By Fareed Zakaria
The air is thick with liberal disappointment. In the days after the debt deal, liberal politicians and commentators took to the airwaves and op-ed pages to mourn the agreement. But their ire was directed not at the Tea Party or even the Republicans but rather at Barack Obama, who they concluded had failed as a President because of his persistent tendency to compromise.
As the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait brilliantly points out, this criticism stems from a liberal fantasy that if only the President would give a stirring speech, he would sweep the country along with the sheer power of his poetry. In this view, writes Chait, “every known impediment to the legislative process—special interest lobbying, the filibuster, macroeconomic conditions, not to mention certain settled beliefs of public opinion—are but tiny stick huts trembling in the face of the atomic bomb of the presidential speech.”
But the idea abides. On Aug. 9, the MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan raged on TV that Obama should just give such a speech, overriding Congress and taking charge. But the most revealing moment came minutes after Ratigan’s rant, when his panel of experts pressed him as to what specifically he would want Obama to do once he had usurped power. Ratigan’s answer: allow corporations to re patriate their overseas profits (presumably by reducing or waiving corporate taxes on the money) to fund a national infrastructure bank. So the great liberal dream is that Obama propose something that he has already proposed and fund it by giving multinationals a tax break.