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Posted at 12:00 AM ET, 12/ 9/2010

Palin comparison

By Tom Toles

Poker Face
Everybody has decided that Obama can't play poker very well. He folds on every hand! He folds if his opponent antes! He folds even before he has been dealt all his cards! This may or may not be true. I seem to remember a lot of people telling him it was time to fold on health care.

I did a cartoon once showing two people facing off across a game table, except only one was playing poker. The other was playing chess. Mayhem and hilarity! But I think some of that is going on now. Obama "tipped his hand" (I wasn't an English major for nothing -- or maybe I was) when he said that he is playing a "long game" where tactical feints and retreats advance the ball. (Metaphor police: come help!) He has a North Star to guide him. (Okay, the metaphor has now completely escaped the barn. I surrender. I'm FOLDING! My tent!!!)

Anyway, I'm still on board (chessboard) and betting (poker) on Obama, and I question the collective wisdom on this one, because as little poker as I have played, I've learned one thing: the rest of you aren't very good at it, either. --Tom Toles


By Tom Toles  | December 9, 2010; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  GOP  
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Health care reform, or any other attempts to cut medical costs or improve the system, can go only so far, if health insurance companies don't pay their bills for the medical care they are supposed to insure. Physicians are put in the position of having to increase fees or reduce care, if many of their bills go unpaid by carriers, forcing doctors to find the money or savings elsewhere. That's why offshore medical billing services can help, not hurt, the U.S. economy and the U.S. health care system. Offshore collection services in India, for example, efficiently take on the carriers and make them pay the legitimate claims that they so often try to avoid paying. That's health care reform you can believe in!

James P. John
Medical Billing Manager

Posted by: jameg | December 15, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

Health care reform, or any other attempts to cut medical costs or improve the system, can go only so far, if health insurance companies don't pay their bills for the medical care they are supposed to insure. Physicians are put in the position of having to increase fees or reduce care, if many of their bills go unpaid by carriers, forcing doctors to find the money or savings elsewhere. That's why offshore medical billing services can help, not hurt, the U.S. economy and the U.S. health care system. Offshore collection services in India, for example, efficiently take on the carriers and make them pay the legitimate claims that they so often try to avoid paying. That's health care reform you can believe in!

James P. John
Medical Billing Manager

Posted by: jameg | December 15, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Again, buys and girls, the reason Obama compromised with the Republicans is that the Democrats, in spite of having the votes to support his excellent ideas for the last two years... have not done so.

Obama did not "cave" by himself. Obama, with little support from where support should have been huge, achieved "something."

What would the Democrats have achieved for the last two years under a McCain-Palin administration? Roughly what the Democrats achieved during the Bush administration, most likely: not much.

Democrats without serious support from an Obama presidency: not much. Obama without serious support from a Democratic congress: not as much as some of us would like, but a lot more than nothing.

What, should Obama be castigated for NOT changing the tax sructure, NOT closing Gitmo, NOT ending the wars, NOT etc. IN SPITE OF not having support from his OWN party? The man can't do it alone, folks.

When the rest of the Democrats start growing spines, and we don't seem to be able to count on that happening suddenly between now and when the next congress is seated, THEN they will have the right to throw rocks at Obama for getting what he can get WITHOUT their support.

Obama should have been negotiating from a position of strength for the last two years but, IMO, the congressional Democrats did not do their jobs.


Posted by: jonroesler | December 9, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

As someone who sits VERY close to the soon to be unemployed I applaud his (our president's) courage to stand up to people like you(and you know who you are), who like to play the political games....real life is not a can talk your self-righteous talk all you want and gamble with other's lives but...when the 'bomb' falls down on your head or those you care about you won't run so freely at the mouth.
Two more years of the current tax system are not going to kill anyone....being unemployed because our industrial nation is collapsing all around us and is soon to be no more can kill. Period.

