The Ideologue in the Oval Office
"I think increasingly the American people are going to say to themselves, 'You know what? If a party or a politician is constantly taking the position my-way-or-the-highway, constantly being locked into ideologically rigid positions, that we're going to remember at the polls,'" President Obama said at his Friday news conference.
I know everyone is sick of hearing about the debt-limit negotiations. Lord knows I am. When I turn on the news these days, I feel like one of the passengers seated next to
Still, regardless of how things turn out with the negotiations, what we are witnessing is the rollout of the Obama re-election campaign's theme: Obama is the pragmatic voice of reason holding the ideologues at bay.
So it's worth asking, before this branding campaign gels into the conventional wisdom: Who is the real ideologue here?
The president, we are told, is a pragmatist for wanting a "fair and balanced" budget deal. What that means is tax increases must accompany spending cuts. Any significant spending cuts would be way in the future. The tax increases would begin right after Obama is re-elected.
Now keep in mind that tax hikes (or what the administration calls "revenue increases") are Obama's idee fixe. He campaigned on raising taxes for millionaires and billionaires (defined in the small print as people making more than
During a primary debate, he was asked by
Earlier last week, referring to the fact that he is rich, the president said: "I do not want, and I will not accept, a deal in which I am asked to do nothing. In fact, I'm able to keep hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional income that I don't need."
Leaving aside the fact that the man lives in public housing and has a government jet at his disposal -- so his definition of "need" might be a bit out of whack -- what is pragmatic about this position?
Obama says that Republicans are rigid ideologues because they won't put "everything on the table." Specifically, they won't consider tax hikes, even though polls suggest Americans wouldn't mind soaking "the rich," "big oil" and "corporate jet owners."
But Obama hasn't put everything on the table either. He's walled off "ObamaCare" and the rest of his "winning the future" agenda.
If Obama believes the American people are the voice of reason when it comes to tax hikes, why does their opinion count for nothing when it comes to ObamaCare, which has never been popular? (According to a RealClearPolitics average of polls, only 38.6 percent of voters favor the plan.) Why not look for some savings there?
Consider the frustration of the supposedly ideologically locked-in
Republicans won a historic election last November campaigning against the spending, borrowing, tax hikes and ObamaCare. Yet Obama's position is that the Republicans are deranged dogmatists because they don't want to raise taxes or borrow more money to pay for spending they opposed. And Obama is flexible because he refuses to revisit a program that has never been popular.
Meanwhile, the sole example of Obama's pragmatism -- that he has publicly acknowledged -- is his openness to means-testing
I know why liberals would support that, but for the life of me I can't see how it's non-ideological.
Read the latest political news.
- Media Takeaways From the Latest Round of Scandals
- Michele Bachmann's 'Submerged' Benefits
- Fight Over Financial Safeguards: Another Front In The Partisan Warfare
- Green, Shovel-Ready Stimulus -- 100 Years Ago
- When Politics Stop Working
- Conservative Appeals Court Judge Paves the Way for Affordable Health Care
- New Fears EPA Smog Rule Will Cost 7.3 Million Jobs
- Eroding the Social Contract
- Can 'Gang of Six' Save the Day on Debt Ceiling?
- Do We Need the Debt Ceiling?
- The Ideologue in the Oval Office
- The Rise of the Wrecking-Ball Right
- Many Ideas for Job Creation, but Little Action
- Eliminating Mortgage Interest Deduction Could Further Hobble Housing Recovery
- War Fatigue and the Un-Critical Critics of War
- Obama's Expanded Militarism
- Obama's Bush-League World
- Debt Fight Reinforces China's Negative Views of America
- Rupert Murdoch's Legacy -- Greater Press Controls
- Military-Industrial Journalism
- On Journalistic Credibility
- Another Blow to Journalism's Image
- 5 Ways Michele Bachmann Can Win 2012 Swing Voters
- A Religious Test for 2012?
- EPA Budget and Power Under Attack from Republicans
- GOP Takes Dead Aim on EPA
- The Question is Jobs
- Panetta's Gaffe
- Declaring a National Emergency
- The Federal Debt Limit Debate: A Leadership Opportunity
- Millionaires and Billionaires
- The Presidency Matters, But How Much Does Obama?
