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President Lashes Out at the Left: “This Country Was Founded on Compromise”

I basically knew everything the President said in his press conference today, but let’s parse a bit of it:

1) The tax cut deal is going down in flames specifically because of Democrats. You would think that a Democratic President wouldn’t have to call out his own party if he didn’t need the votes.

2) The President is still very ticked off about the public option. He thinks he was right in negotiating it away in order to move forward on health care, and everyone who criticizes him for that is an irresponsible idealist.

3) The “This country was founded on compromise” line was kind of funny. Because he just got done saying that the Republicans view tax cuts as their Holy Grail and won’t budge on it, so… he moved to them. The Republicans, then, don’t get the brunt of that broadside about the essential importance of compromise, because THEY DIDN’T COMPROMISE TO GET THE MAIN THING THAT THEY WANTED. Democrats, however, are excoriated because they don’t look enough at the big picture. What the President doesn’t understand, or doesn’t want to understand, is that the Bush tax cuts are as foundational an issue for the left as he understands they are for the right. Or perhaps, he knows that he has leverage over the left that he doesn’t have over the right, and so he uses different standards for each.

4) Obama says that this wasn’t a road map to how to beat him politically, and that things will be different when this comes up again in 2012. Also, on the debt limit, he expects John Boehner to be very responsible and not extract concessions from him in exchange for that vote. Hilarious!

Anyway, despite knowing that the President on down in the White House felt this way, I can’t help but be a little taken aback by this display. He did just about everything but say, “and you know what else, Sista Souljah was a bad rapper!”

UPDATE: Greg Sargent has the full transcript:

This notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans. Something that Democrats have been fighting for for a hundred years. But because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get, that would have effected maybe a couple of million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for maybe 100 million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness, of compromise.

If that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it: We will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position, and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are.

And in the meantime the American people are still saying to themselves, [I’m] not able to get health insurance because of pre-existing conditions. Or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out. That can’t be the measure of how we think about public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat. This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people…

This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door at this country’s founding. If we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a union.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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