Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 4:06 PM ET, 12/ 1/2010

Obama's bad poker

By Ezra Klein


On page 116 of “The Promise,” Jonathan Alter describes President Obama's approach to the stimulus as "bad poker." "Instead of holding his cards close, and then sweetening the pot for Republicans with tax cuts in the final negotiations, [Obama] offered nearly $300 billion in tax cuts at the front-end of the process. ... It was a big bargaining chip left off the table."

Obama has since admitted as much. "It might have been better for us not to include tax cuts in the original package, let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts, and then say, O.K., you know, we’ll compromise and give you your tax cuts," he told Peter Baker. So why does he keep including the tax cuts?

Annoyed congressional staffers and baffled strategists rattle the list of concessions the White House has unilaterally made to Republicans from memory. There were the $300 billion in tax cuts, of course. The non-security discretionary spending freeze, a longtime Republican demand that the Obama administration simply announced during the 2010 State of the Union (Republicans responded by demanding discretionary spending cuts back to 2008 levels). During the climate-change debate, the administration gave away an expansion of offshore drilling, loan guarantees for nuclear power plants and delay of EPA regulations until 2011 -- all Republican demands that Lindsey Graham, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman were hoping to trade for GOP support. "Obama had served the dessert before the children even promised to eat their spinach," reported Ryan Lizza. "Graham was the only Republican negotiating on the climate bill, and now he had virtually nothing left to take to his Republican colleagues." And most recently, there's the two-year freeze in federal pay.

Different parts of the White House give different answers when asked about this strategy. Some argue that these decisions were simply good policy, and the president is right not to treat them as bargaining chips. The whole theory of legislative politics as some sort of negotiation is wrong, they say. The Republicans were never going to negotiate, and so holding these as chips would've simply meant never doing them. Better to do them unilaterally and get the credit. Some will defend certain policies but not others. The tax cuts were done unilaterally because the administration was committed to a particular design that it thought would do more for the economy, though this doesn't get mentioned much because it makes them look less bipartisan. And some staffers just laugh ruefully when you use the word "strategy."

"The best negotiator I ever came across was [former Reagan and Bush chief of staff] Jim Baker," says Paul Begala, who served as an adviser to President Clinton. "He began every negotiation with this sentence: 'Nothing is agreed to till everything is agreed to.' So no one can pocket anything, and no one suffers for making the first move." To many Democrats, Republicans have simply proven the wisdom of Baker's strategy: They keep pocketing these gains without giving the White House any credit, while both the Democrats and Obama take lashings from their base for being insufficiently principled and tactically incompetent.

"You don't go out and say you're going to freeze federal pay on your own," says one angry Hill staffer. "You go sit across a table from someone, say, ‘I'm willing to do this, but this is what you’ve got to give me.’ That’s how this works."

The going theory -- which you hear both inside and outside the White House -- is that this is what happens when a president who wants to be bipartisan gets stuck in a partisan moment. Obama remains intent on proving his interest in working across the aisle but impatient with negotiations that will go nowhere and produce nothing. It's worth sitting down with drug companies because concessions might buy their support. It's not worth doing it with Republicans because concessions don't attract their support, as the Gang of Six, among other negotiations, proved.

But the White House's critics think the proof is in the election. Democrats just got "shellacked." Obama gained absolutely nothing by seeming more reasonable than his opponents. In fact, the Republicans ran some notably unreasonable candidates and still won the election. The question, they say, isn't why Obama wants this strategy to work. It's when he'll admit that it's failed.

Photo credit: By Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

By Ezra Klein  | December 1, 2010; 4:06 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Infidelity in Russia
Next: Republicans dare Democrats to reform the filibuster


Seeing as how Rand Paul did, as you note, win... and by double digits.... isn't it possible voters consider his views to be absolutely reasonable?

Posted by: sailingaway1 | December 1, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

isn't this then what you get when you have a politician at such a high office with very little if any real time experience in such office? I've always thought that about President Obama, ie that he seems like a very nice person in general but couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag.

Posted by: visionbrkr | December 1, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a deer in the headlights. He wasn't ready to deal with the economy that hit him before taking office. So he has finished what Bush started by bailing out the banks, but with no serious plan for jobs (= serious stimulus). And he wasn't ready for the hard-ball opposition the Republicans have confronted him with. So he keeps acting like they will come around if he just keeps making nice. He seems to be a pretty slow learner.

Posted by: jtmiller42 | December 1, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Astute post, Ezra. Either there's some strange psychological dynamic at work here, or the President is a moderate Republican who does what moderate Republicans do: cave in to the demands of the GOP base. I've never seen a President go out of his way to spurn his own voters, whether rhetorically or politically, not even Clinton in his most centrist, "New Democrat" moments. In any event, the President is fast becoming a leader without a constituency.

As I said earlier, progressives have closed their mouths and sat on their hands for a very long time, if for no either reason than they've felt protective of our first black President. But if he gets played in this lame-duck session -- mortifying concessions on tax cuts and freezes on raises and DADT and START for zero in retun -- then I predict you'll see a serious drive to draft a primary challenger. It's a whole lot closer to reality than Beltway pundits think.

Posted by: scarlota | December 1, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I say let's play chicken with the Republicans. The people support the Democratic position on tax cuts. Let them all expire before surrendering again but make sure everyone knows the Republicans were responsible. Don't let them control the sound bytes. Everyone get tax cuts on the first 250,000. That's more than enough in time of war. In time of war there shouldn't even be tax cuts. It's unpatriotic.
The Republicans are never pushed to the limit. Do it this time!!

Posted by: guyachs | December 1, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

I will not be voting for the Republican pres. nominee in 2012--- Barack Obama

Posted by: jmfromdc | December 1, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

scarlota wrote:

"then I predict you'll see a serious drive to draft a primary challenger. It's a whole lot closer to reality than Beltway pundits think."

Sorry it isn't going to happen. Even Ted Kennedy at his peak couldn't beat the hapless Jimmy Carter. Only a fringe type like Kucinich would make such a challenge.

Posted by: 54465446 | December 1, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I find it truly amazing that a Chicago politician is as inept as Obama at playing politics. (The counter-argument is, I guess, that O was never a Chicago pol.) And in public at this point, his studious, detached, professorial demeanor looks more & more like that of a beaten dog.

Tough times call for tough people. It's starting to look like O just aint tough enough.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 1, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse


There's definitely a stange psychological dynamic at work here. It's called Obama's
deeply instilled fear of making enemies, of having anybody dislike him for any reason. You can read all about it in the works of Drew Westin on Huff post. He's a prof at emory who has psychoanalyzed Obama up one side and down the other.

Posted by: rjewett | December 1, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

President Obama like most Americans hoped that the GOP would put the country before politics and personal gain. That was the change we all hoped for. For the GOPers it was seen as weakness to be exploited for their patrons, the very wealthiest power brokers.

Posted by: jbowen431 | December 1, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, isn't this all about the Senate? If senators weren't allowed to filibuster without any accountability, then much of the President's agenda would have passed and we could have an honest debate on their merits. I think what Ezra's post lacks is the concept that Mr. Obama was not negotiating with Republicans, I believe he understood quite early on that they were going to completely obstruct, but rather he was negotiating with conservative/Blue Dog Democrats.

