President Obama continues to outsmart, out-strategize and out-talk the Republicans in the debt-ceiling standoff ... Vice President Biden spent weeks entertaining discussions of massive spending cuts - as much as 3 trillion dollars in spending - that is now clear that the White House had no intention of ever actually agreeing to in the end - because the White House always knew that the Republicans would never agree to the White House tax revenue proposals ~ Lawrence O'Donnell (b. 11/7/1951) on the 7/13/2011 broadcast of his MSNBC program "The Last Word".
Critics of the president denigrate him by referring to him as a community organizer. For some it's an insult to his intelligence, meant to imply that he is in over his head. He isn't qualified to be president and does not know what he is doing. For others the term "community organizer" is a political dog whistle used to disguise their racism to individuals not hip to the most current code words.
"Community organizer" is code for, according to a 9/13/2011 Daily Kos blog post, "N-Word Lover". A certain individual who posts on a supposed Moderate blog I frequent uses the term quite often. He also refers to the president as "Obie". My guess was that "Obie" is code for "boy" (see the first comment here for an example of what I'm talking about).
The Right-wing Obama-haters also frequently refer to the president's use of teleprompters, even though Reagan and both bushes used them. The blog Pensito Review suggests that "racism is at the heart of rightwing disbelief that a black man would be as stunningly brilliant and yes, articulate, as Barack Obama". That sounds very probable to me.
I have posted on the subject of the teabag racists in the past. I agreed then (and still do now) with President Jimmy Carter who described the bigots as a "radical fringe element". But whether or not any particular Tea Partier is racist or not, there is one thing that is certain, which is Community Organizer smart trumps Tea Party stupid.
In the debt ceiling negotiations President Obama offered a four trillion dollar "grand bargain" which was to consist of 1 trillion in tax revenues and 3 trillion in cuts (including cuts to Social Security and Medicare), but as the president himself pointed out, "nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to". He was signaling to Congressional Democrats and his base that they should not worry about cuts to our social safety net programs because the Republicans would not agree to everything ("everything being the 25% of the deal that was revenue increases). The purpose of offering so much was to appear reasonable to Moderates and Independents (which he needs to win re-election).
"The president's superior strategic maneuvering" is how Lawrence O'Donnell characterized the president's plan to gain the upper hand by appearing reasonable ("The Last Word" 7/13/2011). The Republican leadership knows they have no choice but to raise the debt ceiling, but are afraid of angering the Tea Party elements within their party which does not.
I propose we call this lack of ability to compromise and general ignorance regarding the workings of government "Tea Party Stupid". Absent the stupid the Republicans COULD have extracted some serious concessions from the President, but instead the question is who is going to capitulate and give the other side exactly what they want (which, in the president's case, would be an increase in the debt with zero other stipulations).
Acknowledging Republican Party leadership had been duped, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell characterized the three options offered by the president as "smoke and mirrors, take hikes, or default". Then he added, "Republicans choose none of the above". So, if they can accept no deal (not the "smoke and mirrors" deal and not the deal they proposed) AND since the debt ceiling MUST be raised - then raising the ceiling with no conditions is the only option left.
"I refuse to help Barack Obama get re-elected by marching Republicans into a position where we have co-ownership of a bad economy" McConnell said when explaining his party's idiotic refusal to accept ANY deal (even the one which handed Republicans virtually everything they want). The truth of the matter, however, is that they are scared of the stupid.
But the Republican leadership still needs to figure out how they can concede and still claim victory, or place all the blame on the president. They also need to convince House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (who, unlike Boehner and McConnell, is still saying "no deal, no way") to get with the program. If they fail to do this they risk bringing down the wrath of the Tea Party on their heads.
Mitch McConnell proposed allowing the President to pass three debt ceiling hikes (through the end of his term) which the Republicans could disapprove of - but then the president could veto (Youtube video). A clueless Boehner voiced his approval for the McConnell plan saying, "frankly I think Mitch has done good work".
McConnell and Boehner were hoping that, given Tea Party Stupid was the reason they were in this quandary, Tea Party Stupid could get them out of it. Unfortunately even the Tea Party was not quite dumb enough to fall for McConnell's copout. They knew McConnell was looking for a way to give the President exactly what he wants and still be able to claim the Republicans voted against it.
Conservative commentators were not fooled either. Michael Medved, writing for The Daily Beast on 7/14/2011, called the McConnell proposal "cowardly", although his article also uses the word "cunning" (cowardly but cunning). Personally I fail to see how such a transparent deceit could possibly be called "cunning".
This is a victory for Barack Obama no matter what happens next. In addition to using the Tea Party Stupid against the Republicans, he used the stupid to APPEAR reasonable and fool Moderates and Independents. Can the blog of a certain so-called Moderate be taken as proof that the President's ploy was successful? "I try and call it down the middle as often as possible... [and] I've totally got the scars to prove it" the self-described Moderate claims. These Blue Dog dopes praised Obama for placing entitlement cuts on the table. A 1/11/2011 blog post says "he's the one who's being serious and taking on his base".
But the offer was never genuine. If you recall these same types of rumors were flying around just prior to the President's 2011 State of the Union address. A 1/21/2011 CBS News article says "voters have approved of the president's recent moderate moves" and, as a result, "Obama's job approval rating stands at 49 percent, up from 45 percent in October". So, again, the president said things to appear Moderate, but didn't actually follow through. The takeaway lesson is that "nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to".
In conclusion... I'm happy the President is kicking Republican ass in the negotiations, and that the 3 trillion in cuts, and the placing of entitlement reform on the table is all just a bluff. The good news is that the Tea Party loses and the Moderates are fooled (which will help the president get re-elected). The bad news is that AT BEST the only the only thing the Democrats will get will be a clean bill raising the debt ceiling. Maybe we'll get some tax revenues through the elimination of loophole and subsidies. If possible I'd really, really like to see the subsidies for the oil industry go. But I still think the President should have pushed for the elimination of the bush tax cuts the MINUTE he assumed office, and should have NEVER agreed to extend them. I pray that the next time they expire that this is it, and THEY ARE GONE FOR GOOD.
Republican Congresspersons Who Are Reconsidering Their Stance Re the Debt Ceiling
Maybe the debt ceiling was the wrong place to pick a fight, as it related to trying to get our country's house in order ~ Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee speaking on the Senate floor, 7/14/2011
Our problem is, we made a big deal about this for three months. How many Republicans have been on TV saying, "I am not going to raise the debt limit". We have no one to blame but ourselves ~ Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, as quoted in a 7/13/2011 New York Times article.