To me it remains nearly incomprehensible that progressive writers such as David Corn must tutor the adult progressive community on the fundamental politics of "governing," which is regularly compromising, which is invariably interpreted by said progressive community as "caving." Another David--Brooks--nicely served up, on Thanksgiving Day, a celebratory definition of Abe Lincoln's (and, by way of inference, Barack Obama's) governing style versus the idealistically entrenched:
In the Gettysburg phase, a leader expresses grand ideas. This, frankly, is relatively easy. Lots of people embrace grand ideals or all-explaining ideologies. But satisfied with that they become morally infantile. They refuse to compromise, insult their opponents and isolate themselves on the perch of their own solipsism.
I freely cop to the insult phase; the last time I looked around I really was, from my vantage point, the center of this universe; and I'd also cop to moral infantilism if only I believed in what seems to be puritanically imposed morality, as opposed to natural ethics. As for compromising, I'm generally flexible, which is a happily agreeable match.
I wonder, though, if Corn's piece isn't a softening tactic. The negotiating vibes are spooky: word is circulating that real entitlement cuts--such as upping Medicare's eligibility age, or that of Social Security, which has virtually nothing to do with our fiscal problems--would be an inescapable portion of any pre-January budget deal.
And such a compromise--as Obama is getting an earful of--would be as condemnable as it would be contemptible. The center-left won. Some things--i.e., protecting social safety nets as they are--are no longer debatable. Only new revenue streams and old weapons systems and inched-up tax rates (and that means, eventually, on the middle class as well) are for legitimate contemplation.
The right helped immensely in getting us into this fiscal mess with its mindless tax cuts. The curtain on that crap should be drawn. And any gutting or trimming of the Booming welfare state--especially now that it's really needed--should be shown the GOP's infamous highway. At this, I reach my compromising limit.