If life were a Frank Capra movie, Barack Obama would have looked across the table at Mitch McConnell and said, “OK, Turtle Face, I’ll take this issue to the people and lay out the facts. You’re trying to blackmail Democrats. You’re holding jobless people hostage for the sake of the super-rich.”
Unfortunately, real life is the depressing spectacle of Obama being bitch-slapped by Republicans in November and bowing to their wishes a few weeks later, after they finally agreed to meet with him. It’s the non-spectacle of him slinking away in the name of compromise at exactly the times he should be asserting himself.
Real life is Obama appearing at a press conference and scolding the people who elected him instead of at community meetings, in front of voters, excoriating Republicans for pretending to care about the deficit while seeking an extension of Bush’s bonus tax cuts. It’s Obama sounding just like a Republican, promising that extended tax cuts will create three million jobs, even though some of these cuts have been in place for almost a decade — a decade in which Americans have been losing jobs at unprecedented rates.
Real life is Obama’s minions saying that tax deal was good “under the circumstances,” without adding that the president created the circumstances by not fighting the extensions months ago. By not going directly to the people with his arguments, as Harry Truman or any principled Democrat would have done.
Real life is Obama proving beyond a doubt that the Democratic establishment, which includes him and most Congressional Democrats, doesn’t represent the interests of the people any more than Republicans do. It’s confirmation that his “Yes we can” slogan really meant “No we can’t” as in no, we can’t stop big business and Wall Street from robbing us.
The only question now is whether the enigmatic Obama is merely an eloquent fool or a super-sly front man for the robbers. His continued reliance on the opinions and judgments of corrupt Wall Streeters such as Lawrence Summers feeds suspicion that the latter is true.