The Democratic Party is not the Republican Party, there is no lock step on virtually any issue because of the wide diversity. That's what the President has to work with. If he had uniformity the way Bush II did with the Republicans, then this strategy discussion makes sense. But he doesn't, he has Democrats willing to knife him to get re-elected.

Posted by: GQFord | December 1, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Barry the incompetent boob Obama is in no position to force anything to happen in Congress.

This headless chicken in the White House is the same incompetent boob of a boob who recently bragged:

"We don't mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back."

That was just one week before the election ... one week later the Dims lost 62 seats in the House and with it control of the House.

Miserable failure Obama.

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 1, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

There were the $300 billion in tax cuts, of course.

This administration and Democrats in general have been making this claim ever since the stimulus was passed. Here are the married-filing-jointly figures from the IRS 1040 instruction book for 2008 and 2009. Someone tell me who got any significant tax cut in 2009.


Taxable income………….Tax



30,000 …………….3,701………3,669

40,000 …………….5,201………5,169

50,000 …………….6,701………6,669

60,000 …………….8,201………8,169

70,000 …………...10,194………9,881

80,000 …………...12,694……..12,381

90,000 …………...15,194……..14,881

99,000 …………...17,444……..17,131

Posted by: retiredspook | December 1, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

A President, clearly over his head, is asked to negotiate smarter? Why limit the discussion to domestic affairs, how about including feckless foreign policy? Obama campaigned to restore supposedly lost prestige and moral clarity. What followed; pretty much everything he supposedly objected to was sustained, but profuse apologies were dispensed liberally, tyrants were appeased, allies snubbed, the Justice Department seemed unhinged, but students worldwide still adored Obama.

Give me a break. This administration is Carter redux.

Posted by: ecrutle | December 1, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I agree with those who say -- let the tax cuts expire a few months. To President Obama, millions of Americans voted for you, then we came to your defense, we've tried to explain your principles and priorities but it's getting hard to do because you are not helping us to either understand or explain. The Bush tax cuts for the top 2% should not be an option or even open for discussion at a time when this country cannot afford it. Throughout midterms and before we've heard nothing but how we need to pay down the federal deficit from the Republican party. We need to mirror their words back to them. Sorry Paris Hilton, not this year... Sorry Mr. Football player... taxes are due Sorry Linsay Lohan... These tax breaks are not going to benefit the economy or create jobs. The rich need to do their part to restore America rather than dump the weight of the world on the poor, the elderly and helpless children. President Obama needs to stand up and represent the people.

Posted by: deborahjbrown | December 1, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

While it may be that MOST politicians would like their negotiations to be like poker or some other "game," it's a sorry state of the nation when that is true.

And the nation is in a very sorry state that was not created by President Obama. He was elected to the office after years of 'toying' around with unnecessary war, massive tax cuts for obscenely wealthy incomes and worse.

What America finds so hard to understand is a genuinely moral and serious President who believes our national plight far too dangerous for games and thinks that maybe -- just maybe -- there are other officials and perhaps a newspaper or two who can see the problem as it is. It won't be the Washington Post, that's clear.

Posted by: HawaiiBill | December 1, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm beginning to believe the bitter, hateful, intolerant old theocon, Soap Operah Sarah is right.

Dems have no "cajones" (or street smarts for that matter) in dealing with these teabagger bullies.

Give Congress a sabbatical without pay for the next two years. Nothing good or new is going to happen during that time with all the obstruction, delay and partisanship. Obama is obviously out of his league in dealing with it.

Let lobbyists support them and their families so they can go off and play golf, bash gays, wear their Nazi SS uniforms, cheat on their wives, go to church to primp, pray, pose, pretend and pimp poor old Jesus; or whatever else they like to do instead of their job on The Hill.

The American Congress is a laughing stock. Too bad Wikileaks couldn't reveal the deceit, selfishness and corruption of these miscreants whose elections were bought by big business and foreign interests.

Posted by: areyousaying | December 1, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Insightful posting, Ezra. But I do see one ray of hope, though it falls into the "Things have to get worse to get better" category: Even before the new Congress convenes, Republicans are already behaving like bullies, insisting that they get their way on everything. So I have a hunch that Obama is playing the long game here, mindful of what happened in 1995.

At least that's what I hope!

Posted by: DCSteve1 | December 1, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

No more games, please.

Posted by: LoyalDem1 | December 1, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Most of these accusations (lousy negotiator, naive, afraid of making enemies, shocked and disappointed that people don't love him, etc.) can be true and he could still be good for the country.

And, if he cares more about the ultimate outcomes than the politics (which we seem to be defining as beating the republicans at their own game), then he still may be capable of significant surprise. You can be a effective negotiator in the trenches (he sure doesn't seem like it), or you can be effective because you are operating with different values and you are willing to do something the other guy thinks is completely insane. Like let the tax cuts expire.

Count me among the people who still like him. He's not perfect, but he's doing OK. It's a tough job. And he's got two more years to go. He proved a certain level of toughness by beating Clinton. Which also means he's a good campaigner -- and he'll be good again in 2012.

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | December 1, 2010 5:18 PM | Report abuse

As progressive business types, and independent voters, my wife and I are baffled. My wife says Obama may be a Manchurian Candidate, since he just hasn't any ability to stand up and fight like a man, consequently vanquishing so many hopes for moving the country into the global mainstream. It really is shocking how many liberals and moderates who supported him are now disgusted by his inability to be strong against the Teapublican subversives, and be a President who the opposition fears, like LBJ or even Nixon. What a putz. And that's saying something coming from me.

Posted by: enough3 | December 1, 2010 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Without stopping the spending there is no basis for negotiations!
Whenever negotiations are in order, President Obama always let ideology kick in making him defenseless.

Posted by: rteske | December 1, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Leftists still seem to think that Barry the incompetent boob Obama's problem is that he does not talk enough.

Never about Barry's failed presidency or discredited agenda though, is it Dims? Hmm?

Miserable failure Obama

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 1, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

i don't buy this analysis, nor lizza's eneryg bill piece nor packer's "lost year" piece.

andrew sprung's i buy:

Posted by: jackjudge4000yahoocom | December 1, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Some people agree with Obama's positions, and some people don't.

But if they are being honest, EVERYONE has to agree that Obama is totally incompetent.

He had essentially no experience that qualified him for the job. Throughout his life, he has had everything handed to him on a silver platter - scholarships, jobs, book deals, political support. He's neither particularly smart, nor particularly energetic. He appears to have little or no empathy for others.

If he were white, he probably couldn't even get elected to the local school board.

Posted by: pmendez | December 1, 2010 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, a lousy poker player. The problem with Obama is he folds at the onset, throws his cards in without playing out another hand. To quick to quit.

Posted by: RedRat | December 1, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

As an employer who employs 47 full and part time workers, I have already decided what I am going to do if the tax levels don't stay where they have been. It's easy. After 30 years of hard work and sweat, I finally am making over 250K/yr...but far far less than a million. For 30 years I have worked to hard to spend any of the many that I have made never being able to even afford to leave the business to vacation. Now that I am in my 50's, the libs want to raise my taxes and make me start paying much more and quite frankly I have had enough. Think on this libs since I am sure I am not alone. If the libs let the tax cuts expire I will immediately trim my part time work force by 60% and my full time work force by 25%-30% starting on January 1st. I have always paid full health benefits for not only my employees...but their whole family's coverage have always come out of my pocket also. The new plan will see the employee paying 50% of their personal premiums and 100% of their family's premiums if they want to keep the health insurance. C'mon want to play chicken..let's play! I would rather cash out my business and retire hapily than to pay more in taxes. Until 100% have skin in the game and pay Federal taxes...KMA!

