So said President Obama before reportedly storming out of high-pressure debt ceiling discussions with Republicans last night. It sounds like the president is more interested in playing politics than in actually drilling down and resolving the problem.
He’s already “gone” to the American people – with his hopelessly vague budget plan speech, his hyper-partisan press conferences, and his fear-mongering to elderly voters. What he needs to do now is the same thing he’s avoided doing since the beginning of his presidency: sit down with lawmakers and hammer out some sort of resolution. Being the “adult in the room” only works if you actually stay in the room. Running out in a huff because you can’t take the pressure isn’t a Reagan-esque move – it’s a tantrum.
Two data points. 1) Obama loses his cool with House Whip Eric Cantor, says he’s had enough, tells Cantor not to call his bluff, walks out. 2) Quinnipiac releases a poll indicating that by a margin of 48-34, the public will blame Republicans and not Obama if the debt ceiling is not raised. Put them together and you come to point #3: The president thinks this is a fight he can and will win.
I suspect the president’s conduct in yesterday’s meeting was informed either by an early read-out on the Q poll or by private polling showing similar results. In which case, his departure from the meeting wasn’t a fit of weak pique, but rather an improperly understood expression of confidence. Thus, when he told Cantor not to call his bluff, he misspoke. He was warning Cantor not to call Obama’s bet—because Obama believes his hand is the winning hand and if Cantor calls, Cantor will lose.
This past year, the Obama administration has picked several fights with Israel that have helped tilt the diplomatic playing field in the direction of the Palestinians. Yet in return for this help, the Palestinian Authority has repeatedly thumbed its nose at an Obama administration by boycotting peace talks, making an alliance with the Hamas terrorists and then attempting an end run around U.S. diplomacy with a pointless effort to get the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state.
But like a battered spouse, the administration won’t admit the truth about its “peace partner.” Obama’s credulous approach to the PA was on display again earlier this week when administration officials testified before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia to defend the continuing flow of American tax dollars to the Palestinian Authority.
According to a press report, “President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of a stormy debt-limit meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, a dramatic setback to the already shaky negotiations.’ ‘ He shoved back and said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and walked out,’ House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told reporters in the Capitol after the meeting.”
The president’s reported agitation, his lecturing tone, and his threats aren’t terribly surprising. Last week, I wrote about the president’s narcissism, of which petulance is a kind of second cousin. When an individual of almost limitless self-regard doesn’t get his way — when a man who was dubbed by his aides as the “Black Jesus” during the 2008 campaign encounters resistance rather than compliance – he is not likely to handle it well. And when you combine this with the fact that Obama’s policies are failing on almost every front and the soaring hopes of 2008 crashed and burned long ago, then storming out of meetings with members of the other party is predictable.
The stress of the presidency seems to be bringing out some of the worst qualities in Obama. Just wait until the campaign.
During the 2008 campaign and throughout the subsequent debate over his health care legislation, President Obama used his mother’s experience as a cancer patient fighting to get coverage to pay for treatment for what her insurer said was a pre-existing condition as an emotional argument to sway skeptics. However, a new book by New York Times reporter Janny Scott has revealed this story appears to be a fabrication.
The Times reports today (in a story buried on page 14 rather than on the front page) that during the course of researching her book, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, Scott uncovered correspondence showing “the 1995 dispute concerned a Cigna disability insurance policy and that her actual health insurer had apparently reimbursed most of her medical expenses without argument.” In response to inquiries, “a White House spokesman chose not to dispute either Ms. Scott’s account or Mr. Obama’s memory, while arguing that Mr. Obama’s broader point remained salient.”
In other words, Obama lied in order to make a political point.