Obama and the Liberals: Three Quarters of a Loaf Is Never Enough

Grunwald explains the three genres of lefty delusion: Ivory Soap, Choose Your Own Adventure, and Heighten the Contradictions.

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Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President Barack Obama delivers remarks about the fiscal cliff on December 31, 2012 in Washington, DC.

I pledged awhile back, after a certain media mogul trashed President Obama for failing to solve global warming, that I would not spend all my time ridiculing the Obama-bashing disillusionment addicts of the left. (Pretty good week for that mogul, huh?)  I mostly kept my word for 18 months, until their whiny response to the fiscal cliff deal inspired me to launch a Twitter tirade about Ivory Soap liberals, Choose Your Own Adventure liberals, Heighten The Contradictions liberals, and progressive utopianism in general. Now that I’m back from vacation, I thought I’d try to explain in more than 140 characters what I meant. Tomorrow I’ll try to explain why it’s important, and not just for the next round of budget talks.

First, a few words on the substance of the deal. Republicans wanted dramatic spending cuts, on discretionary programs as well as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. They got none of that. Obama wanted to preserve the Bush tax cuts for the poor and middle class, and restore Clinton-era rates on income above $250,000 a year. He got almost all of that; the Bush tax cuts remained in place up to $450,000 a year. Obama also wanted to extend tax credits for the working poor, the wind industry, and college students, plus benefits for the unemployed. He got all that, too. And the mini-deal spared the economy from the draconian austerity measures that would have kicked in if we had gone over the cliff. On the other hand, some of those measures were merely delayed for two months, so the Washington brinksmanship isn’t over. And the mini-deal did not raise the debt ceiling, which means that Republican hostage-takers can once again threaten to force the U.S. government into default if they don’t get what they want during the next round of negotiations.

(MORE: The Next Cliff: Another Round of Debt Brinkmanship Looms)

Still, I’d say it’s a good deal. Liberals have (correctly) argued that protecting the recovery—and protecting the vulnerable—is more important than reducing the deficit at a time when the economy still needs support. This deal was about avoiding the anti-stimulus of the cliff and the austerity demands of Republicans. Liberals have also (correctly) argued that the modern GOP is a uniquely intransigent and irresponsible party, all too willing to sabotage the economy for ideological and political reasons, driven by a reactionary combination of Tea Party principles and fear of Tea Party primary challenges. This deal managed to extract real compromises from those uncompromising Republicans, who do, after all, control the House of Representatives, along with enough Senate seats to filibuster Democratic legislation. The deal also exposed serious divisions inside the GOP, forcing House Speaker John Boehner to defy a majority of his own caucus.

Yet liberals were outraged. (Not all liberals. Michael Tomasky wisely advised his fellow lefties to stop whining.) The complaints basically fell into three categories:

Ivory Soap Liberalism: Ironically, it was that aforementioned media mogul, during his presidential campaign, who once sighed that liberals would never be satisfied even if he were 99.44% pure, like Ivory Soap. Obama has always made it clear that he’s a left-leaning pragmatist, not a progressive ideologue, but Ivory Soap has been a recurring theme during his first term, the idea that three quarters of a loaf is never enough, the widespread fantasy that the president could get 100% of what liberals wanted if only he weren’t such a weak negotiator, or so eager to please Beltway pundits, or so gleeful about selling out his base. Sure, he achieved the dream of universal health insurance, but why did he give up on the public option? Sure, he won the right for gays to serve openly in the military, but why did it take him two years? Why only an $800 billion stimulus? Why no immigration reform, or cap-and-trade, or gun control? He’s the leader of the free world!

Well, the leader of the free world doesn’t get a magic wand. And legislation that doesn’t pass both houses of Congress doesn’t make change. Yes, Obama just won another election, but so did the Republicans who control the House of Representatives, and their elections had consequences, too. Many liberals raged during the fiscal cliff talks that Obama was about to agree to massive entitlement cuts; he didn’t, so they raged that he had preserved the tax cuts on income between $250,000 and $450,000, and failed to remove the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip. Sorry, but in an era of divided government, you can’t get everything you want. If Obama hadn’t made any concessions at all, we would’ve gone over the cliff.

(SPECIAL: 2012 Person of the Year: Barack Obama, the President)

Fine, the lefties say. If we had gone over the cliff, Obama would’ve had even more leverage. The economy wouldn’t have crashed, the market wouldn’t have freaked, and the political backlash against Republicans would’ve been intense.

