Obama’s speech, “laying out his plan to reduce the deficit,” seemed to make a lot of liberals happy, or happier than they thought they’d be. Rachel Maddow, for example, praised the speech “for defining Democratic values, defending social programs, and confronting Republicans.” The plan even had Paul Krugman in sort of a swoon:
Substance: Much better than many of us feared. … It relies on letting the Bush tax cuts for the rich expire — finally! — plus unspecified reductions in tax expenditures. … Overall, way better than the rumors and trial balloons. I can live with this.
Krugman did have a second thought: “I should probably say, I could live with this as an end result” — an anxious reference, of course, to inevitable compromises and an implicit lament about Obama’s notorious habit of … let’s see … giving away the store, negotiating with himself, caving in.
But Glenn Greenwald is having none of it. He writes that he experiences “cognitive dissonance” whenever liberal pundits lament that “Obama isn’t pursuing the right negotiating tactics, that he’s not being as shrewd as he should be.” On the contrary:
He’s pursuing exactly the right negotiating tactics and is being extremely shrewd — he just doesn’t want the same results that these liberal pundits want and which they like to imagine the President wants, too. He’s not trying to prevent budget cuts or entitlement reforms; he wants exactly those things because of how politically beneficial they are to him — to say nothing of whether he agrees with them on the merits. [boldface added]
When I first began blogging five years ago, I used to write posts like that all the time. I’d lament that Democrats weren’t more effectively opposing Bush/Cheney National Security State policies or defending civil liberties. I’d attribute those failures to poor strategizing or a lack of political courage and write post after post urging them to adopt better tactics to enable better outcomes or be more politically “strong.” But then I realized that they weren’t poor tacticians getting stuck with results they hated. They simply weren’t interested in generating the same outcomes as the ones I wanted.
Here’s the speech: