This is a depressing read:
Mr. Obama’s pay ploy might, just might, have been justified if he had used the announcement of a freeze as an occasion to take a strong stand against Republican demands — to declare that at a time when deficits are an important issue, tax breaks for the wealthiest aren’t acceptable.
But he didn’t. Instead, he apparently intended the pay freeze announcement as a peace gesture to Republicans the day before a bipartisan summit. At that meeting, Mr. Obama, who has faced two years of complete scorched-earth opposition, declared that he had failed to reach out sufficiently to his implacable enemies. He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have.
There were no comparable gestures from the other side. Instead, Senate Republicans declared that none of the rest of the legislation on the table — legislation that includes such things as a strategic arms treaty that’s vital to national security — would be acted on until the tax-cut issue was resolved, presumably on their terms.
It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure — that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold. And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right.
The real question is what Mr. Obama and his inner circle are thinking. Do they really believe, after all this time, that gestures of appeasement to the G.O.P. will elicit a good-faith response?
What’s even more puzzling is the apparent indifference of the Obama team to the effect of such gestures on their supporters. One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset. Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.
Whatever is going on inside the White House, from the outside it looks like moral collapse — a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.
I honestly don’t know what they are doing. I thought it was absurd all the hand-wringing right out of the gate in 2009, but it has been two years now. We’ve seen nothing but capitulation from the Dems and the WH, and the Republicans are being rewarded for their behavior. What are they doing? What are they thinking?
Is there honestly not one advisor in the WH who has Obama’s ear who hates the Republicans? Because that is what we need. Someone in there who hates the Republicans with the burning intensity of a million suns. No more playing nice. That didn’t work the last two years. Start fighting back. Stop trying to find common ground and start heightening the contradictions.
Meanwhile, as this extremely important battle over domestic policy is being waged, the President is… in Afghanistan.