The Ugly Truth On What Was Really “Left At The Altar”

Graphic by @TWolf10

I was away during the dueling banjos press conferences of Barack Obama and John Boehner this afternoon. Apparently it was quite the show. Despite stating repeatedly how he was “left at the altar” by his Orange Glo golfing chum Boehner, President Obama seemed to get surprisingly effusive praise from pundits on the left for his speech.

Indicative of the praise is this tweet from Keith Olbermann:

You know my criticisms of this POTUS. In this news conference he has been absolutely effing kickass, and properly pissed off.

David Corn of Mother Jones tweeted:

O was as passionate and as close to angry as he gets. #debtageddon

And Corn is now on Lawrence O’Donnell’s show on MSNBC, where Lawrence the “Eleventy Dimensional Chess Scold” himself just said of Obama’s presser:

“It was a brilliantly effective appearance for his reelection.”

And there is the problem isn’t it? Obama really was, and is, worried more about his reelection than he is the welfare of the country and the entirety of its citizens who are not members of his cherished moneyed elite and financial sector magnates.

The details seemed to ebb and flow over the last few days, but this from Bloomberg sums up the basics of what Obama was willing to pull the trigger on:

Two congressional officials said the White House told Democratic leaders it was pursuing a deal to cut spending, including on Social Security and Medicare, and a tax overhaul that could raise $1 trillion. That provoked an angry reaction yesterday from Senate Democrats, who said they feared they might be asked to swallow steep reductions in programs and trims to entitlement benefits with no assurance of higher tax revenue.

Right. What Obama was caterwauling about being “left at the altar” was his willingness, nee burning desire, to make huge cuts in spending and social safety net programs, in return for the possibility of a tax reform later.

And, make no mistake, Mr. Obama is absolutely desperate to make that deal in order to get the debt ceiling issue off the table until sometime after his reelection campaign. His “Grand Bargain” is shit for the economy, shit for almost all Americans safety net now and in the future; it is only good for the howling idiots in the Tea Party sphere and, of course, the reelection campaign of Barack Obama.

So THAT is what was “left at the altar”, and why Barack Obama was suddenly so apoplectically passionate about it. And, yes, it must be stated Boehner, Cantor and the Tea GOP are even more craven and lame than Obama here, but that is pretty weak tea to hang your hat on if you are a sentient being. And that, folks, was the way it was on the day the debt ceiling fell to the floor.

But, fear not trepidatious Americans, Mr. Obama is going to try to save your future and his “grand bargain” again tomorrow! Gee, what dedication.

UPDATE: Paul Krugman understands the ugly truth here, having issued an article today entitled “What Obama Was Willing To Give Away”. Exactly.

[The wonderful and appropos graphic is by the one and only @TWolf10]

32 replies
  1. dustbunny44 says:

    The only certainty is that we’re doomed to continue this dance for many days yet. As a Californian I can tell you that going into budget default means the dance continues for endless months more.

  2. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Can someone please explain to me why no Democrat – none of them, not even the most liberal, has made the simple suggestion that we should stop conflating the budget numbers. Have a budget for Medicare. Have a budget for SS and have a budget for everything else. SS and Medicare have dedicated taxes. They should be dealt with independently. This whole exercise is nothing more than how much each party wants to steal from grandma and the taxes she has paid all her life to finance the rest of the budget which is mostly war and defense. They’re all thieves. Both parties. Every single one of them.

    • bmaz says:

      Hmm, ya got a point there although there is more intermingling on Medicare than that.

      On a more fun note, there will be Trash this weekend!! I can almost smell football….

  3. Scarecrow says:

    Other thoughts:

    1. Obama has said that substantial reductions in the debt are economically necessary. They’re not, but that’s what he’s said. So if he fails to get a deal, then by his own definition, he’s failed to do what the economy needs.

    2. He’s also claimed that we can’t even have a conversation about jobs and growth, until the debt issue is resolved, because, he claims, business uncertainty about the debt and future taxes are hindering hiring. This too is gibberish, but it’s what he’s said. So by his own words, he can’t address the jobless problem unless/until he gets the debt deal.