Uh, maybe. Which leads me to the next genre of lefty delusion…

Choose Your Own Adventure Liberalism: The funny thing about the grouches of the left, such Debbie Downers when it comes to What Is, is their inevitable optimism about the road not taken; they’re veritable Panglosses when it comes to What Could Have Been. It reminds me of those choose-your-own-adventure books. Turn to page 75, die of thirst, oh, scratch that, turn to page 67 instead. Eventually, you find the treasure.

The real world doesn’t work like that. It’s true that if we had gone over the cliff, taxes would’ve gone up across the board, and there would’ve been pressure to lower them. It doesn’t follow that therefore Republicans would’ve given Obama all he wanted. The House would’ve passed a bill restoring all the Bush tax cuts; maybe the Senate would’ve passed a bill restoring them on income up to $250,000; the final compromise probably would’ve been around, oh, $450,000. And there’s no reason to think the Republicans would’ve folded on the debt ceiling in exchange for nothing. They would’ve demanded the kind of spending cuts that liberals despise.

Of course, anything’s possible in Hypothetical Land. Maybe Obama could’ve gotten a better deal on the other side of the cliff. Maybe markets would’ve shrugged off the specter of Washington paralysis. Maybe the economy could’ve withstood weeks or months of austerity and dysfunction. Maybe. I’m just saying there’s no way to be sure, and Obama would’ve risked his presidency (and the well-being of millions of his constituents) if he took the plunge. It’s never entirely predictable how these things will play out, which is what makes the uncharacteristic confidence of the liberals so bizarre.

Even more bizarre, perhaps, is the underlying rationale for that confidence. Obama’s critics say that if he had just held the line, if he had just articulated his case, if he had just forced the Republicans to show their true obstructionist colors, the public would’ve turned on the GOP and the president would’ve gotten his way. It’s the same story with gun control; the public is on his side, so if he had just crusaded for it, he could have trumped the inconvenient truth that gun-loving Republicans control the House. This is a subgenre of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Liberalism that I call…

(MORE: Viewpoint: Where Republicans Are Going Wrong on the Fiscal Cliff)

Heighten The Contradictions Liberalism: In Rick Perlstein’s brilliant book Nixonland, he chronicled how many sixties radicals actually welcomed Nixon’s election as a way to “heighten the contradictions,” a Marxist phrase suggesting that capitalist and imperialist overreach would galvanize the public towards proletarian revolution. Modern liberals have embraced a softer-edge version of this utopian dream, the belief that if Republicans are forced to follow through on their extremist threats, the American people will finally recognize what extremists they are, so—here the logic gets even more strained—they will be forced to cave, because…uh…2014?

Liberals often argue (again, correctly) that the mainstream media is incapable of covering the brazen reality-defiance of the modern Republican Party, that the he-said-she-said conventions of the political press make false equivalence inevitable. I’ve made the same arguments. So what makes them think that if we had careened off the cliff, the MSM would’ve made it clear that the GOP was at fault? It’s true that pre-cliff polls suggested the public was inclined to blame Republicans. But polls in early 2009 suggested it would be politically suicidal for Republicans to try to obstruct a popular new president during an economic emergency; they did anyway, and it helped them regain the House in 2010. And even if the national polls were right about the cliff, so what? Most House Republicans represent districts where standing up to Obama is way more popular than cutting responsible deals.

The larger point is that Republicans are going to continue to behave like Republicans, and it’s folly to expect the disapproval of economic elites or ordinary Americans to change that. They’ve spent four years pushing for the policies that created double-dip recessions in Great Britain and Spain; they brought the U.S. to the brink of default in 2011, causing a downgrade of our credit rating. Their irresponsibility helped reelect Obama, but they still represent about, oh, 47% of the country. They still have to worry about primary challenges from the right if they cut deals with the guy they’ve described as a socialist tyrant. Maybe a cliff dive or a default would help heighten the contradictions, but they could also trigger an economic meltdown, and presidents are supposed to try to avoid those. A disaster for which the irresponsible opposition is blamed would still be a disaster.

The cliff deal certainly wasn’t optimal. The next deal won’t be, either. Obama will have to make more concessions to the Republican hostage-takers so that we don’t default on our obligations or slide back into recession. But while reasonable people will always be able to disagree about the terms of the deal, perfection will not be an alternative. And as I’ll discuss tomorrow, the progressive utopians who have confused imperfection with betrayal have misunderstood the entire Obama era.

