President Barack Obama has revealed himself to be a man unwilling to fight for the principles in which he has said he believed.
The protracted debt ceiling/deficit reduction battle reveals, more starkly than ever, this president’s inability to stand firm. The United States may avoid a default, but the battle will end not with a bang, but with a whimper. Sadly, this is now the defining moment of Obama’s presidency.
How many times during the last six months has Obama capitulated to the 80 unreasoning Tea Party members of the House of Representatives and their right-wing echo chamber on talk radio and cable TV?
First, he allowed the debt ceiling talks to be linked to deficit reduction, then he abandoned even the idea of revenue increases. He gave away the store and alienated his base, and still the radical fringe frames the debate, now by demanding more cuts and an unnecessary constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, which would hamstring the government in the wake of major events. He could have stood up at any time, holding the 14th Amendment option in his pocket as a last resort. Now he just waits like the rest of us to see what happens next.
The president gave in and gave in, and he has lost whatever good will the great middle had for his attempt to be the rational one in the argument. Americans cannot respect a president who runs up the white flag of surrender.
And this obscene sausage-making is only the latest in a long line of appeasements: on health care, on Guantanamo Bay, on civilian trials for terror suspects.
We teach our children the fine art of compromise, but if you compromise away your values, you’ve lost something you cannot get back by barter.
We don’t want to elect some “philosopher-king” out of Plato. We want a leader with fire in his belly, who at least puts up an honest struggle based on core principles, who, in the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “spends himself in a worthy cause … and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So many thought that Barack Obama might be just that man. It looks as if we were wrong.