Digging Up The Hatchet

Ezra points to this Youtube and posits that "you can't look at this as anything less than a tremendous defeat for the Obama administration." Greg Sargent sees Obama's shift as a body blow to the "larger argument" of liberalism:

Obama defenders will point out that he’s always been a pragmatist. But fairly or not, liberals saw in him someone who would use his extraordinary communications skills to expand the field of what’s pragmatically possible, to move public opinion not someone who would ever play by the other side’s rhetorical rules. Each time he falls short of this ideal, people grow less willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

My take here. Jared Bernstein blogs the White House response:

There are two ways to do a freeze like this: (1) an across-the-board freeze on every program outside of national security; and (2) a surgical approach where overall totals are frozen but some individual programs go up and others go down. In short, a hatchet versus a scalpel. 

During the campaign, you may recall that John McCain touted option 1 – the hatchet approach of an across-the-board freeze.

The President was critical of that approach then, and we would be critical of it now. It’s not what we’re proposing. 

To the contrary, the entire theory of the President’s proposed freeze is to dial up the stuff that will support job growth and innovation while dialing down the stuff that doesn’t.   Under our plan, some discretionary spending will go up; some will go down. That’s a big difference from a hatchet. 

I really think the tailspin of left-liberals this past week needs to end. As long as the health bill gets through and the spending freeze is supplemented by a real commission to cut spending and raise taxes, he'll be fine. If he's just putting forward a gimmick and if health reform is over, he's far from fine. But we don't know either of those facts yet. Let's wait for the SOTU, shall we?