Today in Washington, DC, Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal asked President Obama how he would respond to Democrats who think he’s compromised too much in agreeing on a two-year extension of all the Bush-era tax cuts. Obama responded forcefully, saying that the positions of such people on the left would result in getting nothing done, except having a “sanctimonious” pride in the purity of their own positions.
David Kurtz of Talking Points Memo likes where the President is on this.
He has tried to be both pragmatist and progressive savior. And even when he stopped trying to be the savior after he was elected, he was at a certain level content to let supporters continue to project that persona on to him.
Today, he very clearly and loudly said: that savior persona is not me. I am the pragmatist. And you know what, I don’t have a whole lot of patience for the idealists. I share their ideals, but I don’t share their approach and I’m not going to get bogged down in recriminations over not living up to some abstract ideal.
Here’s the problem. When you compromise away what you stand for because it is the expedient thing to do, you’ve robbed yourself of the one thing that matters–your integrity.
I might add that Obama’s fiery defense of his need to be pragmatic in the face of mounting opposition makes for good C-SPAN material, but that’s about the only positive I can find in it. Republicans put a bumbling fool in the White House for eight years and proceeded to mow down the Constitution like an overgrown field–with ZERO compromise–but when the other team finally gets its chance, the highly educated, skilled orators end up looking like political buffoons.
I understand the need to get things done, but the fact is small steps in the right direction is not a winning defense for the Obama team. They better come up with something better and fast, or their feeble attempt at wielding real power is over.