MORE: A Major Political Prediction for 2013

131 comments
destor23
destor23

"...the progressive utopians who have confused imperfection with betrayal have misunderstood the entire Obama era."

How do you know that?  Who are you to pass such judgments?  This is an extremely arrogant claim to make.  Good luck with it.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

"Tomorrow I’ll try to explain why it’s important"

After this well received post I can hardly wait. 


MrObvious
MrObvious

MG

How is this any different from say the fringe right versus GOP establishment?

Not to make any comparison in regards to if one side has a more legit gripe then the other but it's always been so that the more ideological have less fault tolerance. 

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

Please cite liberal "outrage" at the debt ceiling deal. In quotes.

jmac
jmac

Here you go, Grunwald - Jack Lew doesn't believe deregulation lead to the recent financial crisis.  Mr. Lew:  " . . . I don't believe deregulation was the proximate cause."  Is he going to join Klein and say it was little Miss Fanny?  

Pardon me while I throw up and keep my mouth shut on complaining as Obama proves once again he's a Republican on the economy.  Wall Street beams, the banks beam,  Dimon's happy   and the little guy who's going to keep taking the brunt of the fallout this time AND NEXT TIME  - tough luck.  

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

All those guys who predicted a "close horse race" were really taken aback when BO won the presidency without FL weighing in that night!  Republicals missed the boat this time and in two years (let alone four) may miss it yet again.  Their definition of insanity just ain't workin'.

grape_crush
grape_crush

As one of those 'liberals', I don't recall myself 'raging' about the outcome of the fiscal cliff deal. Like you, I thought that it wasn't horrible, but wasn't optimal.

> ...the Obama-bashing disillusionment addicts of the left.

Who, specifically? I'm somewhat tuned in and the best I can say is that the reaction is mixed, not that there's a huge wave of disgust directed at Obama, whose approval ratings are somewhere around 90% among Democrats and 70-80% among self-identified liberals. Sure, you can cherry-pick some commenters who don't like how certain things have been handled or say it's The End of The World, but I don't see that representing the entire liberal sphere, Grunwald. Liberals and moderates can complain and disagree and still not be at war with one another. We're good like that.

> The larger point is that Republicans are going to continue to behave like Republicans, and it’s folly to expect the disapproval of economic elites or ordinary Americans to change that.

It's not what these right wing GOPers do or don't do, Grunwald. It's that the national conversation about policy issues has been largely driven by the hyperventilation and fauxtrage coming from that direction....which needs a counterweight coming from the left, especially considering how deep down the ideological rabbit hole 'conservatism' has fallen. Mediocre, sub-optimal policy would be even worse if there was no one (correctly) arguing that said policy could and should be better.

If there was no one countering the idea of 'death panels' in 2010 or 'Social Security Privatization' in 2005, what exactly do you think would have happened to universal health care - oops, health insurance (remember when that phrasing changed, and why) - or Social Security?

The point is that, although there is a small degree of left-wing hyperventilation out there - how has Obama failed you today - the (again, correct) arguments from the left still need to be said and given consideration.

> The real world doesn’t work like that.

Please save the lectures for your kids, Grunwald. And tell them that the world is what you make of it, unless you want to kill their spirit at a very young age. Time enough for them to learn Scherer-like disillusionment.


nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

"Risking his presidency" was settled last November.  If GG is concerned about BO's effectivemess in his second term a la W's lack thereof, that should've been stated.

jmac
jmac

I only got as far as "the grouches on the left".  Considering the grouches on the right - we are swamped!  Even in Swampland we don't get a break.  Well, it's NOT fair and balanced as Fox and the right continue their diatribe and we are suppose to be pleasant and sane and center right. 

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Please don't pretend like the most vocal and obnoxious of liberal bloggers represent some larger liberal backlash against Obama's efforts.  Just about every level headed liberal - certainly all the ones I know - understand that he's trying his best and he's doing a pretty amazing job considering all the obstacles and obstructions he has to contend with.  There are certainly plenty of things I'd like to see him do sooner or do period (like shut down Gitmo), but I won't lambaste him out of scorn and neglect his other accomplishments.  He's a great President, perhaps the best one for the times we find ourselves in.

jmac
jmac

@sacredh My husband had the flu shot and he is miserably ill with the flu- never have I seen him so sick.  

grape_crush
grape_crush

Ivory Soap Liberal! *points to jmac*

Hush, now. Don't let the imperfect be the enemy of the mediocre.


sacredh
sacredh

It was irritatating when Obama was leading in almost all of the battleground states and the media played up the national numbers instead to try to make it seem like it was close.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@sacredh I'm sorry, does Mr. Frothy get a vote?

