Realpolitik #9 – Obama Takes A Hint

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article by Karl Rove, former political advisor to George W. Bush, entitled ‘From Post-Partisan to Most Partisan.’ Catchy title, yes, but I think it may be Rove who has his partisan blinders on, not Obama. While Rove tries to rally against Obama’s ‘leftward policy march,’ the President himself is showing signs that he has recognised the imperative for bipartisan consensus that will shape his next two years in office, and determine whether voters give him a second term in office.

Congress is on the verge of approving an extension to the Bush era tax cuts, cuts totalling over $800 billion. Not too long ago, Obama was arguing against the cuts from the highest tax bracket, arguing that there were better ways to spend the money than giving the funds back to the already super-rich. However, as the lame duck session draws to a close and Republicans begin to increase the pressure on Obama to abandon his policies that lean toward socialism, he has shown a willingness to compromise if it provides him a political gain.

The package itself, however, was negotiated between Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice-President Joe Biden. Biden is one of the more conservative Democratic congressmen, and by delegating the negotiations to him, Obama is perhaps extending the warm hand of bipartisanship to his Republican opposition;  it will be interesting to see whether the two parties do engage in genuine bipartisan discourse, or the upcoming election cycle is once again tarnished by negative smear campaigns with little elucidated in the way of solid policy.

Joe Biden gets the job done for Barack.

Approving the tax cuts could be a fantastic move for Obama. Firstly, it shows that he understands where he went wrong in the previous two years, and that he’s trying to correct himself. Furthermore, by accepting the tax cuts the ball is now in the Republican’s court. They can’t start criticising him for approving them when they’ve been agitating for the cuts for a long time. If Obama continues to look for bipartisan consensus then things can only get better, especially if the economy starts to recover. Publicly, he will look like a man willing to compromise in the best interests of his nation, and after all that is what the President’s job is; to achieve the national interest.

Left-wing bloggers and journalists think that Obama is doing the wrong thing – Paul Krugman of the New York Times is one of Obama’s more vocal critics when it comes to the tax cuts. Those from the right will argue that the Republicans were right all along, and Obama only now realises that he should have followed their advice rather than trying to plough on with his own plan. At the end of the day, however, neither of these assessments will matter. What will matter is whether Obama’s domestic policy results in an economic upturn. If that happens, then come November 2012 Obama will win again and all will be well in the Democratic establishment.

Here’s hoping.


I’m heading overseas for 5 weeks later today, and consequently I doubt I’ll be doing much blogging in that time. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all, I’ll probably be back sometime in late January or early February. Peace!


About Rage
Australian student with interests in music, film, literature, politics, pop culture and more.

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