- Obama's Reagan Parallels Are Falling Away
- The President's Jobs Plan
- Budget Debate Has Troublesome Historical Underpinnings
- It's Back! The Misery Index Rides Again
- Handling Big Contradictions
- Why Are We Afraid to Cross the Lines that Divide Us?
- Bernie Sanders: Make the Rich Pay Off the Deficit
- The Free Market Fails at Food Safety
- The Growing Desperation of the Don't-Raise-Taxes-on-the-Rich Crowd
- If Not This, Then What Are Our Taxes Paying For?
- Debt Limit Irresponsibility
- Debt Ceiling Deal Could Mean Social Security Cuts
- The Tax Cuts for the Rich Again
- Stand-Up Time for Obama
- President Obama's Balancing Act
- New Jersey Miracle: What About the Rest of Us?
- For 2012 Republicans: The Economy Trumps the Culture War
- Michele Bachmann's Beginnings
- GOP Attacking Americans' Right to Vote
- Marco Rubio: Ready for Political Primetime
- 'Mortal Kombat' and the First Amendment
- The Unethical Clarence Thomas
- On Humanitarianism: Is Helping Others Charity or Duty or Both?
- Does Obama Have a Grand Strategy?
- How Health Care Can Save or Sink America
- Charlie Crist Would Topple Rick Scott Next Florida Governor Race
- Big Media Suicide Compact
- Sarah Palin and the Media Bring Out the Worst in Each Other
- GOP's War on Workers' Rights Undermines the Economy
- Rejection of Reality Has Become Endemic to Politics
- Are the Republicans Going Soft on Taxes?
- Senators Urge IRS to Provide Taxpayers With Free Software
- AARP on Social Security: A Game-Changer for Entitlement Programs?
- Younger Women Desert Female Candidates
- Will Jon Huntsman Impact the 2012 Field?
- Will Jon Huntsman's Foreign Policy Experience Even Matter for 2012?
- Should Rick Perry Run for the 2012 GOP Nomination?
- Why Anthony Weiner Had to Resign
- Anthony Weiner: Normalizing Deviance
- Anthony Weiner: The Shameless Society
- 8 Politicians Who Survived Scandals
- Momentum Grows for Payroll Tax Cut
- America's Fading Exceptionalism
- When It Comes to Sleaze Men Rule
- President Obama: Our Reactionary President
- Latest On Obama's War Powers Act Workaround
- New GOP Majority Is Trying to Cut Spending, But Not By Enough
- 'Utterly Insane' Health Care Insurance Situation
- Odds Just 1 in 3 on Deal to Raise Debt Ceiling
- An Unrevealing Debate
- The Gingrich Implosion
- GOP Activists Hope for Surprise 2012 Candidate
- Michele Bachmann: The Smart Version of Sarah Palin
- Media Hit Bottom With Sarah Palin Emails
- Hispanics Key to Victory in 2012 Presidential Race
- Anthony Weiner Not the Only 'Flash' Photographer, Sadly
- The President Shouldn't Go Over to the Supply Side
- The Afghan Money Pit
- United States and Pakistan: Afghan Strategies
- Predator Syndrome
- Anti Voter Fraud Reforms Are Practical Not Partisan
- With Rick Santorum Religious Conservatives May Have a 2012 Candidate
- The Truth Is the GOP Has 2012 Trouble
- Obama 2012: Custom-Tailored History
- Robert Gates Departure Could Bring Makeover for Obama on National Security
- Washington Plays Chicken With the Market
- GOP Pushes Balanced Budget Amendment
- For Many Republicans Afghanistan Is A Budget Issue
- Will Mitt Romney Be Able to Dodge Healthcare Flip-Flopper Label?
- Mitt Romney's Second Try
- Is Sarah Palin Wrong to Stand by her Paul Revere Statements?
- On History Sarah Palin is Just Like a Lot of Us
- Little Evidence Weiner Broke Law in Twitter Photo Scandal
- Anthony Weiner: Sex Scandal Sans Sex
- Anthony Weiner: Here's the Lowdown on 'Weinergate'
- Anthony Weiner: A Time For Sadness
- Breaking Down the Debt-Ceiling Debate
- Congress' Bipartisan Vice Is Cowardice
- 40 Years Later: America's Failed War on Drugs
- Something We Can Say With Certitude: The Economy Stinks!
- Solution to US Budget Woes Lies in Ending Its Many Wars
- Tea Party Fear: Has Washington Co-Opted New House Members?
