There’s very little room for misinterpretation of Jon Chait’s latest NY Mag piece, if you go by the title:
How Obama Tried to Sell Out Liberalism in 2011
So, yeah. For those of you keeping all hands and arms inside the boat on this, the short version is Chait completely buys this weekend’s Kaplan Special on the President being at total fault in the debt ceiling debate last year for not rejecting the GOP out of hand and just using his Green Lantern ring to create a deal and tell the GOP take it or else. When it became clear the GOP wouldn’t accept any deal short of 100% of what they wanted, it was the height of liberal idiocy to continue down the path of good faith. This constitutes, let’s see here, that “Obama’s disastrous weakness in the summer of 2011 went further toward undermining liberalism than anybody previously knew”.
Chait argues that President Obama wanting a deal — any deal, mind you — led him to treat the GOP as good faith partners when they were clearly not. Republicans, he goes on to say, were going to screw POTUS and the country no matter what Obama did. This is where Chait’s argument turns into purist whining: There was nothing President Obama could have done that would have changed the outcome of the GOP screwing us over (indeed, the GOP is now signaling that it will simply ignore the debt deal), and at the same time he didn’t do enough to change the outcome. It’s just meaningless stupidity, brought about by the “liberal” Washington Post unloading this hit piece on the President, and Chait absolutely takes the bait, re-fighting the same arguments we had in 2010 and 2011 about “but if Obama had done THIS and LISTENED TO HOW SMART I AM…” five minutes after saying there was nothing he could have done.
There’s nothing productive about this civil war re-enactment other than Chait scratching his own “Tell Obama what to do” itch that so many of our professional pundit class seem to suffer from. But generating that itch was the entire point of the Kaplan piece. Chait performed admirably, attacking the President from the left. After all, attacks from the right aren’t working too well, since the wingers keep putting most of their ammo into their own feet. Whenever the left is winning, we have to be demoralized into our own worst enemies, and we’re damn good at it.
It keeps pissing me off that we’re really going to go through the same self-flagellation over this when we should be concentrating on taking back the House, keeping the Senate, and not losing the White House to any of the GOP dipsticks. Instead, we’re just going to bash ourselves in the gonads until the GOP crawls across the finish line. Awesome. Thanks, Jon.