An unsmiling President Obama, alone at a podium in the Rose Garden, with only the press corps present, delivered the equivalent of a campaign speech after Senate passage of the debt-ceiling bill. He sounded, as is his wont these days, defensive. He obviously was pitching to his disgruntled base. He only briefly referred to “a long and contentious debate,” recognizing it as an “important first step to ensuring we live within our means.” From there it was catnip for the left. He touted the room still left in the budget for more domestic “investment.” He insisted that he’d get his “balanced approach” with plenty of tax hits to “billionaires and oil companies.”
The remainder was a windy harangue on everything BUT the debt-ceiling bill. He insisted, “We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work.” But he's been saying that for more than two years. His laundry list of items (unemployment benefits, infrastructure bank, trade deals, etc.) hasn't changed one iota. Certainly, his cynicism hasn’t. For months Republicans in the Senate have been pleading for completion of the trade deals. He and his Democratic allies have dragged their heels.
If nothing else, the president’s words confirmed that he and his base detest the debt-ceiling bill and want to move on as soon as possible. But the contrast between his effectiveness and active defense of the liberal agenda on the one hand, and his rhetoric on the other must be more than a little irksome to liberals.
And unfortunately for him, moving on from the debt-ceiling debate involves returning to the subject of the economy more generally and unemployment specifically. Those are not helpful topics for his re-election prospects.
For weeks we heard form the liberal spin squad that Obama was “winning” this debate and that Americans would rally to his side. Nope. If you had any doubt, all you needed to do was watch a surly and lonely president in essence plead for his party not to be mad at him.