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Friday, December 9, 2016

Fat lot of good it’s done Barack Obama to pose as The Great Compromiser. The more “Grand Bargains” he’s proposed, the further Republicans have fled in the opposite direction. Is it really possible that Obama mistook the U.S. government for the Harvard Law Review, where his reputation as a fair-minded mediator earned him universal respect?

With yet another round of budgetary hostage-taking and government shutdowns threatened this autumn—throwing Americans out of work and stifling the economy—isn’t it time Obama adjusted to GOP radicalism?

Historian Rick Perlstein (the author of Nixonland) put it this way to MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki:

The reason Obama’s rhetoric and his whole strategic approach to his presidency fails is because going back six years or more, he fundamentally misunderstands the Republican Party. He doesn’t understand [how] they behave, this kind of Leninist cell waiting in the mountains, waiting for the final apocalypse…

Barack Obama is constitutionally incapable of saying, ‘we have adversaries.’ That every time a Democratic president comes in that they handle the government more effectively. Every time a Democratic president comes in, they create more jobs than the Republicans. But to say that would be constitutionally impossible for Obama because he needs to tell this story about reconciliation—there is no Red America, there is no Blue America.

Nobody made Obama endorse deficit-cutting as the centerpiece of his economic policy. But he ought to notice that with the federal budget deficit shrinking at an unprecedented rate—the FY2013 shortfall will be less than half of the $1.3 trillion gap George W. Bush left behind—GOP leaders keep falsifying reality. On Fox News Sunday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor brazenly insisted that Congress should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”

Which is worse? Whether Cantor knows he’s blowing smoke, or doesn’t know?

Neither did anybody make Obama embrace the misleading metaphor about how in tough times governments need to tighten their belts like families.

However, almost every family borrows to finance long-term purchases; government needs to invest for the future too.

Unlike your family, the government can create money. It’s precisely when private enterprises can’t invest that government should. By accepting the “belt tightening” metaphor, Obama even made it harder to credit the (too small) 2009 stimulus bill’s role in halting the economy’s free fall.

With an allegedly “Socialist” president talking like a GOP banker, the radicalism of the Republican right has become invisible to many. In Arkansas, we have a Washington libertarian hero named Tom Cotton running for the U.S. Senate. Tax-hating billionaires are promoting him like an American Idol contestant. He announced from his (childhood) home in Yell County—one county west of where I live.

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