Is President Barack Obama taking the country’s political middle — both by choice and by what is occurring with both political parties? There are increasing signs he is given how he is under fire from right and left and from Democrats and Republicans. Here are just a few tidbits that indicate his increasingly middle-of-the-road status.
*The Daily Beast’s John Avlon on Obama’s budget:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall catch hell from both sides.”
So said a sign on the Justice Department wall of Burke Marshall at the height of the civil rights era. But it could also apply to President Obama’s new budget, finally offered up two months late and on the heels of competing Democratic Senate and House Republican proposals.
But this budget is not like all the others. It is not a positional bargaining document, designed simply to rally the base at the outset of negotiations. One way you can tell is that liberal activists and congressmen are already screaming “sellout” at the White House for offering Social Security reform as part of a balanced plan to reduce the deficit and debt.
The Republican response so far has been crickets, and that throat clearing you hear in the distance might just be a recalibration before another reflexive “tax and spend liberal” attack on the president.
But resorting to the same old bumper sticker is going to strain credulity when the president is catching hell from real socialists like Sen. Bernie Sanders, who declared that “I am terribly disappointed and will do everything in my power to block President Obama’s proposal to cut benefits for Social Security recipients.”
“The first sign it’s a good plan or at least a step in the right direction is that Obama is getting hell from both sides,” says former Bush and McCain strategist Mark McKinnon, a fellow Daily Beast columnist and No Labels co-founder. “If they’re not barking, then the proposal has no teeth and ain’t biting.”
By offering entitlement reform through the cost-of-living formula adjustment for future retirees sonorously known as “Chained CPI,” saving almost $125 billion over the next decade while exempting the most elderly and impoverished seniors, the White House is formalizing offers made in negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner in the past, putting them down in the black-and-white of the proposed budget.
*The AP’s Liz Sidoti notices the trend:
He wants to slash funding for the Democratic sacred cows of Social Security and Medicare. He doesn’t agree with a judge and women’s rights groups that girls of any age should have easy access to emergency contraception. He has hinted that he may disappoint environmentalists by letting the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline be built.
And, to varying degrees, President Barack Obama seems to be going middle-of-the-road on everything from gun control to immigration reform to drone policy, much to the annoyance of many Democratic activists and liberal lawmakers.
Go to the link to read it all.
*Note the cartoon above by Cagle Cartoon’s Daryl Cagle. Political cartoons are good in picking up trends and displaying conventional wisdom. The cartoon captures where Obama is in today’s politics.
*The buzz on liberal talk shows. Last week I drove from San Diego, CA to Merced, CA to Sacramento, CA, Dublin CA, and finally San Francisco, CA and then down. I listened to a LOT of right wing and left wing talk. Right wing talk clearly focused on Obama as a kind of radical. But it was the left wing callers on talk shows (left and right) on AM and XM radio who were the most fascinating. Some were extremely angry at Barack Obama for his budget and still talking about him not going the public option. One caller typified the Democrat’s historical problem and Achilles heel which partially explains why Democrats dropped the ball over the years on the Supreme Court and lost their majority on the court.
This caller said — no surprise here — that if Obama caves more on issues such as social security then maybe it would be time doing what many Demcorats did in 2010 (yes he said this) and stay home.
So once again some liberal Democrats response is that if they don’t get all they want they’ll stay home in 2014. Again allowing the GOPers flooding to the polls to sweep their party to victory in Congress, perhaps win states with vulnerable Republican govenors, get the power to gerrymander, and be in a stronger position to check-mate a Democratic President or Democrat’s majority’s legislation. Perhaps even win both houses of Congress and be able to repeal Obamacare. The Democrats’ “Why, I’ll teach my party a lesson — and help elect Republicans” attitude may not be totally out there, but it’s most assuredly out there and back.
Of course, GOPers looking to raise money and talk show hosts and Fox News will continue to paint Obama as a far left liberal and socialist who secretly sneeks into a room to study the Communist Manifesto. Members of the Democratic Party’s left will continue to say he has “caved” — saying someone “caved” in 21st century American usually means they compromised with the other side in the interest of getting a policy in place that can benefit the country, no matter how big or small the benefit may be.
American political history has proven that there IS a political center in America. And Obama — by choice or political geography — increasingly seems to be in it.