The campaign is over. Barack Obama has already won the last election he will ever run. Why, then, did he use his speech about the potential for a fiscal cliff deal to take jabs at Congress in general and the Republicans in particular?
Had he said nothing at all, the chances would have been higher that the deal would have been done before the deadline. Had he come out, put his ego in check, and urged Congress to complete an historic bi-partisan deal against all odds with time ticking off the clock, there is a strong likelihood that something would have passed, even if only a temporary fix. Humility and support were in order today, not the “remarks that needled Republicans and resembled a victory lap,” as Reuters put it even before the deal collapsed.
A speech like this would have been in appropriate a week ago. It could have been used to pressure Congress into actions that neither side really wanted but that the country needed. Instead, he hurt the cause by being his normal self, egotistical and counter-productive.
What came out of his mouth was 10 minutes of the standard “I” and “me” that has become a trademark of his speeches over the years. He threw jabs at the Republicans. He gloated over their willingness to see it his way regarding raising taxes on wealthy Americans despite vowing to never do so just a month ago. In short, he took an opportunity to handle the situation with class and instead stuck his foot in his own mouth now that the deadline has come and gone.
A deal of some sort will likely be done this week. It’s far from guaranteed and the President’s remarks hurt those chances tremendously. He has lost support from many in his own party and is pushing further away from Republicans who have shown a willingness to bend (perhaps too far) on the ideology that could fix the situation more easily but that would not get the support necessary from the Senate or the White House.
The free world is looking at our leadership and shaking their heads in pity and disdain.
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