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Nevermind that the deal alienated his liberal base; there’s no clear alternative Democrat to run against him.
Perhaps more likely is a bid by an independent _ maybe
Enter Obama’s dealmaking with Republicans and criticism of Democrats, moves seemingly intended to try to reclaim that territory as he casts himself as a pragmatic president putting people above politics.
“We will never get anything done” if Democrats are unwilling to bend and liberals insist on ideal positions, Obama said Tuesday, staunchly defending the deal and passionately countering fellow Democrats’ complaints that he compromises too much on their core issues.
“People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people,” Obama said. “And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are.” In the meantime, he said, Americans will suffer.
“That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat,” he added.
And with that, Obama started positioning himself as the president first, and the country’s top Democrat second.
The move could play well with disillusioned independent voters, who were critical to his victory in 2008 and will be again in his 2012 re-election race.
There’s no doubt that tax cuts will be a central campaign issue, though, for now, would-be Republican opponents have been virtually silent on them.
Under the deal
Obama promised as much, saying, “I will fight.”
He wants to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans; Republicans insist on keeping the cuts in place for everyone permanently. In the end, Obama agreed to a temporary extension of the tax cuts for all while the
The president previewed the debate ahead in 2012 by likening Republicans to “hostage-takers” willing to hurt the great majority of Americans to extend tax cuts for millionaires.
“On the Republican side, this is their Holy Grail,” Obama said, adding: “It seems to be their central economic doctrine.”
Conversely, he cast Democrats as the party of middle class protectors, foreshadowing a campaign of populist pitches and class warfare.
The compromise signals more likely to come as Obama courts the fickle center of the electorate.
He’s essentially betting that Democrats ultimately will fall in line behind him _ and hoping that no serious Democratic challenger emerges, much less a serious third-party candidate.
Liberals disappointed with Obama have been clamoring for someone of their ilk _ like
Still, in a sign of potential vulnerabilities, a new poll by the
Obama’s troubles are most acute among independents, and that _ if ignored _ could give an opening to someone who rejects both parties.
Bloomberg’s aides insist he’s not running. But he sounded every bit the candidate Tuesday when he criticized lawmakers from both parties for having “abdicated their responsibility.” He’s also taking steps to raise his national profile; he is to appear on “Meet the Press” on Sunday and attend the launch of a new group called No Labels that’s courting disillusioned members of both parties.
Obama hopes he can win back independents and thwart a third-party challenge.
Independents rallied behind him strongly during his presidential campaign, embracing his calls for a solutions-oriented
Obama also infuriated fellow Democrats who felt he didn’t hold true to their core principles. They balked, for example, when the health care law didn’t include a government-run insurance option.
Now, he’s angered labor by calling for a freeze on federal wages. He also has insisted that the
No doubt earning props from independents, Obama struck back Tuesday at liberal critics.
“Take a tally,” Obama said. “Look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I’ve said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven’t gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.”
He continued: “To my Democratic friends, what I’d suggest is let’s make sure that we understand this is a long game. This is not a short game. And to my Republican friends, I would suggest, I think this is a good agreement. Because I know that they’re swallowing some things that they don’t like as well.”
He offered no words to independents.
Instead, he let his compromise do the talking.
EDITOR’S NOTE _