At best, House Democrats' rage at the Obama tax bill is a principled last gasp
on behalf of liberal ideals. At worst, they're whining, kicking and screaming their way to the margins
as Obama turns them into the foil for his newfound centrism.
Either way, Republicans and even some Democrats say, the need to act out
reveals that liberals are in a state of denial
Obama this week called liberal critics “sanctimonious”
and criticized them for staking out “purist positions.” And the final insult
may have come Friday, when Bill Clinton
, the ultimate centrist, dominated the White House podium for 30 minutes laying out a staunch defense of the tax bill
[Liberals] blame Obama's communications team, his perceived lack of involvement in their races and an electorate that didn't, or couldn't, understand the value of the work Democrats in Washington were doing. They’re blaming everybody but themselves
Outnumbered moderates could do little but groan and roll their eyes at the display
But as they throw a tantrum
over a tax compromise that stands little chance of being rejected in the end, liberals risk further isolating themselves from a new political paradigm
in which Obama, congressional Republicans and a healthy contingent of more moderate Democrats have coalesced around the package of tax cuts and unemployment benefits.
Centrist Democrats warn that their liberal counterparts could do enough damage to themselves and to Obama
to reassure independent
voters who cast ballots for Republicans this year.
One senior Democratic aide said the tax proposal is “going to pass” and that the liberal complaining is “just going to make us look that much more irrelevant”
in the end.
For some Democrats, the histrionics would be funny if they weren't so potentially devastating politically
The anger remains palpable -- over both policy and a process that essentially cut House Democrats out of the equation. But they might as well get used to getting nothing and liking it
-- because they're not necessary in the new governing paradigm.