Posted by: steelers01 | December 1, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

Two remarks:
1) A state employee who works at a university maintenance facility - "Did you see Obama proposed freezing wages for Fed employees? It's about time the pain got spread around. We've been on a wage freeze for three years now. It sucks, but a lot of people have retired. Maybe that's what they wanted the whole time."

2) Virtually every blogger - "Obama freezes federal wages. This isn't the way to do it!! There are better ways to play this game!! This isn't a serious proposal!! This is a Republican idea that Obama threw away for no reason!! What are his true motives??".

Notice the difference between the political junkies and the moderately-informed populace.

Posted by: klautsack | December 1, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse


"Either there's some strange psychological dynamic at work here, or the President is a moderate Republican who does what moderate Republicans do: cave in to the demands of the GOP base."


Here's my theory:

Barack Obama is actually a deep-cover GOP mole put in place back in the early 80's by Richard Nixon to exact revenge on the Democrats!

After Nixon was driven out of office, he met a kid named Barry O'Brien at a YAF conference in Kansas. Nixon saw that he could read well off a teleprompter. Nixon had the CIA create an exotic false identity for Barry, and FBI informants made sure Barry caught the eye of washed-up 60's radicals like Ayers.

So far, the plan is working perfectly. By 2013, the Democrats will be utterly anihilated, and Tricky Dick will have played his last trick from beyond the grave!


Posted by: pmendez | December 1, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Barry the inept bungler is the lame duck here, a lame duck president after just 22 months in office.

It is hilarious to read dazed, confused leftists like Klein chastise Barry for not being a tough negotiator as if this leftist trainwreck of a presidency was lost due to weak bargaining ability. Barry the incompetent boob could not get it done when he had 60 seats in the Senate and a huge House majority -- now Barry has nothing to negotiate with.

62 seats, Klein. Sixty-two seats.

Posted by: screwjob22 | December 1, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

While I reluctantly agree with these critiques, I still like the guy for trying reason and good will, one more time. After all, when there is really no stance for him on the tax cuts that necessarily results in Republican capitulation because of a fear of a possible political fallout two years hence, what else can he do but try to kindle up that fear as a vague foreshadow by showing them the reasons?

The only move O really has available to him is an uneasy gamble with the loyalties of his broadest constituency. If he lets this little tax game go set, sure, he'll be able to blame the Republicans daily for holding the middle-class hostage to secure another payoff for the wealthy...but he has to hope the public doesn't tire of the harping that he refused to cave on a worthy principle that nonetheless resulted in them paying more.

So show reason and good will now, so you can exhibit vigorous anger and blame later, but make sure you properly rate the cards you have in the present. There's no winning hand available to you just yet, but I'd bet one's just a few months around the corner.

If you don't believe that, then you actually think the Republicans might actually be correct in their reading of the intermediate economic future, and I for one think they're as wrong as they've ever been.

Posted by: dkdenze | December 1, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama is in over his head, and can't even win a negotiation with a bunch of GOP hillbillies! So much for Harvard. He is selling out this country just to get Republican approval that he will never get! There is something wrong with him. The Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire, as they were meant to do. They were never supposed to be permanent. We don't need another 700 billion dollars added to the debt.

Another Democrat needs to challenge Obama in 2012 otherwise we will end up with President Palin.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Dear Sirs,
You will notice that there is no suggestion about raising revenue by taxing oil exports.
No more closed door compromises with Republicans!
As they have pointed out, FDR was a traitor to his class!
That is why FDR beat Hoover in the first place!
Clifford Spencer

Posted by: yankeefan1925 | December 1, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

Obama is just another puppet doing his job at protecting the powerful interests that he represents. He was never for the people and never will be. It's time to see him for what he is; and to judge him solely for his actions. There is no strategy and no poker to be played because he agrees with Republicans, everything else is just a s.h.o.w. He's following the agenda that the puppet master designed for him when he was allowed to run for President and his future fortune is now assured. He's no Truman or JFK and it's time we wake up and smell the coffee; we've been had. This is what happens when you keep electing DLC, Republican-lites to office. Time to revamp the Demagogery Party and construct a real opposition party.

Posted by: Irreverent_inDC | December 1, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the point is that someone is trying to run the country, a country that is on the edge of melt-down, rather than PLAYING GAMES?????

Posted by: stein4 | December 1, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I agree with many commenters. Obama has clearly proven himself a real loser in terms of strategy. I'm coming to the conclusion that nothing short of a primary challenge is needed. I sincerely regret my support for someone who simply refuses to learn that you can't play nice with the Republicans. We need someone who can play tough. I regret supporting Obama over Clinton. Now if we could only convince Hillary to quit and run against Obama in 2012....Obama isn't playing 3-dimensional chess, he can't seem to even get 1-dimension right. The sooner we replace him with a true Democrat the better.

Posted by: mark_cohen | December 1, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

steelers01: Your threats here mean nothing. Talk to your Congressman, I've got no sympathy for you. At all. You chose to be the boss, now act like the boss & stop carping like a child. You're making plenty of money; it's not your right to be wealthy just because you work hard. So does everyone else, including the poor. If you want to trim your workforce, & diminish your business, you go right ahead. In the end, you'll be the one who loses out.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 1, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

No one likes Obama and his cronies policies of waste and spend. It really is very simple. We want the tax code to be the same. Government is bloated beyond belief. It is time for all of us to cinch our belts. By extending the tax cuts, small business will Know where they stand and might hire. This is for the good of our nation but that probably never occurred to these radical progressives.

Posted by: greatgran1 | December 1, 2010 5:56 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the point is that someone is trying to run the country, a country that is on the edge of melt-down, rather than PLAYING GAMES?????

Posted by: stein4 | December 1, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

The problem with our national amnesia is that we forget what cockiness and intransigence landed us. For most of the impatient left, and definitely the right, being tough equals cocky, ignorant and sticking with your wrong positions. Just watch George Bush on his book tour unapologetic for sending thousands of people to their deaths in an illegal war, and bragging about torture. Is this what America wants? Come on! This is not a dictatorship. In a banana republic, the president can command and that is law. We have mature or so-called mature adults in the Senate who from day one decided not to help in governance. Obama campaigned on unity and has stuck to his guns. The reason why you and I and Ezra Klein are unelectable is because we do not understand that the U S of A is a big country and that one person who is elected, is the president of ALL whether or not they voted for him. You may not like his non-belligerant style, but that is the very style that has lowered the tensions that we all experienced just over three years ago. Obama needs not know how to play poker. His intentions are expressed all over: during the campaign, and in his writings. Those that need the attack is not the President. It's the Congressmen that dupe voters to vote against their best interests. Whether he gets a second term or not, he is, in his professorial demeanor teaching America to disagree without being disagreeable; to be a gengtleman statesman who understands that liberals, moderates, conservatives, blue dogs, greens, tea and coffee partyers, all have needs and views that are worthy of attention, like it or not. Heck, give the guy a break! He's doing his darnedest best. It may not be the way you want things to be, but for heaven's sake, stop this cry-baby stuff.
With this post alone, see how every pseudo-liberal wacko is coming out of the woodworks to call him names, psychoanalyze him. I will absolutely positively vote for his second term. Those of you that loath his style, vote for Sara Palin.

