Refine & Enlarge
The president must have thought that distancing himself from left and right would make him more attractive to the center. But you get credit for going to the center only if you say the centrist position you've just embraced is right. If you suggest, as the president did, that the seemingly moderate plan you agreed to is awful and you'll try to rescind it in two years, you won't leave the center thinking, "He's our guy!" You'll leave them thinking, "Note to self: Remove Obama in two years."I think it is revealing to the point--almost--of obscenity that Obama chose that particular moment to chastise his base. Watching it, you get the sense, almost of having walked in on a private conversation that you were not meant to overhear. It is remarkably aloof and abstract and distant--directed almost over your head, as if you were a bug crawling on the floor. It is especially to be noted when you combine that outburst at the left with the utter dismissive contempt he demonstrated for Republicans (e.g., tax cuts for the wealthy are their "holy grail"!?). It shows that he is only open to arguments and sensitive to criticism coming at him from his left flank. This--and this alone--was the knife that cut at him. His left flank is the only place where he imagines real political conversation happens. And you will note, too, what "political conversation" looks like. It is not about the ends. It is ONLY about the means. It is about what is possible and how to accomplish it. This reveals that he does not believe that serious debate about the nature and meaning of justice in American politics is either possible or legitimate. He does not consider his political opponents to be potential friends or, even, fellow citizens. They are, alternately, "terrorists" or "enemies" or now "hostage takers." It ought to go without saying, but I cannot let it pass without remarking that this is an utterly despicable way for a President of the United States to address himself to the people.