Paul Krugman is upset about Obama’s appeasement of the right

The Post says that Obama is going to more or less endorse Bowles-Simpson in his Wednesday talk.


Matt Yglesias joins

Once the President of the United States accepts the premise that it’s reasonable to ask him to make concessions in exchange for an increase in the debt ceiling that both John Boehner and Eric Cantor have conceded is necessary, he’s giving away the game.

Mike Konczal has general disapproval

At the end of last year I wrote a post about how President Obama is bad at losing. I like that conceptual model because the idea that President Obama is bad at losing – that he loses in a way that conflicts his base, concedes too much to his opponents and doesn’t leave liberalism in a better position to fight next round  – is robust to many different ideas about the current state of Democratic Party.

I’ll offer some amateur outside the beltway strategery analysis. Given the behavior of the Obama White House, it looks to me like their primary objective is to secure an expansion in the scope of government funded health care by avoiding conflict on all other issues.

This explains the steady even if bloody push to pass the PPACA. It explains the seeming disinterest in meaningful shifts in policy in other areas. It explains why Obama was for the stimulus when it seemed popular and conceded to austerity when it seemed popular.

This is a classic Fabian approach. Avoid engaging the enemy when time is on your side. This also seems like an accurate description of the progressive movements position. While at the moment Progressivism may lose a head-on confrontation, time is indeed on its side. Its opposition is older and grounded in institutions which are losing power. The intellectual base of the right is eroding. Political opinion is solidifying around the notion that there will be some form of universal health care.

As always the Fabian defense is unpopular with hawks, who would prefer that the enemy be engaged and crushed. However, it is successful.

Now as always I think the politics of these big issues is not that important. I suspect that in the end the equilibrium will be determined by fundamentals. However, if you were going to play a pro-progressive political strategy this doesn’t seem like a bad one.