The self-deluding meme of a ‘weak Obama’

As soon as the debt ceiling deal was announced, progressives from the Left immediately attacked President Barack Obama’s so-called capitulation to the Tea Party, with liberal columnist Paul Krugman calling it “an abject surrender.” This surrender, progressives argue, has weakened Obama and raises questions about his reelection chances.

But here is the problem with this meme of an unwilling, weak-willed (or to quote a friend of mine, “ball-less”) Obama capitulating to the evil Tea Party: it is simply not true. One only has to look past the current political theater being played out to recognize Obama’s gleeful abuse of the enormous power he wields.

As pointed out by Arthur Silber:

When one considers the destructive powers of the weapons at his command, as well as the bloodily murderous enthusiasm with which he uses them, and when one contemplates the enormous powers he enjoys entirely apart from and in addition to those weapons, it will easily be seen that Obama is the single most powerful individual in the entire history of humankind.

Even ignoring the widespread reports that it was the White House that first suggested cuts to Social Security and the ridiculous back-and-forth in the debt ceiling debate, many of Obama’s policies that progressives disagree with have not been provoked or been the result of Republican political machinations.

Was it Republicans that pressured a weak-willed Obama to ignore the law and bomb Libya? Was it the tea party that pressured Obama to wage the White House’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers? Was Obama being “ball-less” when he went after Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks or when his Justice Department decided not to prosecute Bush’s torture criminals? I guesss it was Boehner and Cantor that forced Obama to increase the drone attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Was Obama being weak and incompetent when he claimed the right to assassinate Americans extra-judicially?

To summarize, Obama’s decidedly anti-progressive policies have been and always been his own.

The belief that Obama is weak is self-delusional. Obama, with the help of a complicit Congress, has greatly expanded the powers of the executive branch and edged that office closer to an imperial presidency. Small government Republicans, progressive Democrats, and the libertarian-leaning faction of the tea party underestimate Obama at their peril. As I have said before, Obama is not just Bush Lite; he is Bush Squared.

UPDATE: Of course, Glenn Greenwald pointed this myth out two days ago.