President Obama at the National Christmas Tree lighting (Mark Wilson/Getty Images).

President Obama, writes Charles Krauthammer in his column today, is playing pure politics with the fiscal cliff. More than getting what the president says he wants, he wants to win. And to that end, he’s been willing to rebuff concessions from the Republican-led House of Representatives to grind down their resistance to him. It would be pretty shocking, if it weren’t, you know, politics.  

This is a point commenters seize upon.  Aren’t both sides playing politics?  

jameschirico thinks so.  A plan championed by the Republicans cuts entitlements more than it does anything about the deficit:

The Ryan budget although it cuts 2 trillion from entitlements the first decade, gives the same and more away to the [rich], increasing the debt by a trillion dollars. It does not balance the books using very high growth projections until 2040. It sends future seniors into bankruptcy with no premium support when they hit 80 and needing more care, making health insurance impossible for them to buy. The path to prosperity is a road to perdition. Holding the middle class tax cut hostage, hitting seniors is DOA publicly.  
The president may have only won by 3%, but as far as tax increases for the rich, the public favors that  2-1.

kitchendragon50 also contends that Obama is more concerned with who is paying the taxes rather than how much is raised:

It has always been ideological with Obama. He insists on raising rates on high earners, not revenues but rates. No other method is acceptable. He insists rates be more progressive. It has absolutely nothing to do with our debt and deficit. The past four years clearly demonstrated his unconcern for that problem.
Raising the top rate from 35% to 39.6% will generate $80 billion. Maintaining his payroll tax “holiday” will cost $110 billion. Obamamath at its finest.

cdierd1944 says that if Obama is playing politics, he’s picked a game he can win:  

 Polls clearly show that the public supports tax increases for the rich, and will blame Republicans if we go over the cliff. No, tax increases for the rich will not TOTALLY solve the fiscal problem, but it will go a long way to getting the nation where we need to be. We elected Obama as president, and the more lucid Republicans have figured that out and are starting to act accordingly.

Bosworth2 agrees, but isn’t convinced the game’s loser will be the political opposition:

It’s politics. Pure and simple.  If the Republicans allow the Democrats to push us over the so-called “cliff” then, the Democrats get all their taxes back.  If the Republicans come up with a counterproposal that essentially reinstates the taxes, Democrats win again.  It’s just Democratic strong-arming (in the name of “bipartisanship” no less).   
Of course, we the American public will be the hapless victims here, not the Republicans.

And cjd260 says if anyone’s playing politics, it’s Krauthammer, by holding different presidents to different standards.  After President Bush’s reelection, Krauthammer thought he should get what he wanted:

Krauthammer on Obama’s reelection by 332 electoral votes to 206, winning by nearly 5 million popular votes: “So this is not a mandate in the number, or in the way that he campaigned… He won by going very small, very negative.”
Krauthammer on Bush’s reelection by 286 electoral votes to 252, winning by 3 million popular votes: “I think it was a huge issue that the president was weak in his first term. He had less of the power and strength and capital, as he speaks of, than he does today. And now that he’s been elected with a large majority, or a significant majority, and with a mandate, I think part of that mandate is to get the right judges, by his likes.”

Hmm!  But PostScript does feel like pointing out George Bush did NOT get the right judges by his likes, or at least not all of them.  Mandates, PostScript might say, are the most dangerous game.