E. J. Dionne Jr. contributed another piece to this year's genre of blaming Republicans for President Obama's failures. The 2012 race has produced a long series of earnest, left-wing Republican bashing, highlighted by the Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein hit piece, "Let's just say it: The Republicans are the problem." This week, Dionne gives us a point-blank reminder that “the popular things he (Obama) wants to do are being blocked by Republicans.” In this case, Obama wants to raise some taxes; Republicans don't want to raise anyone's taxes. To the left, the gesture of a tax increase is more important than doing what's right for the economy. To paraphrase Goldwater, "opposition to gratuitously wounding the economy is no vice."
Anyway, all these guys have tunnel vision if all they see is Republicans causing gridlock. It is obviously wrong to believe that if Republicans and Democrats suddenly raised taxes and the government were a little bigger, the economy would be better off. The president doesn't have an economic plan — he has an ideological point of view and a political wedge issue that he cynically manipulates.
Further proof of this lies in a quick look at what the president hasn't done and isn't doing. Gridlock takes two, but Obama proves you can dither and be ineffective all by yourself. He hasn't produced a real budget in three years. His Democratic followers in the Senate have not passed one budget in that same time. If Obama cared, we would see more action on trade agreements. He blocked the mammoth job creator and energy security program that is the Keystone Pipeline all by himself. He dithered on immigration before it became politically expedient to do some unconstitutional grandstanding. He is leading from behind again — or as some would say is dithering — while Syria collapses into something unknown. Afghanistan deteriorates, and Iran ignores Obama and readies for war while the Ditherer-in-Chief hopes nobody notices. He chatters on the sidelines while the euro-zone economies slow American job growth.
We can't even have an honest debate if everything is the Republicans' fault. If anything, Romney and Republicans have been forced to respond to the low level of discourse in kind. As a result, voters see little more than finger-pointing and mud wrestling.
Given the state of the economy and Obama's performance to date, that's just the distraction he needs.