A Failure To Communicate...

So much for 'Very Serious People'


"I will not support -- I will not support -- any plan that puts all the burden for closing our deficit on ordinary Americans. And I will veto any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share," Mr. Obama said. "We are not going to have a one-sided deal that hurts the folks who are most vulnerable." 

Mr. Obama also seems to have given up on his strategy of nearly a year, beginning when Republicans won control of the House last November, of being the eager-to-compromise "reasonable adult" -- in the White House's phrasing -- in his relations with them. He had sought to build a personal relationship with Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, a man the White House saw as a possible partner across the aisle, in the hopes of making bipartisan progress and simultaneously winning points with independent voters who disdain partisanship. 

Even if the efforts produced few agreements with Republicans, the White House figured, independents would give Mr. Obama credit for trying. Instead, the president was unable to close his deal with Mr. Boehner and has only lost independents' support and left Democrats disillusioned, raising doubts about his re-election prospects.

Jonathan Chait notes that Obama isn't "trying to cut a deal anymore. He's trying to clarify his position to the public."

This would also be a good time to clarify a related matter on Democratic support in Congress. Last week I wrote about what certainly seemed to be objections lodged by Delaware senator Tom Carper. Some of Carper's people later told Jonathan Cohn that the quote didn't accurately convey Carper's true level of support:

But Carper staffers contacted me shortly after the item went live, arguing that their boss was far more enthusiastic about the Obama bill than the article suggested -- that Carper supports the proposal. To make their case, they pointed to other statements Carper has made. After Obama's speech, for example, Carper told the Delaware News-Journal that "From cutting taxes for small businesses to creating more job growth, the American Jobs Act is a strong package that merits bipartisan and bicameral support."

Glad to see that. 
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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