Obama’s favorite “right wing” columnist David Brooks strikes out again with a column that suggests he’s a little too insulated from reality inside the Beltway. My responses to some of Brooks’ laughable assertions are bolded and italicized:
Barack Obama ran for president as a network liberal, and entranced a Facebook nation. But in office, Obama, like George W. Bush before him, narrowed his networks. To get things done quickly, he governed like a cluster liberal, relying on partisan leaders.
The results were predictable: insularity, alienation and defeat [You mean like with his signature issue – ObamaCare – which was rammed through both chambers of Congress and signed into law by the President? -ST]. So now we are headed toward divided government. But there is a whiff of coalition-building in the air. Dick Durbin and Tom Coburn boldly embraced the bipartisan fiscal commission process. Obama opened up a comprehensive set of negotiations with Republican leaders to handle the Bush tax cuts. [And House liberals turned their backs on this deal yesterday, possibly killing it before the ‘lame duck’ session is over. -ST]
The big story of the week is that Obama is returning to first principles, re-establishing himself as a network liberal. This isn’t a move to the center or triangulation. It’s not the Clinton model or the Truman model or any of the other stale categories people are trying to impose on him. It’s standing at one spot in the political universe and trying to build temporarily alliances with people at other spots in the political universe. [Which is why President Obama is meeting with Bill Clinton at 3 pm today in a closed-door meeting at the WH. No, he’s not attempting to triangulate. Right. – ST]
You don’t have to abandon your principles to cut a deal. You just have to acknowledge that there are other people in the world and even a president doesn’t get to stamp his foot and have his way. [Except when it comes to ObamaCare, Stimulus II, SCHIP, Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, 2 SCOTUS Justices confirmed …. -ST]
Cluster liberals in the House and the commentariat are angry. They have no strategy for how Obama could have better played his weak hand [“Better played his weak hand”? He CAVED! President Obama has been insistent that the Bush tax cuts for the so-called “wealthy” not be extended, and his liberal base wholeheartedly agreed. -ST] — with a coming Republican majority, an expiring tax law and several Democratic senators from red states insisting on extending all the cuts. They just sense the waning of their moment and are howling in protest.
They believe nonliberals are blackmailers or hostage-takers or the concentrated repositories of human evil, so, of course, they see coalition-building as collaboration. They are also convinced that Democrats should never start a negotiation because they will always end up losing in the end. (Perhaps psychologists can explain the interesting combination: intellectual self-confidence alongside a political inferiority complex). [Perhaps Mr. Brooks could partake in some of this psychologist counseling himself. -ST]
The fact is, Obama and the Democrats have had an excellent week. The White House negotiators did an outstanding job for their side. With little leverage, they got not only the unemployment insurance, but also an Earned Income Tax Credit provision, a college scholarship provision and other Democratic goodies. With little leverage, they got a package that could win grudging praise from big-name liberal groups like the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Center for American Progress. [Only if they think of Obama the way David Brooks does… – ST]
Moreover, Obama has put himself in a position to govern again. The package is popular. According to the most recent Gallup numbers, 67 percent of independents and 52 percent of Democrats support extending all the tax cuts. Higher numbers support extending the unemployment insurance. Obama is reminding independents why they liked him in the first place. [Because that’s what it is all about: Pure political TRIANGULATION in order to try and win in 2012. That David Brooks denies this is an attempt at triangulation defies all logic, and I suspect that Mr. Triangulator himself – Bill Clinton – would laugh at this. And maybe he will … right after his 3 pm meeting with President Obama. -ST]
It’s very, very strange what a man’s “perfectly creased” pant leg can do to another man’s once-sensible judgment. Ah well. If nothing else, Brooks has at least solidified his popularity in the DC cocktail circuit for the next week or so, not to mention his top 5 slot on David Axelrod’s cell phone “must-call” list.