New York Times reporter Matt Bai uses the debt commission (12/1/10)to ask whether Barack Obama will finally stand up to the liberal base of the Democratic party. As the headline puts it, "Debt-Busting Issue May Force Obama Off Fence."
You see, in Bai's world, Obama was never much of a Clinton-style "triangulator," which is a big problem:
Part of the contrast Mr. Obama sought to draw with Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 campaign was that you would never catch him triangulating against his friends for political gain. It was a point of pride for Mr. Obama that he would have no so-called Sister Souljah moments, even when he vehemently disagreed with liberals.
The problem with this stance, two years into his presidency, is that it seems to have put Mr. Obama in something of a box. Since he isn't willing to break publicly with liberals, independent and conservative voters tend to see him as a tool of the left. And since he generally won't do exactly what the left wants him to do, he ends up with very little gratitude from his own party.
Yes, except for escalating the Afghan War, blinking on the tax cut debate, doing nothing on card check or immigration, announcing a pay freeze for federal workers, taking a weak position on climate change, failing to close Guantanamo,leaving intactmost of Bush's "war on terror" policies and junking the public option, Bai is right–Obama has never really told the party base to stuff it.
The national debt is near the top of any list of voter concerns at the moment.
ANY poll?The first one I found, from CBS News (11/11/10), found 4 percent of respondents thought the debt was the first order of business for the next Congress–leadingTimes columnist Paul Krugman to write a blog post (11/14/10)headlined, "No, Really–Nobody Cares About the Deficit."
And as we pointed out a few months ago, the Times news section arrived at a different conclusion on September 16:
The economy and jobs are increasingly and overwhelmingly cited by Americans as the most important problems facing the country, while the deficit barely registers as a topic of concern when survey respondents were asked to volunteer their worries.
Are Times factcheckers allowed to skip Matt Bai's articles?