All that effort--the NYT's above-the-fold story, "As Budget Fight Looms, Obama Sees Defiance in His Own Party"--for naught. For in one short quote, from Howard Dean, it's swept scrupulously into a dismissive can of ash: "I can guarantee you the Democrats are going to unite around the president when the Republicans try to shut the government down."
I'll vouch for that guarantee. The president has had a rough fifth year, whose turmoil, missteps and pratfalls are too well known to beg another review. Yet Democratic discontent with Democratic White Houses is nothing new (hell it's been chronic since Grove Cleveland), just as the intimidating power of the Oval Office vividly endures: There are 254 Dems on Capitol Hill, and precisely two--Sens. Bernie Sanders and Mark Udall--were willing to speak unanonymously to the NY Times. Even innominate differences will fade from public view as Republicans go for the national gut once again.
Presidential adviser Dan Pfeiffer: "Of course we won’t agree on everything all the time--every family has its squabbles--but the periodic disagreements in the Democratic Party pale in comparison to the epic existential civil war for the soul of the Republican Party that is leading to so much dysfunction."
Pfeiffer knows, of course, that that dysfunction unites--Democrats. It's not only Obama who's politically lucky in his enemies, it's all of Obama's unsteady yet partisan allies. Against Republicans' emerging fragmentation Democrats look the model of unity, and for good reason: by comparison they are.
For the president a rough fifth year it has undeniably been, which has compelled critical excursions by me and other lefty commentators not prone to knee-jerk presidential tub-thumping. For me the journey has been an unpleasant one, on unfamiliar ground. Throughout the first four years I delivered a nearly unbroken series of favorable commentary on Obama's performance--not out of blind and unthinking loyalty, which is so frightfully common in the pro-Obama blogosphere, but out of genuine sympathy for what generally, I believed, was the best of all possible performances. This year has been a bummer.
That's about to change--politically, anyway.