Tales from the Trail

Rising above politics … in Washington

December 7, 2010

RTXVGWL_Comp1-150x150President Barack Obama seems to want to rise above politics in the tax debate. Good luck with that.

When Obama announced the White House’s tentative tax deal with congressional Republicans, he said he had agreed to compromise rather than “play politics” at a time when Americans want problems solved.

The president gave every impression of bowing to the verdict that voters delivered on Nov. 2, when they evicted so many Democrats from their lodgings in the House of Representatives and handed the time-share keys to the Republicans.

But whether voters are grateful enough to reward Obama’s thoughtfulness in 2012 is another story.

Many Democratic voters are likely to be aghast at his willingness to accept continued tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.

Democratic lawmakers, mindful of those same voters, may show their own distaste for the deal by walking out on the debate. USA-POLITICS

“There’s a group that may walk and say at some point, you’ve gone too far,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told National Public Radio after Obama announced the tentative tax deal. “If the Republicans overreach, if they start including some of their pet projects into this compromise, when it comes to the tax code, you could find a walkout on the Democratic side, people saying you’ve just pushed it too far.”

Then there are the independent and Republican voters, some of whom love Sarah Palin.

How many would actually go to the polls for the former GOP vice presidential nominee remains to be seen. But Palin says she could beat Obama in a general election. And some might say she’s already winning an unusual war of words against the president.

The Global Language Monitor predicts the word ”Palinism” will play prominently in the world’s lexicon as the presidential race gets under way next year. A Palinism would be a malapropism like “refudiate,” for which the Tea Party darling is famous.

Nothing to be proud of, perhaps. But it could give Palin an edge against Obama in the strange realm of modern politics.

USA-POLITICS/DEBATEFor one thing, malapropisms like “misunderestimate” never seemed to hurt George W. Bush very much.

For another, ”Palinism” sounds way nicer than “Obama-mess,” the word the language monitor is ascribing to the president. Whether “Obama-mess” becomes the stuff of global verbiage in 2011 depends on whether Obama regains his “magic” or sinks further in the ratings, according to the group.

Gallup puts Obama’s current approval rating at 47 percent, which means he’s tied for next-to-last place with George W. Bush among modern presidents. Only Richard Nixon rates worse.

But predictions that misunderestimate him may be refudiated in the end.

Click here for more political coverage from Reuters.

Photo credits: Reuters/Jim Young (Obama); (U.S. Capitol); (Bush, Palin and Clinton Impersonators)

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