Posted by: Agya-aku | December 1, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

"... So I have a hunch that Obama is playing the long game here, mindful of what happened in 1995.

At least that's what I hope!

Posted by: DCSteve1
Hope springs eternal, eh. As a liberal/independent, I would root for Obama IF he was worth rooting for. Now, I just hope that he doesn't run for re-election.

Obama has wasted everyone's time, singlehandedly demoralizing folks such as myself, energizing the Republicans and proving to us all that he's not up to the job. Again, I just hope that he doesn't feel the need to run for re-election and bows out as a one-termer.

If you can't fight for unemployment benefits or against shoving more money into the hands of those who need it least at this point in the country's history-you don't deserve to be President of the U.S.

He hasn't done diddly to help the struggling, not all....nothing....he won't even fight for unemployment amount of crying from his base about their struggles can move this man to action on their behalf....nothing.

I wouldn't take his failure so personally if it weren't for the fact that I was a Hillary supporter and as far as I was concerned, Obama was some figment of Oprah's imagination, I had never heard of him and I thought he should've stepped aside for Clinton. But, then he started winning the primaries and the rest is history. So rather reluctantly, I bought in win he won the nomination. As it turns out people such as myself were right-he is as green as a cucumber.

Talk about buyer's remorse...

Posted by: ArmchairGM | December 1, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I agree with all of this.

Take ARRA. Congress drafts and passes bills, not the President. If his tax cut proposals were really such a bad idea, isn't that the fault of Congressional Democrats for including them in the bills?

In addition, the tax cuts were not of the marginal rate variety Republicans prefer. They were largely credits.

Over 1/3 ($116 billion) of the tax cuts was the Make Work Pay cut Obama campaigned on, and it focuses on giving money to the lower and middle classes. Pure Keynesian "give the money to those most likely to spend it" approach. Given that it was refundable, it was basically spending that was called a tax cut.

Add up all of the various credits, and you have something like 80%+ of ARRA going towards spending or tax expenditures.

The line that Graham had nothing to trade is a bunch of bunk. It's as if a dozen Republican senators were going to sign up for cap and trade for some loan guarantees for nuke plants. No, to nearly all Republican politicians cap and trade is toxic and will not be touched, period. As you note, climate change legislation had hope because it actually had one Republican senator supporting it - and Reid trashed that, not Obama.

"They keep pocketing these gains without giving the White House any credit"

I often see Republicans giving the White House credit when the White House *gives them something they want*.

Paul Ryan started off with "The President has done the right thing today by taking steps to check the explosive growth of government. This is the kind of cooperation we were hoping for when House Republicans advanced this proposal last May, and we're glad to see the President embrace this spending cut."

The Republicans want more, of course, but even Ezra has noted that the freeze barely puts a dent in the deficit problem. As the link notes, the Republicans wanted far more back in May, well before Obama announced the freeze.

I recall conservative support for Obama's Afghan surge (although with some qualms about a withdrawal date):

The idea of negotiation being pushed here is simply wrong. It isn't that one party starts at 10, then other at 0 and they meet at 5, but if one starts at 6 and the other at 10 they meet at 8.

The problem for Obama isn't that he concedes too quickly, it's BANTA.

Cap and trade is toxic to 99% of Republican politicians. What Obama preemptively offered was not enough to get them to move. Maybe they'd do it in exchange for repeal of PPACA, I dunno.

Likewise with PPACA. Starting with HR 676 wasn't going to get you PPACA with a public option - it would probably just make the conservative attack line of "socialism!" far more credible and make the whole effort less popular.

Posted by: justin84 | December 1, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

"I regret supporting Obama over Clinton. "

by mark_cohen

Yeah, me too.

Posted by: ArmchairGM | December 1, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

It's way past time to stop assuming that Obama is a liberal Democrat, and then wonder why he constantly caves. Obama has always advertised himself as a man of the middle, and rarely even labelled himself a Democrat. And when the middle negotiates with the Right, the result is always right of middle.

Posted by: rjoff | December 1, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama is worse than Carter. To negotiate with someone, you do not give away your winning cards. I wish that someone challenges this guy during the primary. In either case, he is a one term president.

Posted by: natarajan2005 | December 1, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I understand those whose comments indicate an admiration for the Prez' non-confrontational style. Perhaps in less stressful & less partisan times, his style would be perceived more positively. But a big part of being Prez is playing politics & projecting the power of the presidency (see LBJ), and while it's not pretty, it's essential for an Administration in order to be effective.

Obama is a great campaigner, but seems to lack the fire necessary to fight back against those who oppose him just for the sake of opposing him. They will ultimately do him in unless he finds the fire & compassion that these difficult times demand. For better or worse, perceptions count.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 1, 2010 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Obama promised transparency in his Presidency. It's quite clear that he's not skilled enough to be a good negotiator, let alone a good President.

I wonder how many Liberals are wishing that Hillary had won the nomination instead??

Posted by: Greg_12 | December 1, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Re: "Obama needs not know how to play poker. His intentions are expressed all over: during the campaign, and in his writings. "

The image he crafted during the campaign and in his books wasn't real. Representation is not reality. His constant capitulation to the GOP--that's reality. I think Obama is content to be the first black president and that's it.

The working class voters in the Democratic primaries voted for Hillary. The elite Hollywood liberals supported Obama, and used the media to trash everybody who supported Hillary. I am tired of these elite liberals. They're fools, and everybody should ignore them. The Democratic Party was better when the working class was in charge of it.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

So many experts here and not one knows enough to get it right. Obama is very mindful that besides being a Black POTUS and a democrat, he is also up against the same political machine that took out some Keneddys and others who sought to end ignorant servitude by the mindless followers of the marxist two "class" system rather than our two party system. Do you blame him for letting the tail wag the dog instead of being shot or having his plane crash?

Posted by: anOPINIONATEDsob | December 1, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Thank U Thank U Thank U. He's become a national, and now international, embarressement. He's painted himself in a corner or surrounded himself- with himself and lost the chess game.

Posted by: crrobin | December 1, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

"I agree with many commenters. Obama has clearly proven himself a real loser in terms of strategy. I'm coming to the conclusion that nothing short of a primary challenge is needed."

I'm not a Republican, but wouldn't this be the Republicans' dream come true: Democrats primary challenge the first black President to a single term!

Any progressives who think Obama doesn't understand strategy and are chomping at the bit to primary challenge him don't understand strategy themselves.

In addition, whoever runs in Obama's place in 2012 will be charged (probably correctly) with being further to the left than than Obama, and will have a really hard time attracting independents.

By the way, doesn't Obama have a 70-80% approval rating with Dems/libs?

Posted by: justin84 | December 1, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so hard to understand that we the people can't stand barely anything this admin does - poker analogies?? Alls you got are tax and spend buttholes ruing this country.
When the checkbook is overspent and your credit card bills are escalating, you can do one of three things; add money to it, stop writing checks, or a combo of both. The dems can't do anything but take our money and add it to the trough. Tell me - where's the warm fuzzy that you would take the added tax revenue and 1) actually use it to pay off the deficit, and 2) you'll stop writing more checks than you have in the checkbook??
Why aren't we having a serious debate about where the tax money would go? You didn't have it for the last... what, 5 years or so?
Grow up and above all, stop treating this entire issue like economics 101. I can't take anything you say with even a modicum of seriousness.
You're all full of it.

