No less a rightwing stalwart than Charles Krauthammer has christened President Obama the “new Comeback Kid.” Last week, Krauthammer said that Obama had beat the Republicans at their own game: “Barack Obama won the great tax-cut showdown of 2010,” he said.
In today’s WaPo, Krauthammer says Obama is well positioned to win re-election, partly because he has proved better at so-called triangulation than even Bill Clinton, the presumed champion of that particular political art:
Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, dealmaker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.
Compare this with Bill Clinton, greatest of all comeback kids, who, at a news conference a full five months after his shellacking in 1994, was reduced to plaintively protesting that “the president is relevant here.” He had been so humiliatingly sidelined that he did not really recover until late 1995 when he outmaneuvered Newt Gingrich in the government-shutdown showdown.
And that was Clinton responding nimbly to political opportunity. Obama fashioned out of thin air his return to relevance, an even more impressive achievement.
Remember the question after Election Day: Can Obama move to the center to win back the independents who had abandoned the party in November? And if so, how long would it take? Answer: Five weeks. An indoor record, although an asterisk should denote that he had help – Republicans clearing his path and sprinkling it with rose petals.
Krauthammer is certainly right that the Republicans did everything they could to help Obama become such a big winner — mostly by proving what hypocrites they are on the deficit. The mid-term elections were supposedly a referendum on government spending; the Democrats’ loss of the House was supposed to show that the tea partiers and their supporters were absolutely serious about getting the deficit under control.
So how serious are Republicans about the deficit? The tax cut deal adds $700 billion to the deficit in the next two years alone. CNN has a chart showing the cost of various parts of the package: