During a press conference today at the White House, President Obama evinced probably more passion than I’ve seen him offer up as president – at least while not in 2010 campaign mode – and it was all in an effort to rebut his own allies in the Democratic Party who are in an uproar over his willingness not to raise taxes on rich people.
The worst fights indeed are within the family.
Seriously, I thought he was going to start crying.
Anyway, it’s nice to see something get a rise out of him. I’m sure he had to run to the Blue Room to soak his sorrows for a bit before returning to work in the Oval Office.
It’s worth taking a look at his little speech opposing liberal perfectionism – or you might say, absolutism. For sure, Obama, as the most liberal member of the Senate, would be leading the hue and cry were he not the president. But high office – and the hope for reelection to it – forces people to look at the bigger picture.
His remarks are quite eloquent, particularly for ones given off the cuff in response to a question, the last of the news conference.
People will have the satisfaction of having a purist position and no victories for the American people. And we will be able to feel good about ourselves and sanctimonious about how pure our intentions are and how tough we are, and in the meantime the American people are still seeing themselves not able to get health insurance because of preexisting condition, or not being able to pay their bills because their unemployment insurance ran out.
That can’t be the measure of – of how we think about our public service. That can’t be the measure of what it means to be a Democrat.
This is a big, diverse country. Not everybody agrees with us. I know that shocks people. You know, the New York Times editorial page does not permeate across all of America. Neither does The Wall Street Journal editorial page.
Most Americans, they’re just trying to figure out how to – how to go about their lives and — and how can we make sure that our elected officials are looking out for us.
And that means because it’s a big, diverse country and people have a lot of complicated positions, it means that in order to get stuff done, we’re going to compromise.
This is why FDR when he started Social Security it only affected widows and orphans. You did not qualify. And yet now it is something that really helps a lot of people. When Medicare was started, it was a small program. It grew.
Under – under the criteria that you just set out, each of those were betrayals of some abstract ideal.
This country was founded on compromise. I couldn’t go through the front door at this country’s founding. And, you know, if we were really thinking about ideal positions, we wouldn’t have a union.
So my job is to make sure that we have a North Star out there: What is helping the American people live out their lives? You know, what is giving them more opportunity? What is growing the economy? What is making us more competitive?
But here’s his problem.