Ezra Klein's latest is almost coma-inducing, what with the sudden shock of all that blood rushing to one's spleen:
Boehner--and, more to the point, Boehner’s House members--increasingly see weakness in the White House’s negotiating position.
A few weeks ago, the Obama administration was firm that they wouldn’t budge on tax rates for income above $250,000 and that they wouldn’t budge on the debt ceiling. They’ve since budged on both. Republicans increasingly think the White House will concede more now, and that if they don’t concede more now they’ll definitely give Republicans a better deal if threatened with debt default.
I don't buy progressives' political Zoroastrianism that self-righteously interprets Obama as some sort of Manchurian reactionary in league with dark cosmic forces hellbent on dismantling New Dealism and cementing the corporate state. Progressives claim empirical evidence for their faith--e.g., the 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax cuts; a watered-down stimulus; privatized healthcare reform--but, as in all organized religions, their evidence contains abundant holes. President Obama generally out-negotiated and outwitted the right (the 2011 debt-ceiling debacle being the one notable exception) in his first term--see, e.g., the huge benefits to working-class Americans behind the 2010 tax deal; the stimulus package's economic lift; the close approximation of universality in healthcare--and, of course, Obama was facing a reelection bid, which meant having to play the calm, conciliatory adult.
Post-reelection, though, things should have changed. Obama's victory was decisive, and his singularly unmistakable message leading up to that victory was the scaling back of high-end tax cuts to Clinton-era levels. Yet in virtually no post-reelection time at all, Obama made it just as clear that he was willing to tolerate fresh rounds of Republican psychosis.
Here, I think, is the real problem. Rather than being a weak negotiator, Obama seems to be all too good at it; he loves negotiating, he adores the lawyerly haggling and the Solomonic splitting of differences--but he has yet to realize that he as president is negotiating not within a good-faith two-party system, as nearly all his predecessors did, but against a ruthlessly nihilistic gang of incurable cutthroats who harbor nothing but contempt for all political opposition and indeed the very constitution they swore to uphold.