    3. He’s now endorsed the Tea-GOP view that its perfectly reasonable to use a debt limit raising as the correct opportunity to push for lowering spending and reducing the debt. So he’s now legitimated that irresponsible tactic. Even if there’s a modest deal, he own words/rhetoric will call that a failure, because the correct answer should have been, he says, a much bigger payment on debt reduction as a condition for raising the debt limit.

    4. He’s legistimized the view that Social Security and Medicare and Medicair are “debt crisis” problems and have to be solved. That too is gibberish. But it’s now the bipartisan view and accepted by the media. So we’ll have to face that rhetoric and efforts to slash these programs again and again, it defenders will have a hard time arguing against this.

    5. He’s basically said, the Democrats in the House don’t matter, and he doesn’t even need to consult with or even inform the Senate about his negotiating positions, even though he expects both House and Senate Dems to accept whatever he agrees to. He’s emasculated his own party, even though it has a nominal majority in the Senate, and they have allowed him to do it.

    6. And hes has probably pissed away any value to Dems ability to claim they’re the party to protect the New Deal/Great Society. He’s foreced them to remain silent when he argues protecting those foundations has to fall to the need for debt reduction, a completely stupid economic argument, never mind political stupid.

  4. Scarecrow says:

    One more thing. Lawrence O’Donnell argues that when Obama “offered” all these concessins, he was lying, and he lied repeatedly to the public in his various press conferences, just to fool the Republicans. so what this means is, the Tea-GOP gets to run ads in 2012 saying the President never acted in good faith, he always meant to put the goal posts too far away, and he lied repeatedly to the American people. That’s what O’Donnell said, on at least four different nights.

    Now there’s a strategy: Vote for me because I know how to lie to you and the GOP. And to you Independents, vote for me because I’m the reasonable guy, except when I’m negotiating in bad faith.

  5. Arbusto says:

    Gee Barack, your Freudian slip is showing. left at the alter you say. What kind of marriage did you have in mind with the Boner of the GOP. While you appear the hold many of his beliefs, I wonder how long the partnership will last. Do You intend that, as the male figure, you can have him or one of his surrogates run as a VP in order to win over GOP leaning independent voters. It’s time you change meds and quite trying 11 dim chess.

  6. Gitcheegumee says:

    I thought the title was “The Ugly Truth about What Was Really Left After the Alter”.

    You know,what’s left after you “alter” a male?

    I think the matrimonial kind is spelled altar..come to think of it maybe they could be interchangeable. No doubt some males feel altered by the altar.

  7. Gitcheegumee says:

    John Boehner walks away from debt talks
    Source: CBS

    House Speaker John Boehner has walked away from negotiations with President Obama over a deal to raise the debt limit.

    “In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country,” Boehner said in a letter to colleagues. He said Mr. Obama ” is emphatic that taxes have to be raised” and “adamant that we cannot make fundamental changes to our entitlement programs.”

    “For these reasons, I have decided to end discussions with the White House and begin conversations with the leaders of the Senate in an effort to find a path forward,” he said.

    House Republican leadership aides told CBS News that Boehner will work with the Senate leadership in an attempt to reach a deal that meets the GOP’s two central requirements: That spending cuts are equal to or greater than debt limit increase and that there are no new taxes.


    Note;I suppose the title of the next film will be entitled “Irreconcilible Differences.”…

    (What we have here is a failure to communicate”…)

  8. Liberal Heart says:

    How ’bout stopping — in the GOP politicians’ districts — payment for anything that’s supported by taxes. That way we’d have plenty of money to pay down the debt and keep entitlements intact.

  9. DWBartoo says:

    Excellent post, about the caterwauler-in-chief, EW.

    Fine points, Scarecrow.

    And I agree with Gitchee, perhaps it would cast a good spell to alter the title, “a” bit?


  10. DWBartoo says:

    As well, the Dems have a new slogan out of the ludicrous alter-cation, if they are wise enough to read “emptywheel”. To wit, “We Dems are less craven (in our complicity — this phrase not to be included of course) than the Rethugs.”

    The less becraven; when being the lesser evil … is simply not, any longer, enough.


