And there you have it. No grand deal, because Barack Obama did not cave. QED.
Look, I understand that the greatest fear is the fear of the unknown. People have been frightening themselves with what they imagine might be happening, because they don't have any better information and they're trying to find patterns in vague, shifting and contradictory rumors. But that does not excuse those who predicate hysterical characterizations of "fact" on news reports based on rumors passed along by unnamed "sources" in a fluid and confidential negotiating environment. I have heard so much conclusory nonsense about "what Obama is doing" over the past week, it's absurd.
It does not in any way justify jumping to the worst possible conclusion and trashing the character of a man who is obviously--OBVIOUSLY--public-minded and intending the best for the common people of the United States of America.
As of right now, everything has played out as well as Democrats could possibly hope. Boehner has quit the table, Obama is talking about a "grand deal" in the past tense and laying the blame squarely on the Republicans and we're pretty much guaranteed nothing but a clean or near-clean bill...or a default which will be the Republicans' fault.
...And what does this tell us? It tells us that the people who have been shrieking "OBAMA'S CAVING!!!!!!!" for a week were full of it from the beginning.
IF OBAMA HAD CAVED, BOEHNER WOULDN'T HAVE QUIT. The fact that Boehner walked away from the table is proof positive that Obama did not, in fact, give away the farm. It's pretty obvious that he held out for revenue increases in exchange for cuts, and--exactly as I predicted a week ago--the Republicans can't possibly agree to tax increases, so no deal, period.
I do believe that Obama wanted to find a way to reduce the deficit. I do not believe that he was ever willing to do anything that would substantively reduce social net benefits: in fact, I'm sure that he is thinking in the longer term about the reality that Medicare will, indeed, become insolvent in the future. And he was willing to consider making changes to try to make the program sustainable, thereby both extending a serious bargain to the Republicans, demonstrating his even-handed reasonableness, and his political courage in being willing to touch the third rail to try to make things work better.
But he was never willing to do that without popping the bubble of the Republicans' lockstep refusal to allow any more revenue. In his public statements, he went back to corporate tax loopholes and the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy over and over again. It was abundantly clear to me that these were non-negotiables for him.
Now, he's much less of a cynic than I am. I think he genuinely believes that there are reasonable people in the Republican party who, in their minds, want what's best for the country. So he kept engaging to try to get them to see that he was offering them a great deal.
But the Republicans in Congress are NOT reasonable. They worship tax cuts in a religious sense. They cannot be brought to support additional governmental revenues under any circumstances.
And while many on the left and certainly some in Congress have freaked out at the rumors, positioning messages and half-facts that have been flying around for the past week, that's all been nothing more than tea leaf reading. And it is based in a fundamental difference that I have with those people: They think that Barack Obama has no values, heart, or character, and will roll over just to get a "win".
Let me say this: I have no effing idea why they think this, because he has never, ever done that. Every time he has had to make a deal, he's made a good one. People point at the HCR bill as an example, but that's nonsense. If a public option had gotten out of Congress, Obama would have signed it in ten seconds. But it couldn't, and there was nothing he could do to make the likes of Lieberman support it, so he got what he could...which is still a vast improvement over the status quo, presuming the Republicans, who like the status quo just fine, don't kill it.
I believe that the predisposition to think the very worst of the man and jump to character assassination at the drop of a hat speaks far more about the psychology of those who do it than it does to anything about Barack Obama. It is embarrassing to me how quickly people turn to rhetoric as poisonous as anything on Red State in relation to the man who has done all this.
Is it everything we want? No. We want to end war and world hunger and cancer and ignorance and bigotry and the designated hitter. But doing all that, and nothing less, is not the standard by which any human being should be measured.
Those who presumed the worst about President Obama's intentions and character owe him a profound and humble apology. Not that I see that forthcoming.
But it's deserved, nonetheless.