Posted by: gary928 | December 1, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

"You're making plenty of money; it's not your right to be wealthy just because you work hard."

That's right nyskinsdiehard, he doesn't have any right to be wealthy through hard work.

That said, his wealth is legitimately obtained and is his property - neither you nor I have any right to a cent of it.

There is no right to wealth for anyone, but there is a right to one's property.

Posted by: justin84 | December 1, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Bull. There's nothing Obama could do to appease the Party of No. They said it from the beginning: they. want. him. to. fail.

there's no "poker" playing, no negotiating. They don't want him, or the Democratic controlled Congress, to pass ANYTHING that would help the American people, because then he might get re-elected, and Republicans are all about power--country be damned.

Witness their disgraceful obstinancy over the tax cuts for the rich. They don't care the billions in debt that will occur by keeping them. But jobless benefits? Suddenly, they're worried about the deficit.

The Republican party is a disgrace, as are the mainstream media pretending it's Obama's fault that Republican won't pass anything.


Posted by: monk4hall | December 1, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

And this is the guy who is negotiating on behalf of the United States with China, Russia, etc ??? Give me a break !!!!

Posted by: dickson_g | December 1, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Short of some kind of miracle ( and you can be sure the Repugs won't let it happen ) Obama will be gone at the end of his first term.

Posted by: buzzsaw1 | December 1, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Let the tax cuts expire. After the first pay check when increased taxes appear, the Republicans won't be blamed. "Tax and spend" is the ideology and policy of Demo governance. The Demos are self destructing. Let them.

Posted by: ngonzalestito1 | December 1, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Before it's too late:

President Obama : Please WAKE UP !

Mr. Obama is a brilliant, articulate, eloquent, compassionate President who is certainly able to give speeches that inspire.

But he is also breathtakingly stubborn.

He stubbornly refuses to present a tougher challenge to the lying GOP / T Party lapdogs who are now shouting from the rooftops that they want to cripple America, as long as Mr. Obama is the President... And, after Mr. Obama is gone, they WOULD finish destroying this country competely, gutting it like a fish.

The lying GOP / T Party lapdogs understand something that President Obama does not: ... Speak to the primal instincts, by portraying yourself as strong and decisive and powerful, and most people, who are operating more on that primal level than on an intellectual level, will follow.

When these vile people shout from the rooftops their intention to paralyze the country and defeat the President, THEY KNOW that their 'base' of the intellectually challenged, who spend more time thinking on a primal level, will not only respond, they will grow in numbers.

Essentially the lying, double-talking GOP / T Party lapdogs are holding the entire country hostage, much as domestic terrorists might.

And what does Mr. Obama do?

He says, " Let's compromise ".

Compromise ??? With whom ?? ... With the lying GOP / T Party lapdogs who have proven beyond any doubt, over and over and over again, that they will tell ANY lie and twist any truth to politically destroy the President AND terrorize the American people ?

... With the lying, duplicitous GOP / T Party lapdogs who would almost undoubtedly continue the wrecking job begun during Reagan / Bush and hyped up as if on steroids under Bush / Cheney ??

"Compromise" with those who can then even more heavily favor the ruthless outsourcers who apparently see absolutely no incentive to 'patriotic' behavior whatsoever, and would without hesitation finish off this country completely and forever ??

I will vote for Mr. Obama in '12, as I did on '08 ---- but only if a real fighter with some real backbone doesn't show up.

With every passing day, this fine, brilliant President is more and more rapidly losing support because he stubbornly refuses to recognize that most people want STRENGTH, much more than they want intelligence or wisdom ...or even 'compromise'.

Posted by: StevenK3 | December 1, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

We know the Republicans are a disgrace and that their policies and bogus wars have run up the debt and ruined the economy. We elected Obama to END these policies. He should let the Bush tax cuts expire. All of them. Then pass a tax cut for the middle class and let the GOP either join him or vote against it. That would put the GOP in a quandary. Instead he just gives in to everything they want.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Why negotiate with the Democrats. When offered the opportunity to extend the Bush tax cuts, OB and the Democrats in Congress refuse to give in and accept the offer. Let the tax cuts expire and when the first checks are issued under the old tax rates, the people won't blame the Republicans. The will see the increased withholding and they will look immediately to the Democrats as the cause of their discomfort. The problem is simple, the Democrats are self destructing. Let them.

Posted by: ngonzalestito1 | December 1, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Why negotiate with the Democrats. When offered the opportunity to extend the Bush tax cuts, OB and the Democrats in Congress refuse to give in and accept the offer. Let the tax cuts expire and when the first checks are issued under the old tax rates, the people won't blame the Republicans. The will see the increased withholding and they will look immediately to the Democrats as the cause of their discomfort. The problem is simple, the Democrats are self destructing. Let them.

Posted by: ngonzalestito1 | December 1, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Don't forget the $85 billion in unnecessary funding for the nuclear weapons complex he has now promised to get the New START treaty ratified--a treaty that is modest and should be considered noncontroversial. Now he may have to add tax cuts for the rich on top of that just to get a vote. I talked to many congressional staffers who insisted that this was a smart strategy and would isolate Jon Kyl, and I am very interested to hear what their thinking is now that Kyl has more leverage than he ever should and they are in a race to get it through in the lame duck.

Posted by: griffinrebecca | December 1, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Re: "When offered the opportunity to extend the Bush tax cuts, OB and the Democrats in Congress refuse to give in and accept the offer."

They don't have to accept a two faced offer from a GOP Congress that isn't even in power. Obama needs to let the Bush tax cuts expire and if the right wing get angry--so be it. Obama's job is to do what's best for the country.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

Judging from the comments here, Mr. Klein's views are just giving comfort to idiots. Pray tell, sir, how do you ignore what has been done by the Obama administration while zealots like the ones posting here were screaming that he is ruining the country. Governing is affected by facts on the ground that change. You can't cherry pick from 20+ years ago. And you can't use an a mouthpiece from the Clinton Whitehouse to tell us how to play poker.

Posted by: richarddyoung | December 1, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

President Obama and the Republicans can kill two birds with one stone. The Republicans want a $700 billion tax break for the “small businesses” that they say comprise the top 2% of income earners. The President’s country has a deficit of cash with which to finance the tax break Republicans want, but the President’s country does have a surplus of 15,000,000 or more unemployed workers. Why not give those Republican “small businesses” not a $700 billion cash tax break, but “payment in kind” in the form an enlarged payroll staff nationwide of 5,000,000 to 10,000,000 more workers entirely financed by a government payroll tax holiday to employers amounting to an equivalent of $700 billion in payroll tax credits over a number of years? (See Senator Pete Domenici’s Bipartisan Policy Center Recommendations.) In that way the top 2% who comprise the “small businesses” won’t be shortchanged out of their $700 billion, and the President’s country will take a giant step forward, getting the unemployment rate down to 6% or less. One drawback, however, is that the “small businesses” won’t be “paid in a kind” that they can easily take out of the country. Another drawback is that the President might appear to have a bigger “WIN” than the Republicans from such a “compromise”, even though the “small businesses” will be crying all the way to the bank, being given the use of a free workforce. But isn’t it high time for 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 unemployed American workers to finally have their own “WIN” out of all this Washington melodrama?

