I enjoy reading Frank Rich's column every week. It's usually a deeply researched, beautifully constructed, passionate read. But I wish it varied a little more. Longing for Barack Obama to be some kind of Huey Long, opening can after can of whup-ass on Rush Limbaugh's jiggly behind seems, well, quixotic to me. And if I thought there was some way to win a culture and rhetorical war against the FNC/RNC vortex, I could see the point of this very elegant sentence:
No one expects Obama to imitate Christie’s in-your-face, bull-in-the-china-shop shtick. But they have waited in vain for him to stand firm on what matters to him and to the country rather than forever attempting to turn non-argumentative reasonableness into its own virtuous reward.
This strikes me as grotesquely unfair. I sure know what matters to the president, and a brief survey of his first two years would reveal it rather baldly.
"Non-argumentative reasonableness" so far has prevented a second great depression, rescued Detroit, bailed out the banks, pitlessly isolated Tehran's regime, exposed Netanyahu, decimated al Qaeda's mid-level leadership in Pakistan and Afghanistan, withdrawn troops from Iraq on schedule, gotten two Justices on the Supreme Court, cut a point or two off the unemployment rate with the stimulus, seen real wages for those employed grow, presided over a stock market boom and record corporate profits, and maneuvered a GOP still intoxicated with failed ideology to become more and more wedded to white, old evangelicals led by Sarah Palin. And did I mention universal health insurance - the holy grail for Democrats for decades?
Ah, yes: Obama's restraint has been such a disaster, hasn't it? I'm with Carpenter:
Obama of course did stand firm on upper-end tax cuts throughout the 2008 campaign and continued standing in like manner as president -- until, that is, it became all too obvious that success in Congress was not an option.
The timing of Obama's D-Day offensive against the recalcitrant GOP remains precarious. My initial thoughts were, for reasons explained, that he'd dismiss the tax-cut issue as his artillery-opening opportunity, but use it to assault Republicans when they then denied him a vote on New Start. Some reasonably lengthy demonstration of presidential good faith is incumbent on Obama in order to persuade independents that he's the reasonable One; and, it seems to me, on tax cuts Republicans are playing right into his carressing hand.
Yet, as I noted earlier, such timing might be aggressively premature. Obama might yet delay his assault well into 2011, and, my guess, initially over some relatively insignificant piece of legislation (for what else will we see next year?) -- a political skirmish on which he can build, more and more thunderously, more and more Trumanesquely, heading into 2012.