Conservative columnist David Brooks -- who often vacillates between praising President Obama and criticizing him -- takes the president to task today for his deficit-reduction plan, which includes taxing the wealthy.
The White House has decided to wage the campaign as fighting liberals. I guess I understand the choice, but I still believe in the governing style Obama talked about in 2008. I may be the last one. I’m a sap.
But the Washington Monthly's Steve Benen argues that Obama's decision only came after Republicans walked away from his "grand bargain" on deficit reduction. As Benen puts it, Brooks "believes Charlie Brown has an obligation to keep trying to kick the ball, even if he knows Lucy will pull it away."
Love the president or hate him, he’s done what he said he would do. Obama has reached out to Republicans, even when he didn’t have to; he embraced Republican ideas as much as he could; he’s given plenty of administration posts to Republicans officials; and he’s demonstrated, to a fault, a willingness to compromise with his opponents.
And how did Republicans respond to a conciliatory president’s outstretched hand? By slapping it away. GOP officials have rejected every idea the president has ever suggested, even occasionally rejecting their own ideas after Obama accepted them. Republicans have not only forcefully abandoned the very idea of compromise, over the summer, they pushed the nation to the brink of an economic catastrophe, on purpose, rather than work in good faith with the White House.
As it turns out, Brooks criticized conservatives when they walked away from the grand bargain the first time -- but that was back in mid-July.
All of these groups share the same mentality. They do not see politics as the art of the possible. They do not believe in seizing opportunities to make steady, messy progress toward conservative goals. They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.