Posted by: 51STEPS | December 1, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post opened up a new Conservative blog today - by Jennifer Rubin

Don't forget to take a look and comment

Posted by: RainForestRising | December 1, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

Why not let the tax cuts expire the way that they were intended to. Then, if there is a way to come up with a plan to put into place other tax policy that amounts to tax cuts for some or even all, do that. Of course, since everyone is worried about increasing the deficit any new tax policy would need to be deficit neutral. Without other sources of revenue or decreases in spending, extending the Bush tax cuts for the middle class will add $3-trillion to the deficit and tax cuts for the rich will another $1-trillion. It seems as if the government is using play money because it is not money that they have or will have unless they borrow it from the Chinese. It seems like some kind sick charade.

Posted by: MickyD1 | December 1, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama is in way over his head. He does not know how to negotiate. He has never had a job that required an Outcome. He has had very little legislative experience and has produced no legislation so he does not know how to deal with the Republicans.

We elected a complete novice with no expertise in anything. Actually this may be the first real job he ever had...his "law" practice was not substantial and he was never a law professor.

So we cannot expect much.

Posted by: jsands2 | December 1, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

There are two Obama's: "Campaign Obama" and "President Obama." The majority of us voted for Campaign Obama because he told us what we wanted to hear AND backed it up with logic we understood. "To continue the same action and expect a different result is the definition of insanity." "We are creating the enemy we are fighting." "We can not drill or way out. We must invest in alternative technology." "Democracy can't work in secrecy."
However, President Obama expanded the war in the Middle East,continued most of Bush policies from the Patriot Act to TARP, did not close Guantanamo, approved offshore drilling off the East Coast until the BP incident and now he's supporting nuclear power, an expensive, inefficient source of energy. He refuses to investigate missing billions in Iraq, torture or Blackwater but goes after WikiLeaks for embarrassing our foriegn service. If that wasn't enough, when queried if the President thought he might be losing support because he wasn't delivering on his promises, his press secretary ridiculed the Left as being unable to count.
We believed "Campaign Obama" would be our standard bearer we could rally around and fight for. But nobody follows a weak leader into battle. President Obama answers critics with "It's complicated." and "It takes time." Meanwhile the Republicans who don't think it's complicated take the time to push President Obama into a corner and demand he "Change" their way - and he does.

I predict, unless he can bring "Campaign Obama" out from hiding, he will be a one term President with the legacy, "Never has a President received such a large and well defined mandate and done so little with it."

Posted by: thestoryplease | December 1, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul.... IQ 140+
Rand Paul... probably in the 160 club.

both, accomplished geniuses.

one takes on high risk pregnancies....

the other has mastered the biology and physics of the optic system.

They are why congress effectively banned doctors from congress.

They don't want to compete with the superior brain power.

Posted by: docwhocuts | December 1, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Obama is committed to doing what is right, not what he needs to do. Bilateral programs are fine if the other Party is willing to go along, but for 2 years Obama has acted as if the Republicans, not the Democrats control Congress and the White House. Like many other Obama supports (on most, not all things), I'm fed up.

Now he's going belly up on the Bush tax cuts. Disgusting. He fight back. If the Republicans want to bring the nation down yet again, let them. Let the government go unfunded, let the tax cuts expire, let unemployment support wither, and call the Republicans on it: Folks, this is what you will get with Republicans in charge; the wealthy will still have their money while tens of millions of families will suffer.

Republicans got this nation into this mess and, dissatisfied that they didn't destroy the country entirely, want to have another go at it. Let them and if the American populace doesn't get it, too bad.

Posted by: joachim1 | December 1, 2010 8:32 PM | Report abuse

retiredspook -
I agree there is little in the way of tax cuts, although some, for the middle class. But you are omitting credits that were new for 2009 that did benefit many of us who work and have high educational expenses for our children. Also, it was possible last year to take your mortgage interest even if you didn't have a higher standard deduction. These are a few of the new "cuts" I'm aware of and they were very helpful to me.

Posted by: lexmom | December 1, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

I am a Democrat who thinks the problem isn't Obama's negotiation skills and its not the GOP, its the Democrats in Congress. You cannot both believe that the GOP are complete obstructionists and that if only Obama had negotiated better they would have voted for the stimulus or health care reform or cap and trade, etc. You also cannot both believe that he is a poor negotiator and that he accomplished major legislation such as the stimulus, health care reform and finanacial reform. Its not the GOP he has been negotiating with, its the ConservaDems who believe that nothing should be done without GOP votes he has been negotiating with. To Obama, bipartisanship simply meant an openness to ideas whichever party they might come from and to have legislation consist of the best policy ideas. He thought this would be enough to satisfy conservaDems, but there he was wrong. Obama ended up being stuck between ConservaDems who wouldn't stand up for him against outrageous GOP attacks and leftDems who defended Obama against the GOP attacks(which these leftDems also recognized as attacks against a new America symbolized by Obama and feared by the GOP, which ConservaDems never understood) and were then disappointed that Obama was not more to the left in his policy, which they wrongly attribute to his being a capitulator and poor negotiator. In fact, he's just not a leftist. Obama's problem is that the GOP recognized that if they refused to work with him, he would be left having to get everything done with Dem votes and that the Dems wouldnt be up to the task. The greatest harm to the public's view of health care reform came from Dem Ben Nelson's Cornhusker Kickback. On the stimulus, if Obama had said I'll include tax cuts if you vote for it, the GOP would have done two things. 1)They would still have said no votes and 2) they would have said that Dems only want to increase spending and never cut taxes. Obama included the tax cuts because he thought they were a good idea and it showed that Dems could favor good tax cuts on their merits, not because they were forced to accept them by the GOP. GOP votes were not required to pass new middle class tax cuts. Just as the Bush tax cuts were passed through reconciliation, the Dems could have passed new Obama tax cuts the same way, by a simple majority vote, but wouldnt do it. Dems could also have used reconciliation to pass more stimulus, but becuase House Dems didnt want to vote for a FY2011 budget resolution with a big deficit, it couldnt happen. The GOP recognized after 2008 that there was a new America symbolized by Obama and they were in danger of being in the minority for a long time but that they were a united and angry minority that might be able to make the public angry at a democratic Congress seen as not making the economy better. What Obama should do now that he is stuck between the nihilist GOP and feckless Dems in Congress must await another comment as I have reached the character limit.

Posted by: gregspolitics | December 1, 2010 8:40 PM | Report abuse

Re: "Ron Paul.... IQ 140+
Rand Paul... probably in the 160 club.
both, accomplished geniuses"

There is nothing genius about Rand Paul. He's a Confederate nut whose campaign workers stomp on women's heads. We don't want Confederate ideology in this country. You lost the Civil War. The Confederacy is the only failed state in the western hemisphere. We should outlaw the flying of the Confederate flag because it's a flag of treason. I wouldn't use that rag to wash my car.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

"Bull. There's nothing Obama could do to appease the Party of No. They said it from the beginning: they. want. him. to. fail."

I don't want him to fail. I want him to get the hell away from the White House and never come back.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 1, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

sorry sunnyday.... that's how they're listed in the news letter.

don't get the news letter?

oh... you're not invited to the discussion.

Posted by: docwhocuts | December 1, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder how many Liberals are wishing that Hillary had won the nomination instead??"

