It unlikely that anybody is ever truly ready to be the president on the first day of his or her presidency (with the possibly exception of Hillary Clinton, since she kind of already went through it without going through it). How could you be? It's a job unlike any other job. And President Obama may be beginning to understand that all too well, as Congress has its way with his hefty stimulus package.
The thing is, you'd probably go into the job expecting to deal with fellow human beings, with whom you can reason. But then you get there and that's not who you're dealing with at all. You're dealing with politicians. Republicans and Democrats. And those people are impervious to reason. All they care about is perpetrating a mythology of how they'd like the world to work. Not at all related to how the world does work.
New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman's beard, writes of how Obama's lack of understanding of whom he was dealing with led to his first major defeat as president…
I blame President Obama’s belief that he can transcend the partisan divide — a belief that warped his economic strategy. After all, many people expected Mr. Obama to come out with a really strong stimulus plan, reflecting both the economy’s dire straits and his own electoral mandate.
Instead, however, he offered a plan that was clearly both too small and too heavily reliant on tax cuts. Why? Because he wanted the plan to have broad bipartisan support, and believed that it would. Not long ago administration strategists were talking about getting 80 or more votes in the Senate.
And Mr. Obama got nothing in return for his bipartisan outreach. Not one Republican voted for the House version of the stimulus plan, which was, by the way, better focused than the original administration proposal.
Take note of that! Not one fucking Republican congressperson voted for the bill. Zero percent of the House GOP!
Obama's problem was that he thought that if he pre-loaded the bill with GOP-friendly tax cuts, that they'd go for it. But he could have made it 75 percent tax cuts and they still would have voted against it. Because they were gonna vote against it no matter what. Because why?
Because because. Because they're Republicans and he's a Democrat and that what Republicans do to Democrats. That's the script they play by.
Of course, Democrats aren't any better…
So Mr. Obama was reduced to bargaining for the votes of those centrists. And the centrists, predictably, extracted a pound of flesh — not, as far as anyone can tell, based on any coherent economic argument, but simply to demonstrate their centrist mojo. They probably would have demanded that $100 billion or so be cut from anything Mr. Obama proposed; by coming in with such a low initial bid, the president guaranteed that the final deal would be much too small.
By "centrists," Krugman's beard doesn't mean "center-leaning Democrats and Republicans." No! Centrists are Republican-leaning Democrats.
Because that's the script that Democrats play by. Capitulation to the right. Even when the right is a tiny minority. Even when they can see that their party gets thrown into a blender in the third act.