Barack Obama’s political strategy in working to a compromise on the tax hikes scheduled for January 1st seemed pretty clear. Obama could claim that he worked across the aisle with newly-resurgent Republicans, provided calm and cool leadership, and reached a deal in which no one got everything they wanted but the country benefited from the agreement. That was before Obama held his press conference. The political strategy afterward appears to argue that, er, Obama will cave to terrorists and “hostage takers“:
I’ve said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed. Then people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people and I was not willing to see them get harmed.
Put aside, for the moment, Obama’s equating normal political negotiation with terrorism and kidnapping. If that’s really the guiding principle of Obama’s administration, it sends a big green light to terrorists around the world, and a couple of rogue regimes as well. Threaten to harm the “hostages” and Obama will cave, as long as you can stand being called names afterward.
Now, as far as demonization goes, it also sends a message — a curious blend of petulance, impotence, and capitulation. Let’s call it capitulance. In demonstrating it, Obama gives up forever his ability to spin this as any sort of victory for him, and practically writes the meme that Republicans while in the minority managed to kick his butt, and good. That’s not just amateurish, it’s bizarre, and calls into question any notion that Obama has any real political skills or instincts at all.
Update: A few people have suggested “capetulance” rather than “capitulance,”, but as I explained on Twitter, this way both words give up something. Otherwise, “petulance” is just a hostage taker, or something.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!