Probably most of them. But most liberals are really stupid so they bought into hope and change and all that jazz.

Only about 23% of the country self-identifies as liberal. Nobody gives a damn about those people, and nobody should.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 1, 2010 8:50 PM | Report abuse

The only issue Republicans seem to really care about is giving tax breaks to the extremely wealthy. The American people seem a little slow to catch on and Democrats, including Obama, have not done a good job of clearing the fog. Hence, the US continues to stumble. Ultimately we have no one to blame other than ourselves.

Posted by: roadman67 | December 1, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

As liberal Democrats why don't we just admit it--it's time to dump Obama. Let's pick a true and tough progressive and start working on getting him or her nominated in 2012.

Posted by: denisob | December 1, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree with those who consider Obama a big disappointment. We need someone to run against him in the primaries -- someone who will stand up for the middle class. But that isn't Hillary. She and her husband worked overtime to sell the middle class down the river. We need a genuine progressive. How about it, Senator Feingold?

Posted by: AdrianMole | December 1, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Re: "Only about 23% of the country self-identifies as liberal. Nobody gives a damn about those people, and nobody should."

That's why we have a Democratic president who won with 53% of the vote. The last GOP President had to have his brother and his Daddy's Supreme court steal the election for him. Then this spoiled, underachieving rich kid started two wars and ruined the global economy. And some dummies are lining up to buy his book! A book that he didn't even write himself because he lacks the ability to speak and write in complete sentences! They say a sucker is born every minute and that sucker is called a conservative.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"The only issue Republicans seem to really care about is giving tax breaks to the extremely wealthy. The American people seem a little slow to catch on and Democrats, including Obama, have not done a good job of clearing the fog. Hence, the US continues to stumble. Ultimately we have no one to blame other than ourselves."

Yep, that's why the US became a global superpower and an economic powerhouse after we kicked out Lyndon Johnson and the last batch of liberals.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 1, 2010 9:07 PM | Report abuse

To the democrats-Let the Republican game of setting up the country to go broke and try to get back to the 1880's proceed. Do not vote on the Bush stuff this year. Let it go.

Try to get Government out of our bedrooms,sex- life, wombs and family decisions about life and death.
All life is of value-no more killing folk or putting them in jail for not talking to the congressional hypocrites. People are not property and you have no right to legislate who they love,marry ,have children with or how they wish to leave this world. Death and taxes are the absolute-deal with it. Corporations are not persons and you or anyone can analyze any human from their pictures or what someone writes for them.
KNOW THY SELF. Perform with integrity that you have committed to do and don't play cards.

Posted by: grobinso1 | December 1, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

"That's why we have a Democratic president who won with 53% of the vote. The last GOP President had to have his brother and his Daddy's Supreme court steal the election for him. Then this spoiled, underachieving rich kid started two wars and ruined the global economy."

There's nothing more amusing that watching someone call a 2 term president an underachiever. Don't worry your guy will only be a 1 term president.

That book is a bestseller and a great read.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 1, 2010 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Krazen 1211: After Johnson left office real wages began to decline. The decline of the working class began in the early 1970s under Tricky Dick Nixon. Republicans wreck the economy whenever they take office, and this has been the case since President Hoover (R) and the Great Depression. 24 hour propaganda on TV and radio (and election theft) is the only way they can win elections now. They can't win unless the truth is suppressed and the facts are distorted.

Propaganda is very powerful.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

On the tax cuts, Obama should precisely define the problem and the solution. He believes in permanent tax cuts for the middle class. The GOP says they do too so he should say that any compromise should obviously include permanent middle class tax cuts. Where they differ is that he thinks the tax rates for the top 2% should return to what they were during the Clinton years of strong economic growth. The GOP thinks they too should receive permanent tax cuts. Thus, the compromise is to extend them temporarily through the next presidential election and let the voters decide which view should prevail as a victory for him would mean no further tax cuts for that top 2% which he would always veto and a GOP victory would presumably mean tax cuts for that top 2% signed into law by a GOP president. He is willing to trust the voters and so should the GOP. He will veto a permanent extension of all tax cuts which he believes is fiscally irresponsible and he will veto a merely temporary extension of all tax cuts as that is no compromise where both sides say they believe in permanent middle class tax cuts and, thus, is nothing more than an attempt to make permanent middle class tax cuts hostage to tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%. Additionally, since the wealthiest 2% are getting a temporary extension of lower tax rates, then an extension of unemployment benefits should also be included.
He must further explain that this whole issue exists only because the GOP made the tax cuts expire by law at the end of this year and if they do so expire it will be because of the GOP now.

Posted by: gregspolitics | December 1, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Re: "There's nothing more amusing that watching someone call a 2 term president an underachiever."

Stealing an election after being drunk until age forty is not an achievement.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

"After Johnson left office real wages began to decline. The decline of the working class began in the early 1970s under Tricky Dick Nixon. Republicans wreck the economy whenever they take office, and this has been the case since President Hoover (R) and the Great Depression. 24 hour propaganda on TV and radio (and election theft) is the only way they can win elections now. They can't win unless the truth is suppressed and the facts are distorted.

Propaganda is very powerful."

The US economy continued to grow, and grow, and grow far faster than the european crapholes that Obama wants to turn us into.

You're right, propaganda is powerful. They've managed to convince the anti-war idiot left that Andrew Jackson, James Polk, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson are somehow not members of the party of war for our nation's entire history. Gotta say, ingenious how they did it.

You got 2 bit hacks like Ted Kennedy who cheered his brother's adventures in Vietnam back in 1964.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 1, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

"Stealing an election after being drunk until age forty is not an achievement."

Natural whining crap ignorant of history. 271 electoral votes is a win, sorry.

Posted by: krazen1211 | December 1, 2010 9:24 PM | Report abuse

It is NOT poker.

It's called governing which in a democratic country requires compromise.

After the 2008 election Obama refused to compromise. 3 days after taking office, his reply to Republican suggestions was 'I won'

Before the 2010 election, all the poles suggested large wins for Republicans, it was obvious that Obama was going to have to compromise with Republicans.

His response? Tell them they 'gotta sit in the back.' Publicly declare they are ENEMIES that should be punished.

These are people that he knew he was going to be forced to work with.

It is not poker. It is governoring. He is not good at governing!

Posted by: TECWRITE | December 1, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Why are we exporting gas and oil?

Why don't corporations pay taxes?

There are some good ideas expressed here. More than on many other sites. Some are just stupid. Some are just hate. Some really care about this country.

Republicans have said their #1 priority is for Obama to fail, aka Rove strategy. How low can the Republicans take the US and the world down for their greed.

Why has no one been held accountable for all the Haliburton stealing?

I think the best I have heard here is to let the Republicans have their way, get credit for it, and stop blaming Obama and Democrats. The world gets it. Why can't Americans see the real story? Too much TV and football?

Posted by: Jo5311 | December 1, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

I think a big reason why Obama gives in before negotiations is HE'S ALWAYS SCARED (OFTEN OVERLY) OF LOOKING TOO LIBERAL. And this was obvious from the start of the primaries, but too many people vote based on the cover not the book, not on their policies, not on what they'll actually do that will greatly affect hundreds of millions.

He doesn't start with a liberal plan as an initial negotiating point because he's always scared of proposing anything that looks too liberal.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | December 1, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Really, Ezra... You should put the crack pipe down. Though, when I read comments like yours these days, it does put a bit of a bounce in my stride, if you will.

