Obama got rolled by the GOP

There is one point of growing agreement between the left and right: this president is a lousy poker player, with no love for the tough-minded gamesmanship of high-stakes negotiations. He believes in reasoning together, even with unreasonable people. This honorable approach leaves him liable to get rolled.

“If you’re going to fold, fold fast,” said a source familiar with internal White House economic strategy. “There could have been a better version of this deal in the fall.” In fact, the core of the White House’s framework closely resembles the proposal floated by former Obama OMB director Peter Orszag in his controversial first column for the New York Times, which was dismissed as naïve and disloyal by his former colleagues at the time…

In the end, the president justifies his high-minded compromises with the hope that they will strengthen the economy while inspiring good faith negotiations. He is trying to lead by example. The president says correctly that “We cannot play politics at a time when the American people are looking for us to solve problems.” But his opponents are playing remorseless politics, and this leaves Obama at a tactical disadvantage. He is by nature a bridge-builder and the margins keep getting moved as he strains to make a deal. This is partly the legacy of electing a legislator as president instead of someone with executive experience. It is also an argument for bringing advisors with business backgrounds into the White House.