We are talking not just about the person laid off but entire families! Their futures, their children's futures! You want to talk 'trickle down'? Think of the 'trickle down' these families have to deal with.

What is the personal impact the current tax proposal will have on any of you? Nothing!!! You will see the numbers but will not feel the pain.
Plants are continuing to close their doors permanently putting people out of work and all you can talk about is Palin??? Give me a break...
I'm sure those who are facing the end of their unemployment benefits and those soon to be standing in that line will remember how the President made sacrifices for them and that IS what he is doing and he is not 'happy' about the 'deal' either!

Posted by: bertzel | December 9, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to think that Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats have a real game plan, but it's not clear that they do. I think Obama gave up far more than he got in his tax cut extension/unemployment extension deal. The Republicans did as they normally do: they engaged in the usual borrow and spend policies. The Republicans allowed the extension of unemployment benefits, but they still don't want to increase taxes on those who CAN afford higher taxes to pay for unemployment benefits. Moreover, there are other tax reduction schemes in this agreement. So the Republicans are hypocrites as usual, not bothering to take even a modest step towards deficit reduction when their recent campaign rhetoric was very much about the horrors of deficits. Now they will turn around and blame Obama completely for the continuing very large budget deficits. Very predictable. Maybe--just maybe--Obama got the best deal he could on this, and believes he'll be able to move on to DADT and the New START Treaty. I'd be thrilled if the Republicans would even expose themselves for what they are, honestly and for once, and allow DADT and New START to come to and up or down vote in Congress. But I believe that they will try to prevent these policies from coming to ANY vote.

I will still support Obama for POTUS in the next election. Unless the Democrats come up with a better candidate. The GOP has nothing. Palin? Give me a break!

Posted by: ptgrunner | December 9, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry Tom, this is one time I don't agree with you. Holding the threat of a Palin Presidency over the heads of disguntled, disappointed and disgusted Progressives is not a valid reason to become an Obama Bobblehead. To continue to bob your head up and down with every display of his apparent lack of leadership and negotiating skills is only enambling the president to continue down this path of failure. Unless you are completely overjoyed with this deal and think it is the best of all possible deals that could ever be made then I say you have a duty to yourself, a duty to Progressives, a duty to the President and a duty to your country to let Obama know how you really feel. Ralling around the President no matter what he does I thought was more a trait of Republicans than of Democrats. This whole two party system of holding your supporters hostage because the 'other guy' is worse is what has brought our current state of poiltics to its incredible levels of mendacity. Supporting Obama because you don't want Palin as the next President is wrong. If you are casting your vote in order to keep theother candidate from being elected you are working against your own self interests. And frankly the reason why in 2008 I donated time and money to political campaign for the first time in my life was because I thought Obama was a candidate to vote for instead of voting to keep the other one out. That is until Obama has proven to be an elephant in sheep's clothing and has shown very few examples of leadership or negotiating skills. Shoot I would be happy if only 1/10 of Candidate Obama showed up under his presidency!

As of right now I will not vote for the man in 2012 and the threat of a Palin presidency be damn. I will support a primary challenger and if that fails and Obama has continued down this path of Appeasement King I will look at Third Party candidates. That's not to say that Obama can't win back my vote but he has a steep road to clinb to do so. But how stupid is it that a President is having to win back his base after he has already lost the independents? A way he could start is over the Christmas holidays he needs to buy "Negotiating For Dummies" and read Chapter 1: "Don't Tell Your Opponent What All You're Willing to Give Up Before You Sit Down At the Table" and then read it again and agian. Because frankly your fellow editorial cartoonist Nick Anderson got it right showing a naked Obama with three chips in his hand, bragging about his card playing skills while the Republican Elephant with all the chips is laughing his head off.

Posted by: dre7861 | December 9, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

It may be wrong to expect that Obama could have won this tax relief battle - or the public option battle. But it is not wrong to expect Obama to take every opportunity to express that Democrats want to remedy the problems caused when some people have far to much luxury while many, many more are suffering. If it considered is "too liberal" to even articulate this position, then Palin and her ilk will continue to hold the hearts and minds of the downtrodden public.