  11. DWBartoo says:

    Now Gitchee, your discussion of the Altared States induced by the Prospects of Matrimony, with the dire potential of “Irreconcilible Differences” leading, Inevitably, to a Nasty Divorce, the splitting of marital assets and the question of Cuss-toady … leads one to consider bipartisan coupling to be a very bad and socially destructive thing, indeed. Why, even the mere thought of it is becoming ever more disgusting, and, if there really are offspring, hidden somewhere, away from the light of sweet reason, what would we find should we stumble across them, some dark and stormy midnight, alone on the howling moor, surrounded by scuttling creatures amongst the low-growing and clutching shrubs; “Ah! What have mine eyes just seen, a disgusting donkephant, perhaps, or the much dreaded and equally noisome elephey? No rude beast, fit for the eyes of humankind or kind humans, would long behave as these beasts have done, without there were just consequence, especially as they exist on the forebearance, nay, on sufferance of the people, not as nobles, above, but as servants, as equals … yet now they strut ’round as masters of all, above reproach or gainsay.”


  12. Katie Jensen says:

    Well, Mr Hudson is on the same page as EW and many of us. UGH.

    MICHAEL HUDSON: What they’re pushing for really isn’t a default on the debt. They’re pushing for a crisis to let Mr. Obama rush through the Republican plan. Now, in order for him to do it, the Republicans have to play good cop, bad cop. They have to have the Tea Party move so far to the right, take a so crazy a position, that Mr. Obama seems reasonable by comparison. And, of course, he is not reasonable. He’s a Wall Street Democrat, which we used to call Republicans.

  13. Gitcheegumee says:

    DW @ 1:11am:

    Dee dub, there’s a whole lot of truth to the old adage that politics do indeed make for the strangest of bedfellows. *G*

  14. Gitcheegumee says:

    I often lament the fact that FDR apparently has been relegated to history’s ash bin by today’s media,in general;and, the Dems,in particular.(Of course, the concerted effort to dismantle Social Security-an FDR achievemnet-may have a little something to do with it.)

    I just can’t imagine our present day leaders,saying that they welcome the hatred of Wall Street ,as FDR did in his 1936 Madison Square Garden speech.. here’s a small excerpt, but the entire piece is as salient now-or more so- than when spoken 75 years ago.

    “For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge!… Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

    We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

    They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

    I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.
    . Only desperate men with their backs to the wall would descend so far below the level of decent citizenship as to foster the current pay-envelope campaign against America’s working people. Only reckless men, heedless of consequences, would risk the disruption of the hope for a new peace between worker and employer by returning to the tactics of the labor spy.

    Here is an amazing paradox! The very employers and politicians and publishers who talk most loudly of class antagonism and the destruction of the American system now undermine that system by this attempt to coerce the votes of the wage earners of this country. It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.”

    NOTE: This was delivered on October 31,1936. ..Halloween night. No treats were dispensed by FDR in this speech.

    Can someone send the ENTIRE transcript to Murdoch and also the Chamber of Commerce’s Tom Donohue??

  15. EoH says:

    Mr. Obama must want us to imagine him as heading a “national” government, that is, the kind of non-party, multi-party, above the fray coalition government that was once possible during war time. That’s often a prelude to dispensing with other normal rules of partisan combat, such as political parties, and formal rules of government, such as constitutional limitations on authority and the powers and duties of competing branches of government.

    Lloyd George and Churchill led British governments with similar tendencies during the First and Second World Wars. Party politics and competing views of reality and what government should do to respond to society’s needs quickly reasserted themselves after hostilities. Since the GWOT conveniently has no end, that process has been delayed here; in fact, it’s made less probable and possible.

    That suggests that the new “normal” Mr. Bush – and many in Congress and the courts – are creating is a single branch, president-only form of government that is even less responsive to the needs of average Americans than a fault-ridden representative government we’ve had for 200 years.

    In wartime, the economic and social needs of society are relegated to the bottom rung of the ladder of priorities, replaced by existential need for survival, security and retribution. What we’ve had since 9/11 is actual warfare, and its continuing and expanding. We now also have economic warfare, as a small elite orchestrates for itself more and more of the national economic pie, and arrogates to itself more intrusive surveillance and police powers in order to keep it and to punish those who might take it away from them by demanding different governmental policies and practices.