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@sacredh 

Don't laugh at the GOP's front man for 2016.

*snicker* No wait never mind, that makes me laugh more.

grape_crush
grape_crush

I am totally looking forward to Santorum being the GOP presidential candidate in 2016.

Preferably with Michelle Bachmann as his choice for Veep.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@sacredh Sweater Vest Dude needs to remember he's no longer in the Senate ...and has to pay for his own kids' schooling and NOT rely on PA folks to foot the bill.

doddeb
doddeb

And everyone knows, in the "real world", we would never discuss gun regulation since that's an automatic non-starter.  Yet, here we are, with Joe Biden discussing these things even with NRA representatives.  Real public policy issues can be discussed, by adults, (and others) if there is the political will.

I don't have issues with the fiscal cliff deal.  We did not see cuts to Social Security or Medicare, and we got most of the tax increase package that we wanted.  That does not mean that I trust the Democrats not to cave on issues that I care about in the future.  And you'd better believe I'll use my voice, with my representatives, to let them know how I feel about it.  Doesn't make me a whining liberal.  Just one that's tired of the 1% always winning.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

@jmac All the long history of Tea Party / George W Bush My-Way-Or-Highway whole-loafism and MG chooses to vent long and hard about the liberals, hard to get a peep out of him about the TP. If we commentariat are the ones who have to carry the load of calling out R's and TP's for their intransigence (okay, some hyperbole, but also some truth), then hire us as bloggers / journos and pay us already.

outsider
outsider

@jmac 

MG kinda covered that here:


Liberals often argue (again, correctly) that the mainstream media is incapable of covering the brazen reality-defiance of the modern Republican Party, that the he-said-she-said conventions of the political press make false equivalence inevitable. I’ve made the same arguments. So what makes them think that if we had careened off the cliff, the MSM would’ve made it clear that the GOP was at fault? It’s true that pre-cliff polls suggested the public was inclined to blame Republicans. But polls in early 2009 suggested it would be politically suicidal for Republicans to try to obstruct a popular new president during an economic emergency; they did anyway, and it helped them regain the House in 2010. And even if the national polls were right about the cliff, so what? Most House Republicans represent districts where standing up to Obama is way more popular than cutting responsible deals.


That's a very good paragraph. It's also illustrating quite clearly, how the media is failing the people who read it, or watch it as well. 


Self-interest first, right?



PerryWhite1
PerryWhite1

@DonQuixotic That's my take as well, Don Q. His Administration is also remarkably scandal-free, at least in comparison to his predecessors. It amuses me when the GOP calls him all sorts of vile names, when he is in fact a very moderate, very moral, very effective president. I guess they'd be happier with Gohmert.

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

@DonQuixotic There is also a difference between saying "I wish obama had pushed harder for -policy here-" and saying "This whole thing sucks!!" I know I'm in the first camp at times, but let's face it-most of us are disappointed by any given president at least once. A little griping is one thing, and pushing another candidate or otherwise working against a candidate is another thing entirely. Sure, obama caves to the nutjobs more than I'd like,. but it's hard to negotiate with the american taliban. 

jitty015
jitty015

@DonQuixotic I think this is probably isn't a reaction to those considered "obnoxious," but to those who are considered to be leading lights of the left's pundit class (see Paul Krugman and Noam Scheiber). Many of these guys have been leading the chorus on the "Obama's weak" and "Obama's selling us out." If you watch MSNBC's weekend morning shows, you'll get even livelier conversation regarding any number of topics on which Obama's insufficient as Chris Hayes and Melissa Harris-Perry invite the Glenn Greenwalds of the world to castigate the sitting President for any number of apostasies.

sacredh
sacredh

It hit me pretty hard too. I'm starting to feel a little better (or else I'm just getting used to feeling like crap), but all of the people I know that got it said it lasts for 2-3 weeks. I've had it for 5 days now.

doddeb
doddeb

@grape_crush:  As one of my professors once told me:  "Anything worth doing well is worth doing half-a$$ed."  Words to live by, I've found.