Obama expresses far more concern for the dignity of his opponents than he does for the indignity that their actions impose on decent, hard-working citizens. It is commendable that Obama does not wish to stoop to the abusive rhetoric of rightwing republicans. However, if he cannot express, plainly and publicly, that these laws hurt people, then he does not believe it. And shame on him.

Posted by: kilroy2 | December 9, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Let me be clear - I volunteered for Obama, I donated to his campaign and observed elections in my local district. I think he's an intelligent, well-spoken and honorable man - BUT the reason that we were crushed in November was because he's acting like a Republican.
Posted by: UNLISTED

My Comment...
I agree with your statement about President Obama.
He is also a square peg in a round hole.
He would be a great president if we had a congress that was united in their effort to support the will of the people and an efficient, just and equitable government as is required for a quality nation.
The Republican Party are the ones who are pityful and hopeless. They are clueless sheep to the slaughter. If the agenda of the Republican Party succeeds, it will be the Republicans who will be responsible for more death and destruction due to ignorance and they, as well as us will suffer the consequences. It rains on the just as well as the unjust.
The battle cries of the Republicans are, "stick it to the poor, turn the working people in wageslaves and shut the government down. The chaos will be deafening.
“United we stand, divided we fall”.

The two party systems is grid locking our government.

My solution to the problem “divided we fall” and fail (hopefully, the best possible solution) is to include in the swear-in to office of politicians is that politicians swear to no longer have party affiliation while they are in office other than for election and that they owed their allegiance to the nation not a political party. The two party systems is grid locking our government.

Posted by: OckamsRazor | December 9, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Give me a break. Who else are progressives going to vote for?

Obama compromised. The GOP compromised. Welcome to democracy.

Posted by: scott3 | December 9, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

billybeer6, nobody cared about Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars except for fans of Dancing With the Stars. "The Left" certainly wasn't "enraged." The only ones that made something about it, in fact, was some conservative bloggers and the media that reported on said conservative bloggers. It was a completely manufactured "controversy."

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | December 9, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Moderation does not equate to cutting the baby in half. Because unlike in the parable, here both sides will stand back and let the baby die. Mr. Obama's compulsion to "compromise" is slavish, not wise.

Posted by: Itzajob | December 9, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Obama might have scored some points for himself with this compromise (people will believe that he really cared about hardship from expiring middle-class tax cuts and unemployment benefits), but the points will not translate into votes for him come 2012. The group of reluctant 2008 voters screaming buyers' remorse have already left in 2010 and will never return no matter how much Obama will do for them. Many of the liberals now believe they have no reason to go to vote (unless Palin is the opponent). Against a decent GOP candidate, just black votes and some other Democratic and independent votes will not be enough. The results will mirror the 2010 results. I think Obama has gotten some really bad advise from his inner circle. They forgot how they won in 2008! But maybe Obama was serious when he said he'd rather be a good 1-term president. He will likely get his wish.

Posted by: KT11 | December 9, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

President Obama is acting like a President should. His protections for the worst hit by this recession are proof positive.

Compromise is the only route when the Senate owns the filibuster and Republicans refuse to enact anything unless they get tax cuts for the rich.

They campaigned on deficit reduction. Now they walk a different walk. GIMMEE GIMMEE GIMMEE

Republicans are owned and operated by the most affluent reactionaries the world has ever known. Yet it is still not enough to satisfy their habit.

Posted by: rowens1 | December 9, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Obama DID fold on healthcare. He took the public option off the table and colluded with Big Insurance to reject single payer even before there was a table. He has consistently folded like a cheap suit.

Posted by: hermanbubbert | December 9, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

When all the dust settles, the popular notion will be that the Left, the Democrats, the Progressives, the Liberals, and their ilk, are the problem. And Obama is right to shove them out of the way.

