Here is the Obama Version of Eating Soup With a Knife

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Jackie Calmes writes today about President Obama’s big problem with Republicans:

In the past, when he has stayed aloof from legislative action, Republicans and others have accused him of a lack of leadership; when he has gotten involved, they have complained that they could not support any bill so closely identified with Mr. Obama without risking the contempt of conservative voters. Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland, called this predicament Mr. Obama’s “Catch-22.”

….Other than the stimulus experience in early 2009, the moment that most captured that polarization for the White House occurred a year later. In early 2010 Republican senators, including the minority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, demanded that Mr. Obama endorse bipartisan legislation to create a deficit-reduction commission. But when he finally did so, they voted against the bill, killing it.

Well, that’s what the opposition does: it opposes. If Obama is spending too much, you scream about the deficit. If he cuts spending, you scream that he’s endangering the safety of the country. If he refuses to reform Medicare, you scream that entitlements are out of control. If he cuts Medicare spending, you run campaign ads screaming that he’s sacrificing Granny on the altar of Obamacare. If he raises taxes, you scream that he’s engaged in class warfare. If he lowers taxes, you scream that he’s draining the Social Security trust fund.

In other words, any port in a storm. Opposition parties routinely use whatever arguments are at hand. This is hypocritical, of course, but no one cares about hypocrisy unless it’s the other guys engaging in it. When your guys do it, you beaver away figuring out clever reasons why this episode isn’t really at all like that previous episode. Everyone does this.

It’s still pretty annoying, though, isn’t it?


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend