JONATHAN COHN DECEMBER 5, 2011
[with contributions from Matt O'Brien and Darius Tahir]
Want to know who’s winning a political fight? See which side is arguing about policy and which side is arguing about tactics. The side arguing about the policy is winning. Right now, in the fight over economic policy, that’s Obama and the Democrats.
You could see a great illustration of this over the weekend, on Sunday’s edition of “Meet the Press.” (Clip above.) David Axelrod, adviser to Obama, was hammering the Republicans for standing in the way of a payroll tax extension. In response, Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, emphasized that Obama had become a divider, not a uniter, violating the promise he made as a candidate in 2008.
Whatever you think of the arguments, this represents a shift. Not that long ago it was Obama who kept talking about tactics, calling for bipartisanship and cooperation, while Republicans stuck almost exclusively to attacking Obama over his policies. Oh, you can still hear Obama complaining about Republican behavior -- and you can certainly still hear Republicans attacking Obama for his "socialist policies." But the rhetorical emphasis of each side has changed.
Of course, what happens next is impossible to know. The chaos of the Republican primaries has Democrats and their supporters giddy. They shouldn’t be. Obama is vulnerable because the economy is weak. And the economy could get even weaker, given what’s happening in Europe. It's encouraging that Obama and the Democrats have the upper hand. That doesn't mean they will for long.
Multiple-choice Mitt: Now he likes the payroll tax cut extension. I guess. Via Benjy Sarlin of TPM.
Motown mojo: The city of Detroit may be in trouble, but the auto industry keeps looking stronger. Bloomberg has details.
An Obamacare nothingburger: Matt Yglesias teaches George Will about the Affordable Care Act.
Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account: Suzy Khimm in the Washington Post writes an article on the difficulties of getting the government to write its rules and regulations in plain language.
Absurdity watch: Seeking a way to circumvent the country’s ridiculous immigration rules, a Silicon Valley startup aims to provide a service to prospective tech entrepreneurs: we’ll provide a floating city in international waters for your hack-a-thons; you get the venture funding.
Stars, stripes, and dollars: How are America's rich different from the rich everywhere else? As Felix Salmon explains, they're much more tied to their home country
Candidate to watch: Feministing's interview with Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin Democrat running for Senate.
Market failure: Noah Smith explains why financial markets don't work like typical markets do.