The media is painting this mural of a reasonable Right and a pragmatic President fighting off the wild passions of the out-of-touch and irresponsible Left.

The monster is not the one who insisted on holding all legislation at bay, including extension of unemployment benefits, until the rich were guaranteed continuation of their tax cut (and stealthily throwing in a rich-friendlier inheritance tax scheme). All of which blatantly increased the deficit they hate so much.

No, the monster is the Left for wanting to extend unemployment benefits without a bunch of strings attached, and, heavens to Betsy, was actually concerned that extension of the tax cuts for the rich would make the deficit much worse.

Sarah has to be chuckling.

Posted by: sherm1 | December 9, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Everyone has an opinion

Some of the people with opinions even have money

The bottom line is why assume that people with money are responsible for the deficit. Why assume that the Bush taxes created the deficit. Liberals can get mad but they can't "emotionalize" their way past those two questions. At least not with Republicans in the Senate.

So the real problem is that the majority position is irrelevant as long as one Senator can hold up the advancement of a bill. The second problem is the Democratic inability to exploit their majority in both houses of Congress.

Facing these problems, the Democrats in Congress choose to rage at Obama?

I guess that's why 63 of them are on the way home come January. 2 years is long enough to demonstrate that they can't get it done. Obama is quite right: it's now or never. Give them a day to whine and complain, tomorrow they will all be on board with this deal, hoping to get it through before the Republicans wise up and realize they could have gotten a lot more concessions from the Democrats in exchange for a tax-cut on the poor and middle-class and a 13 month extension of UI benefits.

Posted by: chucklebuck | December 9, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

TT -- I certainly hope that the Bible she's using is the King James Version.

Posted by: dudeupnorth | December 9, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Obama can win in 2012 by moving to the Center......uh huh

The Right AND the Center just tossed out most available democrats

The 'center" does not like Obama's antiAmerican marxist-lite version of the future.

NObama and NO democrats 2012

Democrats: Legislating Recession into Depression since the 1930's

Posted by: georgedixon1 | December 9, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, but she'll be easy to knock off in 2016 and will cost Republicans control of Washington for a generation.

Posted by: AxelDC | December 9, 2010 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Scariest cartoon EVER!

Posted by: GeneTouchet | December 9, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

The Left in this country is always enraged about something. Last week it was because Bristol Palin was doing so well on Dancing with the Stars and this week it's President Obama for making a sane decision of not raising taxes during a recession. The Left has now gone so far against Bristol they have the FCC investigating Dancing with the Stars TV show. Don't imagine neither Bristol nor Barack are worried, but could the Lefts rage against the President be considered racist since the Left is always raging against the Tea Party for their criticism?

Posted by: billybeer6 | December 9, 2010 6:10 AM | Report abuse

No, Obama is not "playing chess". If the journalists who were so infatuated with him in 2008 weren't such mental midgets then and now, that kind of absurdity wouldn't fly.

There are substantial economic reasons why this tax cut package is bad bad bad. But it would take someone with the ability to correlate information from a lot of different sources to see the direction Obama is taking the U.S. economy with this deal. Since announcing the deal, Moody's has issued a warning that it might downgrade the U.S. and the bond market has sent some serious warning flags. From an economic perspective, he's selling the baby to pay the pediatrician, and this cannot be called a smart "stimulus".

I'm so fed up with the intellectually useless journalists, like Toles, who cluelessly cheerleaded Obama to a primary win over Clinton and who continue to cluelessly applaud his terrible performance in office.

The stupids in the journalist world are the political manic, intellectually lightweight idiots who are crippling the Democratic party with their "input".

