The latest on the debt ceiling impasse: Eric Cantor is claiming that Obama grew “agitated” in yesterday’s private meeting when Cantor insisted on a short term debt ceiling extension rather than a long term deal that falls short of what Republicans want. But Dems are pushing back, arguing that Obama simply told Cantor to drop the posturing: “Enough is enough.”
“Cantor’s account of tonight’s meeting is completely overblown,” a Dem aide emailed reporters last night. “Cantor rudely interrupted the President three times to advocate for short-term debt ceiling increases while the President was wrapping the meeting.”
The full quote according to the AP is: "Enough is enough. ... I'll see you all tomorrow", Obama dismissing Cantor's rude and incessant whining like you would wave away a bug as he left of the day. Cantor ran to the press because his massive smarmy ego was hurt, and thus another viral story is born. It appears that move has backfired on the Republicans, as their whole position is slowly coming unraveled in the eyes of many - and amazingly enough, so far it's being reported as such.
While the Dem aide above might want to downplay Obama's reaction, they may want to stop and consider what another official told Politico. Yeah, I know, it's an unnamed source in Politico, but listen to this:
“Obama lit him up. Cantor sat in stunned silence,” said an official in the meeting. “It was incredible. If the public saw Obama he would win in a landslide.”
It's exactly what the public needs to see. While we already have public opinion on taxes and the debt ceiling on our side (important caveat: except when it comes to cutting SS, Medicare and Medicaid), and, this episode goes a long way towards showing that the President is willing to take a stand, we still are back at square one and looking at massive cuts in spending that will cause more job loss and in turn continue to erode confidence in the economy. We've already got Rove's Crossroads propaganda machine in action on the airwaves on the economy issue, and the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity are out on the streets, trying to "townhall" gas prices as Obama's fault. The wheels of 2012 are already in motion in small but very visible ways.
Don't underestimate the insidious nature of the continuous smear campaign. The public may blame the GOP for posturing on the debt ceiling, but the entire end-game is the one we need to worry about. Greg Sargent parses a new Quinnipiac poll, and finds the ultimate truth:
There are some bad numbers in here for Obama. Large numbers say his approach will impact the middle class and disapprove of his handling of the economy and deficit, and economic pessimism is running high. The economy may very well trump all in the end, reducing the debt ceiling brawl to minor sideshow status.
But when it comes to the debt limit impasse that’s now consuming Washington, the public now seems to generally view the argument on Obama’s terms.
The public would probably come around to viewing the economy and budget (remember, that's a separate fight) on Obama's terms as well - but he needs to make those terms clear, and be willing to fight for them. And that includes strong backup from the Democratic Party, too. Anyone flinches because they are afraid for their seat or whatever, and you undermine the entire effort. Hope they remember that.
The debt ceiling is just one skirmish in the big war to come, and will be forgotten as soon as it's over. That's why endurance and simplicity of message is so important; the next shiny object will be along shortly, and chances are we will get to do this kabuki all over again.
And again. And again...