MARK KARLIN, BUZZFLASH EDITOR FOR TRUTHOUT
Remember the old cliche about the optimist seeing a glass that is half full, while the pessimist views it as half empty?
That's basically the analogy for whether or not you buy President Obama's lacerating attack on progressives yesterday. Obama argues that he is a guy that gets the best deal, and so he ends up with only half a glass.
Liberal critics contend that Obama starts his negotiations with a glass half full and ends up with a glass a quarter-filled or nearly empty.
On December 7, the president, in a rare show of passion, lashed out at both what he called "sanctimonious" progressives, on the one hand, and Republican "hostage takers" on the other.
Given a two-year track record of statements, Obama appears to see himself as a mediator rather than a leader. A leader moves the debate to his or her side of an issue and then negotiates from there. Obama starts the negotiations, as I pointed out the other day, from mid-field and moves to the right.
The fact remains that Republicans on Capitol Hill, in general, are delighted about the deal on taxes that was cut with the White House, while the majority of Democrats appear to be fuming.
Obama's argument is that this is the best "deal" that he can get. Detractors argue that he negotiates from weakness and, frequently, a misperception about where the American public stands on issues. (Numerous polls have shown that the majority of voters oppose "bonus" tax breaks for the rich).
As much as Americans are tired of the "partisan bickering" in DC, they still, I think, want a president who takes a strong position and fights for it, not a defensive mediator.
Maybe, instead of championing a glass half full, President Obama should fill it to the brim and dare the Republicans to empty it.
His passion would be better channeled in that direction than by chastising progressives with whom he claims to share the same values.
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