I was kind of tied-up with outside-the-office matters last night and this morning, but to the extent that I was thinking about politics, I was brooding about the dilemma that President Obama finds himself in. It's been pretty rare for me to feel too much sympathy for the 44th president recently; it's felt like there are basically two kinds of Obama policies: Bad ones (staying in Afghanistan, state secrets and state spying, transparency in government, and more) and decent ones (ending unfair tax breaks for the wealthy and their corporate jets) that he doesn't push forcefully enough.
Well. Obama did get more forceful at his news conference yesterday. He made the case for eliminating tax breaks for millionaires, hedge fund managers, corporate jet owners and oil companies, and he made it as well as he could. But then you realize, at the end of the day, what difference will it make what Obama's tone is (other than it's more emotionally satisfying when his posture is more aggressive)? When he's weak or conciliatory, a majority of House Republicans and a filibuster-proof minority in the Senate will oppose ending any tax break, no matter how reasonable or politically popular. And when the president speaks forcefully and goes over the head of Congress to the American people...the outcome is still going to be exactly the same.
It's kind of hopeless.
So what did yesterday's Obama performance prove? in the end. It only proved the the Beltway pundit crowd will savage Obama for weeks upon end for being weak or tepid, until he speaks up, in whuch case he's... Well, apparently, he's a (bleep). In a bizarre episode that's getting a lot of attention -- and, for a change, should be getting attention because it makes a much bigger point -- MSNBCer and ultimate Washington lamestream pundit Mark Halperin has been suspended from the network for calling Obama, in the wake of his news confernce, a euphemism for the male sex organ.
In a world where lameness is the order of the day, Halperin -- described, quite accurately, as "the Drudge-living pundit who gets everything wrong" -- is practically in a league by himself. Still, Halperin's behavor typlifies the attitude of the broader D.C. "intelligensia"; for them, Obama's choices are to weakly articulate progressive principles and be Jimmy Carter-esque, or to forcefully articulate them as liberal stalwarts like Franklin "I welcome their hatred" Roosevelt did on occasion, and thus act like a (bleep), The only victory for Obama with Mark Halperins and the "Morning Joe" crowds of the world is became a Great Conciliator -- by adopting 100-percent Republican positions on the economy and every other issue.