    What we have in Mr. Obama is a political surfer. He doesn’t care what the wave is, he’ll ride it all the same. If the foregoing are the political and economic waves hitting the shore of the American public, he isn’t going to “oppose” them by demanding more progressive or even centrist policies. He would consider that like talking to a wave instead of riding it, a physical impossibility. He will simply ride those waves as he would any other. And as long as he’s riding them, he doesn’t care what they do to the shoreline after they hit.

  16. spiny says:

    Yup, exactly correct bmaz

    Obama is a cynical opportunist with no core beliefs- other than his own success. Unfortunately, it appears that he also thinks that he has enough Democrats fooled so he can do whatever the hell he wants to do with what is left of our new deal and great society programs…

  17. GulfCoastPirate says:

    Phil Perspective on July 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm said:

    I forget, are you who I think you are? ;-)

    I’m not sure how to answer that question. Who do you think I am?

  18. GulfCoastPirate says:

    bmaz on July 22, 2011 at 10:08 pm said:

    Hmm, ya got a point there although there is more intermingling on Medicare than that.

    On a more fun note, there will be Trash this weekend!! I can almost smell football….

    Trash talk? Football trash talk? Have you been keeping up with all goings on in the Big XII – II? Apparently the Aggies and the Okies aren’t real happy that the Whorns signed that deal with ESPN for the Whorn Network so they’re all again going hat in hand to the SEC pleading for an invitiation to get out from under the Whorns. Frak, I hate all those people. I wish them nothing but misery for centuries to come. They all deserve each other.

    On Medicare – I disagree. It really is simple and you could get around the intermingling fairly easily and it would all be easy for people to understand. This charade going on in DC by both sides is nothing more than who can steal the most SS/Medicare money to keep the empire and its parasitic defense department going. Wish me luck – I’m going to try to make some money on it but I won’t have much interest until people get pissed off enough to bring out the pitchforks on both sides. Frankly, I can’t believe the vast majority of people in this country are so frakking stupid.

    I will say this about it – remember when the Roman Senate wouldn’t pay its bills Augustus marched on Rome and carried out the proscription. What will happen to us?

  19. Mary says:

    Thanks for this piece.

    Picking the ‘left at the alter’ meme is what O is about in the end. Not a leader, but an ineffective bit of uselessness who made a colossally bad decision and wants teaparty sympathy over what someone else, in control, did to him – instead of digging in and acceping responsiblity over what he has done to us.

    You nailed it bmaz, on his focus of concern – his main talent is putting the II in meme.

    PS – luck wished GCP

  20. Bob Schacht says:

    One of the things that I am becoming aware of here at Emptywheel is that despite stellar analytical journalism from Marcy, and valuable experience with the realpolitik of our courts from bmaz, Mary and others, I do not recall anyone of such rank who knows the realpolitik of Congress as someone like Larry O’Donnell.

    For example, I have heard that one of the cardinal rules of politics in DC is that “Nothing is settled until everything is settled.” Until that point, everything is all bargaining positions that don’t amount to squat. And it is also necessary to understand Congressional and Presidential kabuki.

    To understand the realpolitik of Congress at this point, the most instructive example is the Health Care Act. A lot of today’s cynicism is based on the story of that legislation, and legitimately so. But could Obama have actually achieved, say, Medicare for all? There was widespread support for it among the public, but what about Congress? Do we have a realistic assessment of that?

    I am not trying to position myself as an expert on this. In fact, I know squat. But I would like to hear more from those who DO know Congressional realpolitik.

    Bob in AZ

    • bmaz says:

      The answer is almost certainly no, Medicare for all was not achievable. No way, no how. But cutting the opt in age to 55 and/or enacting a public option that would have eventually led there was possible. Hard? Oh yeah, very hard; but possible if there had been a desire from the bully pulpit and intelligent and savvy tactics applied. No need to relitigate all that here; but you are right, it is a giant gray scale spectrum in DC. And it matters greatly where you position yourself and how you fight. Obama has been a disaster in this regard; not that he ever intended to be what he portrayed himself as being when running for office.

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