President Obama is the only grown-up in Washington
Part of being a wise politician – and an adult – is compromising with your ideological rivals sometimes, especially when it's for the greater good of a divided government and recovering nation. Lately, it seems President Obama is the only grown-up in the room.
“Politicians are not stupid. Politicians are not stupid. Politicians are not stupid.” This is the first rule of political analysis.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
They know when to cover their behinds. Usually, this is all too apparent, but these past few weeks the folks in Congress have been acting so crazy, I have to keep repeating this mantra to myself.
The Democrats are ticked at their party’s leader, Mr. Obama, for working out a compromise with the party of small government and big tax cuts. Never mind that the deal may just keep the economy from slowing to a standstill. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that everyone was talking about the sluggish economy as the reason that Democrats lost so many seats?
Even some of the same Democrats who voted for Bush’s original tax cuts have apparently found religion and were full of self-righteous indignation that Obama agreed to a two-year extension of their vote. I know they are supposed to look after their own interests, but can this be smart? They seemed so angry to me that I actually think their feelings were hurt.
I’ve heard that the Obama administration has been terrible at communicating with Democrats on Capitol Hill, and I know that liberals have had to settle for a good bit of moderate legislation, but do they really think they could have gotten something better?
Of course, the liberals aren’t alone in this theater of the bizarre.
Right when I think that shared governance has brought the Republicans back to the land of responsibility and compromise, they go and vote against a bill that would grant federal aid to 9/11 workers and victims who are sick because of the time they spent at ground zero.
When I first read that headline, I thought surely there must be a logical explanation for an otherwise monstrous-sounding move. Sure enough, there was a reason; the federal aid would add something in the neighborhood of $7 billion to the budget deficit. Remember this was two days after Republicans had fought for and won a tax break extension for millionaires that would add hundreds of billions to the deficit.
Drawing lines in the sand
It may be that Democrats and Republicans are cynical actors playing their roles for the folks back home, but if so, the constituents they're listening to are the outliers. There is some evidence that the tax deal is popular among the general public and it is hard to imagine that the 9/11 aid bill would not be, which makes me think that something closer to the heart is involved. Both groups feel like they have been forced to draw a line in the sand.