Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Better to be his enemy than his friend

I remember during the presidential primaries of 2008 hearing some commentator on radio or television - I don't remember which or who - repeating something that had been told to him by a person who knew Barack Obama in Illinois. The person had said that it was "better to be Barack's enemy than his friend." The commentator explained that what was meant was that Obama would do anything to placate his enemies while ignoring his friends. "That's a very odd thing to say," I thought, but after watching him as president for two years, it is all too clear that that Illinoian knew him very well.

So Obama has his tax compromise and his enemies who will do anything to destroy him, the Republicans, are ecstatic. His friends are seething. Though he says otherwise, I'm not so sure that this "compromise" was not what he wanted all along. He has shown little inclination to get the rich to pay their fair share during his tenure as president. From Wall Street to Health Care Reform to the tax compromise, he has been very timid in his handling of them.

And where does this leave us?

It leaves us, in short, with the only thing standing between us and a budget-busting, deficit-increasing tax cut for the rich being the demoralized, overlooked, unconsulted friends of Obama, the Democrats in the Senate and especially in the House. As I predicted here a few days ago, that really means Nancy Pelosi. If she can hold the line and keep her caucus together, this bill will not pass. But she is up against the combined forces of the Republicans, her president, and some Blue Dog Democrats and none of them wish her well.

Still, I would not bet against her. She has more balls than anybody else in Washington. With the possible exception of Hillary Clinton.

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