world to “a boxer who … [spends] the entire fight taking punch after punch on the ropes” … the only thing missing was Keith Olbermann flapping his arms and clucking “chicken”.
To hear Krugman & Co. tell it, Obama was all set to stride on stage at George Washington University, collapse into the fetal position, and announce that he was willing do whatever John Boehner wanted. What actually happened, however, was quite different. In a forceful 40-minute speech, the president outlined a plan to reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. The speech wasn’t wholly liberal. But it hit most of the notes – raising taxes on the rich, shrinking the defense budget, protecting the social safety net – that liberals longed to hear.
…he is a hard-nosed pragmatist determined to maximize results. When liberals whine, says White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, it’s like “a fourth-inning analysis of a nine-inning game. People say ‘he screwed up the negotiations,’ but the deal ends up being very good given the political reality”.
…Obama’s initial leadership strategy was tailored to a time when Republicans couldn’t torpedo his agenda. In policy terms, the approach paid off, helping him put more points on the board during his first two years – the stimulus package, health-care reform, financial regulation, and so on – than any president since LBJ….
..Last week reports revealed that Obama’s agreement with Republicans to slash $38 billion from the 2011 budget – the supposedly timid compromise that kindled the left’s conniption – actually contained less than $25 billion in spending cuts, few of them to cherished Democratic programs. The same day, Public Policy Polling released a survey showing that independents, who backed Republicans 56 percent to 37 percent in 2010, now prefer Democrats 42 percent to 33 percent – a 28-point reversal. If those are the sort of things that happen when a president takes “punch after punch on the ropes,” then Obama might want to keep getting slugged.
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