- Obamacare Scare Fizzles
- 5 Reasons Sarah Palin Will Get the 2012 GOP Nod and 5 Reasons She Won't
- Latest GOP Sideshow
- Citizen Cain Rhymes With 'Pain'
- Florida GOP Won't Let Democracy Get Out of Hand
- 8 Easy Ways to Cut Government Spending
- Balanced Budget Movement Grows In House
- Senators Propose Closing State Offices to Save on Budget
- The Factory of Selective Moral Outrage
- Republicans and Democrats No Closer to Compromising on Jobs Plan
- Why Republican Medicare Strategy Just Might Work in Long Run
- Beware the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex
- Obama's Bad Policy and Harmful Regulations Add to Gas Prices
- Congress Wants More Clarity on Obama's Libya Policy
- New DNC Boss Calls GOP 'Anti-Women'
- Obama Is Deceiving Hispanics on Immigration
- Obama and the Shifting Ground of Race
- Eliot Spitzer's 10 Rules To Fixing the Economy and Corporate Mismanagement
- A Bad Day That Never Changes
- Executive Pay Zooming Skyward Again
- On Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Shakespeare and the Enemy in the Mirror
- The Battle for the Soul of the GOP
- To Fix the Budget Deficit Raise Corporate Taxes
- The Case for and Against The TARP Bailout
- Obama's Secret Weapon for 2012 Re-Election Campaign: The Economy
- 10 Issues Driving Obama's 2012 Re-Election Campaign
- Koch Brothers War on America
- Ignorant Certainty
- Apocalypse, Oops! -- Lessons From a Failed Doom
- Giuliani Aiming to Take Down Romney in New Hampshire
- Tim Pawlenty Aims for the Straight Talk Mantel
- Newt Gingrich Will Star In Democrats' Anti-Ryan Medicare Attacks
- Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin Leading 2012 GOP Field
- GOP Horse With No Rider
- What Price Our Principles?
- Pentagon and Obama Bomb House Bid To Revive Jet Engine
- Congress's Deep Support for Israel May Not Lead to Action
- President Obama Counters Criticism on Middle East
- Obama Offers Little New In Middle East Speech
- The Latest Futility: New President, Same Middle East
- Elizabeth Warren to Obama: 'You Had Me at Predatory Lending'
- Guess Who's Running For President in 2012?
- Even Without Donald Trump, Plenty of Clowns in the 2012 GOP Field
- Who Benefits from Huckabee and Trump 2012 Announcements
- Bin Laden Killing Is Obama's Defining Moment
- Herb Kohl Retirement Adds to Democrats 2012 Senate Woes
- Government Hits Debt Ceiling as Parties Squabble
- Boehner's Debt Ceiling Speech Shows Problems of Obamanomics
- Four Roadblocks to Obama's Immigration Reform
- Alligators, Moats and Other Such Nonsense
- Obama Talks Nice About Immigration Reform But What Is He Willing to Do?
- Mitt Romney: Like Father, Like Son
- Why Newt Gingrich Will be the 2012 GOP Nominee for President
- The GOP Field for 2012: Who's on First?
- Republicans Vs. Invisibility
- A Sharper GOP Field for 2012
- GOP Warns Of Back Door Mileage Tax
- Big Oil Tax Break Vote Could Hurt Vulnerable Republicans
- Why Congress Cannot Fix Your Gas Prices Pain
- Why Washington Should Pay Attention to the Economy Here and Now
- On Gas Prices Obama Should Lead or Get Out of the Way
- Putting $4 Gas In Perspective
- 7 Ways the United States Population is Changing
- Dear Class of 2011: Good Luck You're Really Going to Need It
- Big Oil's Money Gusher
- Lawmakers Tell Obama to End Afghanistan War
- Osama bin Laden Is Dead: Does Obama or Bush Deserve the Credit?
- What did Killing Osama bin Laden Actually Accomplish?
- Toning Down the Celebrating
- Why the Hurry to Gloat About Bin Laden?
- Wall Street Lobbyists Trying to Sway Tea Party
- Killed by Tea Party GOP, Second F-35 Engine Revived
- Trotting Out the GOP Candidates
- Bad GOP Timing
- Recall Elections Enhance Democracy
- Recall Elections Waste Public Funds and Cause Chaos
- A Memorial Day to Remember
Available at Amazon.com:
The Ideologue in the Oval Office | Politics
(c) 2011 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.