President Obama has not shown an ability to govern. But he has shown a kind of spine and ruthlessness that Republicans, with few friends in the mainstream media, can rarely afford to demonstrate. This has lead to the almost certain collapse of the debt ceiling negotiations. A Wall Street Journal editorial sums up the situation so far:
Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell said yesterday he’s concluded that no deal to raise the debt ceiling in return for serious spending restraint is possible with President Obama, and who can blame him? We’ve never thought the debt ceiling was the best leverage for a showdown over the entitlement state, and now it looks like Mr. Obama is trying to use it as a way to blame the GOP for the lousy economy.
This may have been the President’s strategy all along: Take the debt-limit talks behind closed doors, make major spending cuts seem possible in the early days, but then hammer Republicans publicly as the deadline nears for refusing to raise taxes on business and “the rich.”
This would explain the President’s newly discovered fondness for press conferences, which he has rarely held but now rolls out before negotiating sessions. It would also explain why Mr. Obama’s tax demands have escalated as the August 2 deadline nears.
The editorial also says that this strategy would also explain why yesterday President Obama played the Granny Card. I have already weighed in on how shocking it is that the president, instead of taking every step possible to protect older people dependent on Social Security from unnecessary fright and suffering, is willing to use them as a pawns. But that is what the GOP is up against.
That is also why they should realize that, in the face of having a president willing to do anything to get what he wants, the solution offered yesterday by Senator Mitch McConnell is not selling out their cause. It may be the best they can get, if they can get that. Here is the summary of the McConnell deal from a news story in the Wall Street Journal:
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) unveiled a proposal that would allow President Barack Obama to raise on his own the federal borrowing limit by $2.4 trillion in three installments before the end of 2012, unless two-thirds of Congress votes to block it.
Because Mr. Obama would have to lift the debt ceiling, it could place any political fallout on him for doing so. But Republican conservatives protested that Mr. McConnell’s plan would give up the leverage the GOP has to force the White House to approve government spending cuts in return for a debt-ceiling increase….
Taken together, the developments of the past few days suggest that the collapse of the effort by Mr. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) to strike a bigger and more historic deficit-cutting deal has made the effort to negotiate a smaller agreement harder rather than easier.
President Obama has taken offense at McConnell’s statement, made some time ago, that his first goal is to ensure that Obama be a one-term president. This is highly ordinary coming from the opposition party. But Obama and the Democrats have treated it as some sort of outrageous statement on the part f a Republican leader. Yesterday, McConnell repeated it, offering a pretty good rationale for what he said:
Mr. McConnell’s proposal to allow the president to raise the debt ceiling came after he said in a Senate speech that the country cannot solve its fiscal problems with Mr. Obama as president. “After years of discussions and months of negotiations, I have little question that as long as this president is in the Oval Office, a real solution is unattainable,” he said.