Thursday, July 07, 2011

Recommended Reading

If you're like me, you've been sitting on tenterhooks for the last few days watching the debt ceiling debate go into extra innings with no end in sight. And based on the news that's trickling out, you're starting to wonder how badly President Obama will whiff this thing by giving into the strong-arm tactics of congressional Republicans.

Now, we've already been down this road enough times now to know what usually comes at the end of it: the president's practiced pragmatism runs headlong into GOP obstinacy, and progressives surrender even more ideological turf. Well, the way things are playing out, it sure looks like history is going to repeat itself, and per former Bush speechwriter David Frum, Obama has no one to blame on this but Obama:
...the president could have included an increase in the debt ceiling in the December deal to extend the Bush tax cuts. The Republicans dearly wanted that extension. Obama did not use leverage when he had it -- and so he became a victim of leverage when he lacked it. 
Then, as Republicans discovered the power of their new tool, the president decided to assume they were bluffing, that they would never actually do anything so reckless. Waking up to the reality of the situation too late, he commenced bargaining by offering what he assumed would be an irresistible deal. Wrong again. The Republicans did resist. So Obama offered an even better deal -- which predictably only whetted the GOP appetite for still more.
And that's coming from a Republican, folks. But given the mere fact that Frum knows the seriousness of the situation and the importance of raising the debt limit, that immediately places him at odds with the overwhelming majority of his party that's long since hitched its wagon to litmus tests and an obstinacy that the president has only enabled further. More from Frum at the link, all of it worth a look.

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