Obama is trying to govern

There’s an important point in a recent blog post by Steve Benen that would be easy to overlook: He discusses Democratic disgust with the president over his apparent willingness to give away the store in the debt ceiling debate, despite the fact that he’s won the upper hand:

After months of head-spinning, soul-crushing debate, Democrats had the upper hand in the debt-ceiling fight. Americans are siding with Dems on raising the debt limit, seeking new revenue, and raising taxes on the wealthy. Republicans, meanwhile, are seen as unwilling to compromise, which happens to be true.

If a crisis unfolds, it would be the GOP that gets the blame, a point that’s not lost on the Republican leadership, most notably Mitch McConnell. The result is an unpopular party that’s isolated, divided, and viewed as needlessly extreme.

And President Obama is going to give in to these guys?

Obama has won the PR battle. Politically, he’s dealing from a position of strength. Republicans will earn the blame if disaster strikes. But Obama’s the president, and it’s his job to try to avert disaster, even if he won’t be blamed for it. In order to avert disaster, he has to deal with irrational, irresponsible Republicans who will reflexively oppose anything he supports. He’s trying to actually govern and do what’s best for the nation.

The political/p.r. battle has gone the Democrats’ way. That doesn’t mean, unfortunately, Republicans will suddenly see the light and do the right thing. More and more, they appear quite willing to shoot their hostage and crash the economy on purpose, even if they know they’ll get the blame. The GOP is in the grips of insanity. As Benen said, “But some seem to have the impression that Obama can win the p.r. fight, use that as leverage, and wait for the GOP to fold. There’s no reason to think Republicans are or will be willing to fold, which makes some kind of compromise necessary.”

The question Americans should be asking, though, is whether any genuine compromise would satisfy Republicans, who appear to be demanding instead complete capitulation.

This is an extreme unsettling place for the nation to be. Literally, the country’s economic future is in the hands of a group of madmen.

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