You have it nailed. Here is this post partisan Woodrow Wilson like fellow in the White House forgetfully continuing to reach across the aisle and giving away his bargaining chips willy-nilly.

Lord, if Obama wasn't such a professorial type, he would win more from the nasty, capitalistic Republicans. Its such a contrast to the "other" Obama. You know. The one who jammed through health care, the non-stimulating stimulus, and financial reform over the objections of the GOP and the American people. The one who tried to get cap and trade passed over these same objections. You get my point.

Over the next few years, you have a daunting task ahead of you, and I need to do my best to encourage you, if for no other reason than the chuckles you provide. It is great fun to watch tortuously weaved stories that make no sense whatsoever to the people you so smugly assume can be convinced through your work...

People read Ezra Klein's columns for three reasons. First and foremost I assume is that are very funny indeed. Second, because people just naturally like to make fun of people like Ezra, though I would hope we can all maintain some grace in that. Third, there are actually a few who read Ezra's column, because they too share his progressive views and would be cheerleaders. I would also extend a thanks to these poor folks as well as Ezra, as their comments can be nearly as entertaining as Ezra's own...

Posted by: gmonsen | December 1, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

And he's also always scared of not looking new age post partisan fairy land, so he's got to put out the highly compromised plan first because he's scared to ever put out one that's not highly compromised, otherwise he might not look new age fairyland compromisy.

Again should have been obvious in the primaries, but so many voters cared more about whose personality was better or who gave them the heebie-jeebies when they spoke than what they would actually do that would greatly affect hundreds of millions.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | December 1, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

This is all true, but, really, I understand where Obama is coming from. He comes from a place of a worthy, dare I say patriotic perspective: where you believe that if everyone just adopted the "reasonable" position, and people stopped "playing games" all would be well. And to prove it, he's willing to walk in and prove that he's the most reasonable guy in the room. I get it: it comes from being good at playing by rules, by always looking at all the evidence and deciding on the best course of action and following that. From having little interest in playing socio-political games, either with your friends or in the workplace. It comes from a perspective of working with people where you can take the attitude of telling someone, "I'm smart, you're smart, let's dispense with the games and just solve the problem." I daresay Obama's big mistake is his naive belief that Americans are much better people than they actually are.

I totally understand because I grew up like that guy. And Obama thought he could sweep away the stupidity and just work on things as if everyone was what he thought was "grown up." But it doesn't work like that, and I don't think he gets it. Politics is, ultimately, about power, and they're fights in which someone wins and someone loses. I appreciate it if Obama doesn't want to play that game, but that's not what the job requires right now.

Posted by: tyromania | December 1, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Community ORganizers think different than the rest of us.

Posted by: bflat879 | December 1, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Reading the comments make me realize that class warfare thrives in the USA. Get those rich guys. Give "em" hell. Tax them to the limit. Get even for their success. Protect the poor. Gosh, Karl Marx lives. Sounds like rapture to the progressives run by billionaire Soros. He won't be paying more because like all the other rich guys he will squirrel his money beyond the reach of the taxman....

Posted by: ngonzalestito1 | December 1, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

I guess I'm crazy but I don't want the President to play "games" with the Republicans. I expect the people in Washington to care more about what is best for the country and not what will allow their party to win in 2012.

Posted by: vintagejulie | December 1, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I also now realize that all the crazy right wingers who would write rants to the letter to the editor section of my local newspapers when I was growing up have all migrated to online newspaper comments sections.

Posted by: tyromania | December 1, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Whenever anybody suggests that the rich pay their fair share of taxes somebody comes up with the bogus charge of "class warfare." You know what? The banks and the Wall St crooks have been waging war on the poor and middle class. The poor and middle class had to bail them out! Now it's time for the banks and Wall St. to pay their fair share of taxes. Their scam is over.

Posted by: sunnyday1 | December 1, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

Two things. First, Obama it seems is egocentric and he could have the best advisers in the history of government and it wouldn't matter because he won't listen. Second, in the first two years it looked like he thought was dealing from almost absolute power. Now even Obama must admit that he will be sharing power for the next two years but it still doesn't matter because he won't give his advisers his ear and he's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is.

Posted by: Auburninbp | December 2, 2010 1:28 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, Oh Ezra, There you go again, making a living inventing apologies for this failed President. He was not competent to be President and the country is paying the price for his ineptitude.

Leadership is about competence in vision and the strategy to get there. Obama may have the vision (not that this has been apparent in a coherent way), he does not have the skill set at a competent level to lead.

You seem to place much on Pres. Obama's style (or perhaps you are so uselessly partisan) that all you can do is be a cheerleader.

Posted by: dennikenni | December 2, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

It is really difficult to read this article with its premise that President Obama is a bi-partisan President who is not given any credit for being one.

This is the "most liberal senator". This is the same man who called the Republicans the "enemy" of certain ethnic groups in order to gain votes for his minions; this is the same man who said that Republicans could get in the vehicle but had to ride in the back seat.

THAT is bi-partisan?

Sorry, but this is most partisan President in my lifetime.

Posted by: LMW6 | December 2, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I suspect that most of the "liberals" who are whining about Obama are ex-Hillary supporters who have never gotten over their loss. If Hillary herself has gotten over it why can't they? To suggest that Hillary would be doing better considering how much the Republicans (especially the conservatives) hate her is absurd. Not that Hillary wouldn't do a decent job. But neither has Obama.

If you stopped whining for a second you might have noticed that the team of Obama with Pelosi's help have passed more progressive legislation than anybody in two years, including Democratic star FDR and even Bill Clinton.

Even if what you're whining about is true, who is the alternative who could get a progressive agenda passed in the Congress? Kucinich? If you keep up this whining you will set the stage for America's ultimate nightmare: Sarah Palin. She is laughing all the way to the bank and basks in the glory of liberals and conservatives alike piling on Obama.

Congratulations, "liberals". You are paving the way for another ultra-right wing rennaisance. Now who's incompetent?

Posted by: Calvet | December 2, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"I suspect that most of the "liberals" who are whining about Obama are ex-Hillary supporters who have never gotten over their loss."--Calvet

Au contraire, Monsieur. I'm pretty sure most of us are very disappointed Obamians. And are you really comparing the performance of this Congress favorably to the accomplishments of FDR in his first hundred days?

Posted by: henderstock | December 2, 2010 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I’ve heard that President Obama likes to play basketball - even that he’s quite good at it - but how can he ( and we, the people ) win if he insists on passing off the ball to his opponents, and never tries to block their shots? I wouldn't be surprised if he got that fat lip from a team mate who disapproved of his "throwing the game."

Bipartisanship is fine when both sides show a willingness to compromise and cooperate, but until that happens, we need to keep the ball in the Democratic court. A system tilted heavily to the right will not be effectively balanced by standing in the middle. A heavy, decisive weight must be placed on the left ( perhaps in the form of a primary challenger ) before it is too late.

I feel that the president’s dalliance “in the interest of fairness” puts citizens of the middle and poor classes behind the Eight Ball, and gives the moneyed corporate interests further advantage. We voted for Mr. Obama and a Democratic Congress in order to change the priorities of this nation, and we are more interested in results than in “playing fair” with those who continue to drain our resources and test our patience.

Posted by: mungmung | December 2, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company