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False Dichotomy


I’m not a generally a big fan of trying to determine what public officials “really want,” not least because there’s no way of extricating policy goals from political goals and perceptions of political viability. But I certainly agree in broad terms that Obama is a moderate Democrat of the Clinton school who cares inordinately about the deficit and would accept spending cuts to advance deficit cutting.

But it doesn’t follow from this that Obama didn’t blunder. After all, (as Glenn quietly concedes) he didn’t get much of a deficit-reduction bill; he got some spending cuts but not the revenue increases he wanted. The deal that he accepted addressed Republican priorities, not moderate Democratic priorities. It’s entirely possible to understand that Obama isn’t a left-winger and still think that he made negotiating mistakes that produced an even worse deal than was necessary.

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