We got a deal that raises taxes on the wealthy, preserves tax rates for the middle class, extends unemployment uninsurance, extends stimulative tax measures for FIVE YEARS (who saw that coming?), raises the tax on wealthy estates, doesn't touch Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, and in fact doesn't include substantial spending cuts at all. And we got it with near unanimous consent in the Senate, with dozens of Republican Senators signing on for the first tax increase on the wealthy in 20 years, arm in arm with the Democratic caucus.
In other words, we "got 98% of what [we] wanted." Will we take yes for an answer or will we burn the farm down like a bunch of Tea Partiers?
I think Obama is really channeling Lincoln here. We seem to forget our Executive is no throne for a Sun King; we have 435 members of a fractious House and 100 Senators to deal with. Obama knows where true north leads, and yes, I trust him to navigate the swamps along the way. We can all be Thaddius Stevens and risk losing everything in the name of ideological purity, or we can recognize the fact that, to quote Joe Scarborough, this isn't Hugo Chavez' Venezuela; this is a Constitutional Republic with separation of powers and currently a divided government. And all things considered, we got a pretty f'ing good deal, even if some of the details make even me choke a bit.
Let's put this in perspective: we've made it through the debt ceiling crisis and now the fiscal cliff crisis, all while dealing with an ineffectual Speaker of the House and a snivelling weasel for a Senate Minority Leader, and we've made it through without any serious concessions on Medicare or Social Security so far. Let's be clear: chained CPI is coming, and it's important for the perpetual stability of the program, even if in a perfect world we'd just go for an all-revenue fix. (P.S.: Not going to happen, so get over it). But for now, it's a card Obama holds in his hand, and as much as it makes the Rs drool and slobber, I'd bet they'd trade their birthright - ie, new revenues - for it too.