Ezra reports that Obama made a deal with republicans that he wouldn't attack them over the debt ceiling if they worked behind the scenes in good faith. Obama's presser came about when republicans pulled out and the talks fell through. Obama's words were fighting words, however
But he didn’t want this fight. He wanted a deal. And he wasn’t able to get one that the White House considered even minimally acceptable. After putting more than $2 trillion of spending cuts on the table, they weren’t even able to get $400 billion — about a sixth of the total — in tax increases.
It's not the first time he's done this. Considering how the last time went it's no wonder he was desperate to keep it secret at any cost.
I've heard Obama say good policy makes good politics but that's not true. Good policy requires good politics. Any the reason Obama couldn't get even modest tax increases is because he didn't think to bring politics into the mix until after the fact, and begrudgingly at that. Good leaders fight to avoid compromise. Obama compromises to avoid fighting. Democrats did not send him there to avoid fights, they sent him there to win them. They can take losing a fight but not refusing one. Imagine what he could have gotten if he brought politics in early.
To those who say doing so would be pointless I've got two words for you: Paul Ryan. Turns out those angry republican townhalls did know they were being screwed once someone bothered to explain it to them. But presidents compromise. Leaders fight. Obama likes being President but has no interest in his role as head of the Democratic party. He wants his legacy to be the President who made the tough choices and giving your base what they want isn't exactly a tough choice. In Obama's world the more the left wants something the less likely will get it. Pissing off your base seems to be a prerequisite these days. Are there any policies on the left he thinks worth enacting? Because every time you enact policies your base hates you are essentially saying the left has nothing to offer, brings nothing to the table.
Obama's very defensive and gets very testy when you question him on it. One would think an ideal compromise would leave your own party happy for once and the republicans upset, or least give him pause as to why it's always the other way around. But I'm not holding my breath.