Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The President's Human Shields

Like the smart kid beset by schoolyard bullies, Barack Obama is turning to wonkish jocks for protection.

Leaks from The Speech reveal he will be relying on his Commission on Deficit Reduction and perhaps Congress' Gang of Six for bipartisan cover but also raise a question: If the President is taking a centrist stance against Republican extremism, who speaks for those who take a (dirty word alert) Liberal position? Where are the champions of what used to be a major view in American politics?

As Ezra Klein points out, Obama's failure to cite the Commission earlier has shifted the ground of the deficit debate to "a compromise between a centrist plan like Simpson-Bowles and a hardline conservative plan like Ryan’s, that’s not going to produce something Democrats are happy with, and Obama will be blamed for not taking the initiative and forcing everyone to simply consider Simpson-Bowles when he had a chance."

On the heels of the President's apparent tower-of-jello posture comes word that the Gang of Six is ready to follow up with its own compromised version of the Deficit Commission's proposals.

When Barack Obama took office, did anyone dream that a major issue now would be a debate over how and when to dismantle Medicare?

The only ray of hope in all this is an expression of overwhelming public disgust over last week's shutdown charade with voters calling the spectacle “disgusting,” “frustrating,” “messy,” “disappointing” and “stupid.”

If the President hides behind bipartisan human shields this week, the adjectives are not likely to turn more positive.

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