Friday, April 15, 2011

And Then I Sez to Him, I Sez, "Lissen, Youse ..."

You can tell that President Obama is in campaign mode, because he's putting on his populist act again. And you can tell who the Obama loyalists in the media are, too, because they're buying it. This story is making the rounds today, both at the Huffington Post and at MSNBC. Here's the HuffPost version:

President Barack Obama was caught on an open mic making some blunt and intriguing remarks about the actions of Republicans in recent budget negotiations that produced a deal to avert a government shutdown at a fundraiser in Chicago on Thursday, CBS News reports.

In audio relayed by the network, the president can be heard addressing unsuccessful Republican maneuvering to roll back portions of health care reform, as well as restrict Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, in reaching an agreement.

"I said, 'You want to repeal health care?'" Obama revealed at the private event. "Go at it. We'll have that debate. You're not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we're stupid?'"

Both stories make it sound as though that live microphone picked up Obama telling off the Republicans themselves. But then you realize that he's boasting to a "private event," a fundraiser, about how he gave them mugs what for. The ninety-five pound-weakling is standing up to the worst bully on the beach at last! Barack Obama has stopped playing eleven-dimensional chess and is going to show the Republicans what he's made of!

Well, not really. I don't believe that the microphone feed was accidental, and I don't believe that Obama really said such things to the Republicans. I've heard that sort of thing before. In December of 2009, for example:
"If they wish to fight common sense consumer protections, that's a fight I'm more than willing to have," Obama told reporters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the executive mansion.
As Glenn Greenwald wrote at the time:
One can say many things about these bankers, but they're typically quite perceptive about matters of self-interest. They don't exactly seem frightened -- or even remotely concerned -- by the presidential "dressing down" they're about to receive. In fact, they seem to think it's all a sham for public consumption. I wonder why they think that.
And before that, in January 2009, when he was still flushed with his election and the control of both houses of Congress by his party:
President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
"Sources familiar with the conversation" is a little better, but still shaky. Some of us professional leftists, including me, got our hopes up when we read that. And then of course Obama proceeded to dilute the stimulus with tax cuts and other concessions to the beaten Republicans. What a guy. Makes you cry. But I won't.

Talk's cheap. There's going to be a lot of it in the next two years. Having been through this before, I'm even more skeptical than I was then.