Deciding when to compromise should be easier than it is for a leader. Should you give something you are against to get something you want? Or should you stand on principle and refuse to compromise? These classic questions for democratic leaders used to be rare, but they are becoming more common.
That is because the current Democratic president is confronted by a minority opposition party (soon to be majority in the House) that has adopted as its policy unified opposition to virtually all Democratic initiatives. Against the standard press assumption regarding “polarization” in Washington, that has not been the policy of an opposition Democratic party many of whose leaders voted for the Iraq war and Bush tax cuts most of their party constituents were against. Neither Presidents Carter, Clinton, nor Obama are or were far left or liberal (contrary to the ridiculous Fox rhetoric about socialists).
In the current compromise over taxes, Republicans did concede on unemployment compensation extensions in order to get tax cuts for the wealthy. Faced with automatic tax increases (in truth, restoration of the rates before the “temporary” Bush tax cuts) and a willingness of Senate Republicans to blow up the economic ship of state, President Obama says he had no choice. He sacrificed, however, the convictions of many in his party who believe with considerable evidence that the middle class is stagnate and wealth is flooding upward and that the political deck is stacked in favor of the golden rule (“them that has the gold make the rules”).
Because of this truth, I don’t like the compromise at all. It isn’t fair and it isn’t just. But neither is it fair or just to let unemployed people be Scrooged at Christmas. If this makes you as angry as it does me, just remember who we should be angry at.