jmac
jmac

@grape_crush I'd put Obama on Mt Rushmore tomorrow.  In the meantime, he's not up to stuff on the economy and I'd love to be his wife - we know who rules in that household.  

sacredh
sacredh

No vote for Mr. Frothy.

sacredh
sacredh

I voted for Sanitarium in the primary, but that doesn't mean that I liked him. I just wanted Romney to have to keep saying crazy things to weaken himself even further for the general election. If Rick gets the nomination (I can't believe they're even looking at that asswipe) it just makes me want to grab those lunatucs and start shaking them. They keep moving further and further away from rationality.

grape_crush
grape_crush

> And everyone knows, in the "real world", we would never discuss gun regulation since that's an automatic non-starter. 

Right. We shouldn't be limiting our set of possible outcomes simply because we believe them to be out of reach at present. Scherer, of all people, just had a post on predicting how something will turn out where the idea was that a lot of times you just don't know where you'll end up until you actually get there. 

Count Basie once said, “I don’t like to write endings for my music, because music is in a constant state of becoming.”

PaulDirks
PaulDirks

@outsider2011 @jmac It also highlights the paradox of individual districts having severely different views than the nation as a whole. 

Sue_N
Sue_N

@PerryWhite1 @DonQuixotic They'd be happy with Gohmert in the same way Titanic passengers were happy with Captain Smith.

"He was great. Right up until we hit that iceberg.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@jitty015 Yet none of them have "raged." You'll notice that quoted examples of unreasonable arguments from prominent liberals are conspicuously missing from Grunwald's own rant. Quite the reverse.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@jitty015 @DonQuixotic 

I just think it's silly to poke holes in the boat you're riding in, particularly when it's doing a pretty remarkable job of weathering the storm.

jmac
jmac

@sacredh It has to be bad - Texas is offering shots for free to children (a child died last week from it).  Take care.  

MrObvious
MrObvious

@Pollopa 

But this time they will be even more vigil about their message. I mean that was the reason right? The right message didn't go out to enough people? Or maybe it was the message itself?

Pollopa
Pollopa

Really even against Bo the dog we'd get a dem for another 4 years if running against those two, or any of the TP crowd. They just don't pay attention to the world outside their sphere.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@nflfoghorn I have no idea. That'll be interesting, won't it? Let's see how Louie votes when Texas gets battered.

I do know that when this state was burning in 2011, Perry was whining because FEMA wasn't giving him money (it was going to firefighters to help purchase new equipment). I don't remember what Louie was saying. I really try to ignore him when I can.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

The uppity "blah" socialist - heh.

When that next hurricane plows thru his Texas district will that be God's will?

jmac
jmac

@Sue_N @PaulDirks @outsider2011 @jmac  Districts that offer us Gohmerts and Ralph Halls (north of me), Bachmanns, etc., at least only represent a district.  THEN we Texans put Cruz as a senator and all of a sudden the Rand Pauls of the world control a STATE.   It's unbelievable.  

The right has won on every issue that comes down the pike - from gun control, to women's rights (contraceptives for the poor now an issue?), to vouchers that undermine our inner city schools as selected kids get peeled off, to regulations to keep us from repeating the late 20's and the Bush era - it's no contest.  Republicans have won and Democrats are apparently suppose to be happy with whatever crumb comes our way.   After the invasion of Iraq we should all be ashamed - the press that we didn't harass enough most of all.  

Sue_N
Sue_N

@PaulDirks @outsider2011 @jmac In evidence, I offer my district, the 1st Congressional, home of Louie Gohmert. If Louie walked up to Obama and bitch-slapped him, the people here would go wild with joy. He's being celebrated as one of the "Sandy 67." It means nothing that the extremism he embodies actually cuts the throat of this largely rural, very working class district. All that matters is sticking a finger in the eye of the uppity blah socialist who refuses to step aside for his betters.

My sincerest apologies, but Louie will have his seat for as long as he wants it.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@forgottenlord @Sue_N True, but he was the guy who had them steaming along at a fast clip despite all the ice warnings. Though, no, he wasn't solely responsible. There was much blame to be spread around.

