Obama fights back in press conference

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 07: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the White House briefing room December 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama held a news conference after he had announced a deal with Republicans to temporarily extend Bush-era tax cuts to all tax levels. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Everyone seems to have an opinion about President Obama’s press conference yesterday. It depends of course, on how one views his tax cut deal. I think he made the best possible deal, and he left enough time for a real push for START and DADT.

Liberals are furious, and we’re getting the usual hysteria from many on the left. The usual suspects like Olbermann, Maddow and Schultz funneled the anger as usual, though others like Chris Matthews and Lawrence O’Donnell argued that the President struck a good deal.

I liked seeing Obama take on his critics, particularly those who consistently let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Here are some of the highlights:

So this notion that somehow we are willing to compromise too much reminds me of the debate that we had during health care. This is the public option debate all over again. So I pass a signature piece of legislation where we finally get health care for all Americans, something that Democrats had been fighting for, for a hundred years – but because there was a provision in there that they didn’t get, that would have affected maybe a couple million people, even though we got health insurance for 30 million people, and the potential for lower premiums for a hundred million people, that somehow that was a sign of weakness and compromise.

Now, if that’s the standard by which we are measuring success or core principles, then let’s face it, we will never get anything done. People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position, and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves, and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are. And in the meantime the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out. That can’t be the measure of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat.
***

“This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door of this country’s founding,” he later added. “And you know, if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a Union.

Towards the end, he declared: “I don’t think there’s a single Democrat out there, who if they looked at where we started when I came into office and look at where we are now, would say that somehow we have not moved in the direction that I promised. Take a tally, look at what I promised during the campaign. There’s not a single thing that I said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I have not gotten it done yet, I’m still trying to do it.”

The left needs a wake-up call. Of course we can have heated debate, but name-calling and silly calls for a primary challenge are ridiculous.

Krugman won’t side with the Bill Killers

Paul Krugman is asking progressives to take a deep breath.

There’s enormous disappointment among progressives about the emerging health care bill — and rightly so. That said, even as it stands it would take a big step toward greater security for Americans and greater social justice; it would also save many lives over the decade ahead. That’s why progressive health policy wonks — the people who have campaigned for health reform for years — are almost all in favor of voting for the thing.
*****
By all means denounce Obama for his failed bipartisan gestures. By all means criticize the administration. But don’t take it out on the tens of millions of Americans who will have health insurance if this bill passes, but will be out of luck — and, in some cases, dead — if it doesn’t.

The hysteria gripping the progressive movement is out of control, capped by Keith Olbermann’s melodramatic comment last night. Get a grip, keep negotiating, and pass a bill.

Related Posts