I find myself in the strange position of defending President Obama's current negotiation approach on the austerity bomb while at the same time having to defend my criticism of his negotiating style in the past. It is strange to me because I believe the President has changed his approach to political bargaining - a change I believe began in August 2011 (see, e.g., How Occupy Defined the Election.) This appears to be a widespread view now - see the NYTimes' article Criticized as Weak in Past Talks, Obama Takes Harder Line.
I think I should applaud this change (even when Tim Geithner, someone I have been harshly critical of, is the chosen messenger.)
So what do I make of Glenn Greenwald's column today mocking progressive pundits moving to be "constructively critical" of President Obama? My own view is Glenn, who I consider a friend, is better off making his substantive critiques of the Obama Administration instead of keeping tabs on how MSNBC and The Nation are doing.
Regular readers know about my insistence on the need for Madman Political Bargaining in the face of the current Republican Party. And it gives me great satisfaction to see President Obama in fact adopt such an approach on the austerity bomb/fiscal cliff - see White House willing to go over fiscal cliff if absolutely necessary.
Frankly, I personally have had little to complain about in the past year from the President and his team, and this includes his austerity bomb/fiscal cliff proposal and the negotiation approach they have taken so far.
Now, to be clear, that is not to say that progressives (I'm a Centrist) do not have legitimate beefs. They do not agree with the Administration's drone policy (I do.) They argue for closing of the Gitmo detention camp (I don't. I am more interested in seeing more transparent and improved combatant status procedures.) They want the Afghan conflict ended (or at least US involvement in it.) I favored the Afghan surge and only recently, and reluctantly, have come to believe I (and more importantly, the President) have made a mistake on this issue. The warrantless surveillance regime is chock full of questions, to put it mildly.
Do I take back my past criticisms? I don't see why I should. Do I remain vigilant and, yes, skeptical? Certainly.
But if I do not recognize and acknowledge what the President and his team are doing right, that would be pretty dishonest. I'd rather avoid that if we can.