Posted by: AsperGirl | December 9, 2010 6:00 AM | Report abuse

One thing this cartoon implicitly ignores is the presidential primary. The 2012 primary could be as interesting as ever for a presidential incumbent. Granted, Obama is likely to win, given that he is the president and that the primary greatly favors the candidate with the most money. But even if Obama survives the primary, I think the left would still enthusiastically cast their vote against Palin if she were to win a primary run. I think a majority of the country supports the continuation of the United States.

Many on the left (and now even the center) are frustrated by Obama's choice of compromises. He (and some Democrats in Congress) doesn't seem to understand that a compromise is not politically prudent when, for a given issue, a majority of the country supports your side. A few examples: ending tax cuts of the rich (67%), passing stronger bank reforms (supported by a majority of Dems and independents), and introducing the public option (70%).

Posted by: DAK4Blizzard | December 9, 2010 2:58 AM | Report abuse

The president's only chance to win reelection is to move to the center. The Democrats lost 63 seats in the House as a result of governing on the Left. 63 seats! And a Republican majority in the Senate is baked in in 2012 just because the Democrats won so many seats in 2006.

The president is smart enough to realize this even if most of the posters on this message board aren't. You should stop acting like jilted little girls and get behind him - or else the Republicans will run the table in 2012.

Posted by: publius29 | December 9, 2010 12:24 AM | Report abuse

I want to see what Obama will do when the repubs start taking apart his healthcare bill. Will he compromise that out of existence? So we'll get a few dollars a week off our taxes, but don't expect to see any refunds April 15. Those few dollars are already going to pay for the rising gas prices, so the oil companies will get rich and the economy will slow due to rising overall prices. So much for stimulus, yet no one, Dem or repub, has mentioned that. Also, why is everyone lumping SS in with the deficit? SS is self-sustaining and adds nothing to the deficit, yet all we hear about is cutting SS to slow the deficit, meanwhile borrowing billions more. So much for the repubs listening to America, huh?

Posted by: mikel7 | December 8, 2010 11:11 PM | Report abuse

R-I-G-H-T O-N! (or is that Left On?) You have identified in a few strokes of your pen the INANITY of all the threats from liberals of withholding their support for Obama, who has, let us remember, done a great deal of good in rescuing the economy, passing health care reform etc. It is absurdly UNTRUE that he has done nothing to move America forward in a progressive direction.
Keep up the good work, and Obama for 2012!

Posted by: stevenbeller | December 8, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Ironic poker theme given all the articles warning Obama not to abandon his "base," or else they'll primary him, stay at home, refuse to donate, etc. Right.

A completely transparent bluff that has been called. And will again.

Posted by: sold2u | December 8, 2010 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Libs don't worry, President Obama will be back in your good graces soon because he knows libs have short memories.

Posted by: jornolibist | December 8, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Toles, a Palin victory would be the fault of the Democrats and not of the left. Please do not conflate the two. If the Democrats can not use the considerable manpower, technology, and money at their disposal to make effective and persuasive cases for their causes, then they deserve to lose.

Posted by: bushidollar | December 8, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: UNLISTED | December 8, 2010 6:23 PM
"Obama has lost his base. He belittles them and then asks them to volunteer and for money. He won't even stand up for Democratic values even when a huge majority of people support those values - e.g. raising taxes on millionaires. The Dems will be crushed in 2012 even if there's no primary challenge. Obama had huge majorites in H&S and public opinion behind him and he squandered it all."

UNLISTED, you are blaming President Obama for the short comings of the Dems. Prior to the election, the Dems refused to go on the offensive. Since the Dems ejoyed full control of the House and Senate, they could have mired the Repubs in investigations and hearings, slowly sopping the Republicans’s political strength. The Dems could gotten the DOJ to start investigations into the banksters. Instead of waiting for lame duck session, the Dems could have worked on tax cuts, extending unemployment benefits for years, etc Did they? Nope. Instead the played the part of namby pambies. Instead of running to confrontation and taking the fight to the Repubs, they ran away from confrontation and their achievements. So lets not be to critical of President “Let’s make a deal” Obama, since he knew what was waiting for him behind the curtains. Heck, the Dems are so pathetic that had Henry Carey been live today, he would have written volumes on them. The Dems should change their party mascot from a jackass to a stingless Portuguese Man of War.

