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Tue Jan 1, 2013, 12:49 AM

"On the Fiscal Cliff, Obama Does What He Can Against 200 Years of Bad Faith"

On the Fiscal Cliff, Obama Does What He Can Against 200 Years of Bad Faith
by Michael Tomasky Jan 1, 2013 4:45 AM EST
The fiscal-cliff impasse has its roots in—where else?—the old South, with its lunatic blend of obstructionism and greed at the public trough, writes Michael Tomasky.


While most liberals were stewing at Barack Obama yesterday for his “capitulation” on tax rates, I confess that I was feeling philosophical about it, and even mildly defensive of him. He is negotiating with madmen, and you can’t negotiate with madmen, because they’re, well, mad. I also spent part of yesterday morning re-reading a little history and reminding myself that rascality like this fiscal cliff business has been going on since the beginning of the republic. So now I’d like to remind you. It’s always the reactionaries holding up the progressives—and usually, needless to say, it’s been the South holding up the North—and always with the same demagogic and dishonest arguments about a tyrannical central government. We’ll never be rid of these paranoid bloviators, and if no other president could stop them I don’t really see why Obama ought to be able to.

-snip-
Thus could California become a state in 1850, and a free one, but only provided that the Northern states accept a much strengthened Fugitive Slave Act, which non-slave states had tried to challenge (a reactionary Supreme Court ruled with the South in 1842), and provided that the federal government assume Texas’s crushing debt. Thus did we get Bleeding Kansas, the little precursor to the Civil War. And so on and so on.

-snip-
What unites all these movements are pretty much the same motives that drive today’s right wing: hatred of government and taxation, constant (and almost always baseless) fear that a central authority is going to rob their liberty, and so on. They are bound together also by a kind of psychology and mindset, a conviction that they represent the good simple folk while their opponents speak for the shifty and the shiftless.

-snip-
So I’m feeling for Obama. A number of presidents have had to deal with this kind of behavior, and most haven’t done it very well. If Obama can actually get the kind of deal he discussed at his brief presser on New Year’s Eve afternoon—higher tax rates at $400,000 and up, a higher estate tax rate, an extension of unemployment benefits, and a delay in the sequester—he will have done all right. Liberals who think he should just stand tough because he “holds all the cards” aren’t recognizing two important things. First, he simply doesn’t hold all the cards. The Republicans control the House, and they have enough to block in the Senate. Where I come from, those are cards, and serious ones. Second, they aren’t remembering that his opponents draw on and are part of this nation’s long and often tragic history of people who represent an obsolescing minority viewpoint but do so all the more tenaciously precisely because they secretly know the viewpoint to be both of those things. We will never be rid of them. Obama is having to cross swords with a particularly intense concentration of the type, and right now, he’s doing all right.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/01/01/on-the-fiscal-cliff-obama-does-what-he-can-against-200-years-of-bad-faith.html

14 replies, 1353 views

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Reply "On the Fiscal Cliff, Obama Does What He Can Against 200 Years of Bad Faith" (Original post)
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 OP
frazzled Jan 2013 #1
Cha Jan 2013 #2
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #3
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #4
DevonRex Jan 2013 #5
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #6
DevonRex Jan 2013 #12
TwilightGardener Jan 2013 #7
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #8
lovemydog Jan 2013 #9
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #10
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #11
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #13
Pirate Smile Jan 2013 #14

Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 01:00 AM

1. Most sensible article of 2013

I know people think that Obama, if he wanted to use his superpowers, could be faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound ... that he could bend Republicans like a bar of steel, or that he "holds all the cards." I hope this article portends a more rational view about the true situation in Washington.

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 01:10 AM

2. Hey Pirate Smile.. HAPPY NEW YEAR 2013!

Thank you for Michael Tomasky's view.. Very interesting historical points in making his case.


Mitch McConnell might cut a deal with Joe Biden (he might have done so by the time you read this). But don’t forget, even if he does agree to something, and even if it does get through the Senate, it then goes to the House, where all these historic resentments fester and boil. They are not now limited to the South, but the region remains their locus (think of it this way: If those 11 states of the Confederacy somehow weren’t around, we’d obviously be having no such fights).

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Response to Cha (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 01:15 AM

3. Happy New Year! I think sometimes we forget how we've had to deal with these hostage takers for a

long time. The post-WWII Congresses that worked together were probably the exception, not the rule.

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 02:48 AM

4. Kick

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 02:52 AM

5. This says it all.

Thank you.

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Response to DevonRex (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 03:38 AM

6. This country was founded on crappy compromises.

I think that often gets forgotten.

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Response to Pirate Smile (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 03:22 PM

12. yeah it was

Horrible, inhuman compromises. People really need to remember that. I'm from Mississippi originally. I can never forget. People really ought to read the Mississippi Declaration of Secession. They might get a little insight into the things some people still glorify.

I would recommend that people read "A Rose For Emily" and then go see "Django". And pay attention to the sister,s character, her place in the scheme of things. It's quite enlightening. And it's something that has always bothered me as a woman.

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 03:46 AM

7. Good read, thanks.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 08:36 AM

8. You're welcome. n/t

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 10:39 AM

9. Excellent article

on history of obstructionism. Thanks for sharing.

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Response to lovemydog (Reply #9)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 10:57 AM

10. It needs to be spread far & wide.

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 02:28 PM

11. Kick

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Tue Jan 1, 2013, 05:46 PM

13. Kick

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Response to Pirate Smile (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:59 AM

14. Kick

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