And to be fair, he was infinitely more competent at his job than Louie is at his.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@jitty015 @shepherdwong You do realize that, after months of negotiating on the ACA (and practically the same for the first stimulus) the President got zero Republican support. That was after he negotiated away the public option he campaigned on. Look, I give Obama credit for getting Blue Dog support on this stuff and getting it through but if you want to believe that he has Republicans quaking in their boots at the negotiator-in-chief, rather than their Wall Street masters and independent voters, I can't stop you.

jitty015
jitty015

@shepherdwong @jitty015 And here we are: Who exactly isn't taking whom seriously? McConnell and Boehner ultimately helped push through a measure that they did not want to initially: They passed "revenue increases" (what the rest of the world calls "tax increases).

The problem with the debt limit debacle last year is that it seems to blind people to the other negotiations this President has gone through: the battle to pass the Affordable Healthcare Act and his showdown with Republicans at the end of 2010 in which he extracted a second stimulus. That's all set aside for this new conventional wisdom that no one takes this guy seriously. I'm sorry, but as Grunwald points out above, that seems like a sulking position.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@jitty015  Preferably, one negotiates from a position of strength, which is all but lost when no one takes what you say seriously. Seriously.

jitty015
jitty015

@shepherdwong @jitty015 Krugman expects Obama to be unyielding, which isn't exactly how one negotiates. Krugman expected Obama to not present a second offer to the Republican leadership because, as he put it in his response to the, the fiscal cliff was "essentially innocuous". But, Grunwald pretty clearly points out that this does a lot of assuming on the part of Krugman and his fellow travelers about the length of a Republican hold-out if we went over the cliff and the ability of Obama to recover things like long-term unemployment insurance from what would be a thoroughly annoyed Republican caucus. 

I get your point of view on this, but I don't think your description of Grunwald as "overwrought" is as definitive as you'd like it to be. You consider the President as one who "retreats" from positions and looks like he "vacillates". Okay. But Grunwald has argued that that reflects a simplistic view of the stakes of this negotiation and the difficulty of moving legislation through this Congress.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@jitty015  Krugman doesn't expect Obama to be 99.44% pure on anything, he simply expects him to keep to the positions he stakes out, rather than make one retreat after another and looking vacillating (at best). I think Krugman would argue that if the President doesn't plan to hold to a line in the sand that he himself has drawn, don't draw it in the first place. And I hear Krugman and other liberals give Obama credit where credit is due all the time. Like I said, Grunwald's criticism of liberal "outrage" is overwrought, period.

jitty015
jitty015

@shepherdwong @jitty015 I don't think Grunwald sees Krugman and others (of which I'm guessing you're in this camp w/ the good doctor) as making "reasonable criticism of policy." For example, the gist of Krugman's arguments (and I've read every op-ed and blog post he's had on this topic) is that the President went all weak in the knees when he should have stood strong because he had all the leverage. Grunwald says quite clearly above that he doesn't think that's a reasonable position -- there's no guarantee the Republicans would have behaved the way he wanted if he'd "stood strong" and went over the Cliff.

Where you see hyperventilating on the part of Grunwald, I see someone who sincerely believes that this President's left flank never gives him credit for what he does and overestimates the powers he wields given the opposition he faces. And while I believe there are things the President could have done from the outset (e.g. not believing that the miracle of his being would be able to overcome bipartisanship in Washington, DC), I do think his liberal critics can be just as unfair as his conservative detractors (see the Guantanamo closing struggle as an example).

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@jitty015 @shepherdwong According to Grunwald's framing, Krugman and other liberals are frothing idealists who have ridiculous expectations of the President. Instead, it strikes me that it is Grunwald who is doing most of the hyperventilating, in response to what he admits is mostly reasonable criticism of policy.

I figure he figures Carney's time must almost be up and there's no reason lighting can't strike twice in the Swampland.

jitty015
jitty015

@shepherdwong @jitty015 One man's "raged" is another man's "reasonable argument." I think that's the point that Grunwald's making here. Have you taken a stroll through Krugman's blog? Leading up to the Fiscal Cliff deal, he had blog posts entitled "The World's Worst Poker Player" and "Conceder In Chief?" He followed that up with a post giving his perspective on the deal in which he noted:

 "So why the bad taste in progressives’ mouths? It has less to do with where Obama ended up than with how he got there. He kept drawing lines in the sand, then erasing them and retreating to a new position. And his evident desire to have a deal before hitting the essentially innocuous fiscal cliff bodes very badly for the confrontation looming in a few weeks over the debt ceiling."

I believe, according to Grunwald's framing, that this would put Krugman squarely in pollyannish Ivory Soap camp.