Posted by: bushidollar | December 8, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Let me be clear - I volunteered for Obama, I donated to his campaign and observed elections in my local district. I think he's an intelligent, well-spoken and honorable man - BUT the reason that we were crushed in November was because he's acting like a Republican. Gitmo closed? No. Out of Iraq? No. Investigate Bush &Co about the trumped up reasons to invade Iraq? - again, No. Mountain top removal moratorium? No. Off Shore Drilling moratorium? - No, followed by Deep Water horizon disaster just weeks later, and then a half-yes (only eastern gulf is off limits). End the obscene tax rate on Billionaire hedge fund managers? No, it's still 15%. Healthcare reform? - not really - no controls on costs, no 'public option' even though it could be a simple Medicare Buy In at 18 years old. Did he do anything about Citizens v. United? No. The list goes on and on and on. And this was with almost a super majority in the Senate and a huge majority in the House. Obama has lost his base. He belittles them and then asks them to volunteer and for money. He won't even stand up for Democratic values even when a huge majority of people support those values - e.g. raising taxes on millionaires. The Dems will be crushed in 2012 even if there's no primary challenge. Obama had huge majorites in H&S and public opinion behind him and he squandered it all.

Posted by: UNLISTED | December 8, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

The GOP is, as always, good at making up a talking point and hammering it -- true or not -- until people believe it.

This week's talking point: Obama caved.

But if you saw Obama's press conference, and not just the sound bites but the whole thing, I thought he looked strong and clear and correct: compromise is how things get done in Congress.

After the mid-term wins by the GOP some analyst said, "Now Obama has the GOP right where he wants them: engaged and responsible for the outcomes." Obama made that point multiple times during the press conference. And he's right. For the first time in two years the GOP has compromised on ANYTHING.

This is a win for America. We have a Congress that can do something again. It isn't perfect. There are compromises. But we're moving.

Posted by: egc52556 | December 8, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

"Resign Obama! Resign."

Are you a Republican? What a joke. You represent a faction of the party that used to ask "What is it to win? What is victory?"

President Obama is a proven winner. He has gone after the tough jobs and has managed to win more than anyone expected. Now it is time to be patient.

The country did push the Republicans up a bit, but I can only believe that some of the people were fooled some of the time. When we see what th Republicans really have in mind, the public will come back.

We have a lot of projects about to win success.

Why give up now?

Unless you are one that thinks "we can not win.." and believes it.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | December 8, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Chess and poker?

You may have heard some of the comments in the 60's and later tht we were inferior to the Russians because they played chess and the USA was full of poker players. Well the poker players won. As for President Obama - he did not fold. They did want him to give up on health care. I rather like his tenacity.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | December 8, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't see why you would think the Republicans would eventually cave on the unemployment insurance.

Posted by: jhnnywalkr | December 8, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Hi Tom,

I think Obama totally capitulated. "Yes we cave!" should be his new motto. You don't think the Repubs would have blinked when Employment Insurance ran out? He has huge majorities for a short time and yet he wants to give Millionaires a $100,000 while we're at 9.8% unemployment. His entire approach is buying into the republican meme of solving everything with tax cuts.

If Obama really cared for this country, HE WOULD RESIGN. Then we'd have President Biden, who I think has the balls to stand up to the republicans - and we'll have a chance to win in 2012. If there's a serious primary challenge to Obama, the dems will be crushed in 2012 - but as it's going now, Obama is going to be crushed anyway. He's even opened up Social Security to being defunded by the 'tax holiday'. Who's going to want to 'raise' payroll taxes to their previous levels? In an ongoing recession with high unemployment.

Resign Obama! Resign.

Posted by: UNLISTED | December 8, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

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