A less than electrifying performance. I understand the difficulties and
sympathize. There's little Obama can do in the short term about the
refusal of House Republicans to budge. As long as they are willing to
destroy the nation's credit standing if that is what it takes to win,
Obama's choice essentially boils down to capitulation in the national
interest or mutually assured destruction. Even so, the press conference
was dispiriting. Obama seemed unusually hesitant and unsure of himself.
I'm not sure what he hoped to achieve by it.
NBC's Chuck Todd asked a good question: any regrets over failing to back Bowles-Simpson from the start? That was a grand bargain, after all, based on a balanced agenda of tax increases and spending cuts--much like the proposal Obama now apparently prefers. I say "apparently" because he still has not spelled out in public a plan of his own. Asked at the press conference to make one specific proposal on entitlement reform, he dodged yet again, merely laying out criteria for what he might be willing to accept if somebody else happened to come up with a plan.
His answer on Bowles-Simpson was telling. Among other things, he said that the public is already there, so a Bowles-Simpson-like plan never needed any great effort of selling on his part. All it requires is a spirit of compromise on Capitol Hill--and a new willingness in both parties in Congress to listen to public opinion.