I think it’s fair to say that the outcome of the latest battle in America’s endless fiscal war hasn’t done anything to improve President Obama’s image with what Paul Wellstone used to call the Democratic Party wing of the Democratic Party.
Progressives of all stripes have roundly condemned the POTUS for signing a deal that preserves 82 percent of the Bush tax cuts (even though Obama said, all along, that he wanted to extend something like 75 percent of them).
Depending on who’s talking, this amounts to either a total surrender of the hard-fought progressive gains of Clinton’s first term in office, or the bid of a sociopath (yes, the word was used) to overthrow what remains of the New Deal.
Now I have to admit: Up until now I had not realized that the Clinton years were the Progressive Golden Age. Nor was I aware that the president who pushed through, at great political cost, national health care coverage (an admittedly half-assed version, but still), expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit, and gave us the largest peacetime Keynesian stimulus package in U.S. history, was actually Paul Ryan in drag.
But if I’m not here to bury Obama, I’m also not here to praise him. I’ve got my own alphabetical list of betrayals—beginning with drone strikes, continuing through extraordinary renditions (i.e. kidnapping), Gitmo, and Palestine, and ending with warrantless wiretapping. As far as the dirty war (a.k.a. the war on terror) is concerned, the Obama presidency looks to me to be basically Bush’s third and fourth terms—albeit with less torture and more competency.
Given how bad the Bush years were, maybe I should be thankful for that much.
However, despite the round-the-clock Twitter agonizing, I’m finding it hard to feel the burn over the tax deal. Call me a running dog reactionary (these days, it’s probably true) or maybe I just expected to be sold out, but this just doesn’t strike me as worth all the progressive anguish.