Storified by Brian Empric· Sun, Mar 10 2013 12:16:24
“Implicit in the wide range of efforts on the left to get government to take over more of our decisions for us is the assumption that there is some superior class of people who are either wiser or nobler than the rest of us.
“Yes, we all make mistakes. But do governments not make bigger and more catastrophic mistakes?”
“One of the key differences between mistakes that we make in our own lives and mistakes made by governments is that bad consequences force us to correct our own mistakes.”
“Too many among today's intellectual elite see themselves as our shepherds and us as their sheep… Tragically, too many of us are apparently willing to be sheep, in exchange for being taken care of, being relieved of the burdens of adult responsibility and being supplied with ‘free’ stuff paid for by others.”
“It's no secret that President Obama and his glamorous wife Michelle have worked hand in glove with Hollywood's power structure for years — from the White House's unauthorized access of classified information for the makers of ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ which was nominated for Best Picture, to the vast fundraisers President Obama holds in Beverly Hills.”
“… Hollywood these days is all about obtaining crony capitalist benefits from Obama's state. (Filmmaker Harvey) Weinstein even hired an Obama operative to drum up support for one of his movies to win the Best Picture award.”
“[A]longside the politicization of Hollywood, the Hollywoodization of politics is happening too… The Obama administration, unable to sell its socialist, statist ideas to the public, instead uses Hollywood's willing leftist filmmakers and actors to give its failures a patina of glamour and success.”
“It’s not beyond repair, advisers to both men maintain, but hardball politics have bred a share of hard feelings — leaving the two farther apart than any recent speaker or president in recent memory.”
“People close to the speaker say Boehner also thinks Obama is a nice guy — but the kind of nice guy addicted to the sound of his own voice, prone to long delivering pedantic ‘lectures,’ boasting about his superior political skills and fond of telling Boehner how to run his own political affairs.”
“The high point in the Obama-Boehner saga is easy to identify. After a shaky start — shortly after taking office, Obama rankled Boehner’s team by joking that the perma-tanned congressman was ‘a person of color’ — the pair agreed to negotiate a ‘grand bargain’ on deficits and entitlements following 18 holes of golf in June 2011… The low point is even easier to mark: It’s right now.
“Both men have all but ditched the idea of direct talks, after a revolt by conservatives against Boehner during December’s fiscal cliff talks. The speaker has declared that negotiations with the White House are pointless and Obama agrees, opting for a strategy of marshaling public opinion against the GOP in a series of campaign-style events.”
“Another Boehner pal is even blunter in bashing Obama, and it is clear that whatever goodwill once existed between the two men, it is rapidly disappearing… According to this GOP lawmaker, Boehner sees Obama as ‘absolutely unable to make a decision. ... He’s indecisive and doesn’t know how to lead.’”
“The goal is to flip the Republican-held House back to Democratic control, allowing Obama to push forward with a progressive agenda on gun control, immigration, climate change and the economy during his final two years in office, according to congressional Democrats, strategists and others familiar with Obama’s thinking.”
“Democrats would have to gain 17 House seats to win back the majority they lost in 2010, and their challenge involves developing a persuasive argument for why the party deserves another chance controlling both Congress and the presidency. In the last election, American voters reaffirmed the political status quo in Washington, choosing to retain a divided government.”
“Obama has committed to eight fundraisers for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this year, compared with just two events in 2009. The Democrats lost the House the following year, and Obama’s legislative agenda has largely stalled since then.”
“In early January, (Rep. Steve) Israel (chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) said, he met in Washington with Jim Messina, Obama’s reelection campaign manager and now head of Organizing for Action, also known as OFA. The subject was the 2014 midterms.”
“Two former Obama White House officials used the same word — ‘hubris’ — to describe what they viewed as the administration’s highly public and sometimes misleading turn against congressional Republicans in the days heading into the sequester.”
“Most (second-term presidents) have about two years to secure a domestic agenda before lame-duck status sets in. But Obama is laying out an argument for a new Congress that, if successful, could give him his last two years in office to cement his legacy.”
WSJ Review & Outlook notes that the White House was quick to push back against this report, “but that looks like an attempt at damage control after the Post blew the White House's cover… It's important to understand how extraordinary this is. Presidents typically try to secure major bipartisan deals in their fifth or sixth years, before their political capital ebbs… Bipartisan failure is their strategy.”
“[H]is campaign rhetoric undercuts his credibility with politicians of the opposite party and perhaps of his own.
“It's not that these people resent being criticized. They understand that that is part of the game… But the substance of the criticism suggests the president is not serious about public policy.”
“Demagoguery about preschool and corporate jets is not going to convince Republicans that Obama can be a reliable negotiating partner… Instead, it reinforces the evidence that he never will be.”
“No one can continue to assert that President Obama is simply incompetent. Yes, he is indeed that. Into his fifth year as president, America is worse under his command: Millions are still out of work — unemployment stands exactly where it was the day he took office; millions more are on food stamps; and despite his claim otherwise, the U.S. is less respected in the world than ever before.”
“There is little merit in arguments against spending cuts, and not a speck of support for the theory that America can tax itself out of its growing sinkhole. The federal government has simply grown too large, spends too much. We’re now borrowing 35 cents of every dollar we spend. Like any family faced with a shortfall of cash, the first — and, really, only — solution is to reduce spending. It’s not rocket science. And Americans are doing just that every day.”
“Rush Limbaugh has been saying for months that the president is not the least bit interested in the welfare of the country — instead, he wants to kill the Republican Party for good. And he’s right…”
“The last thing he cares about is the plight of American families. No, the president wants to gut the Republican Party so he can win back a majority in Congress in 2014 — and secure his legacy. And he’s fully prepared to spur chaos to get what he wants.”
“It is a clear change for a president who, during his first term, faced criticism from his left flank for being too conciliatory toward the GOP on healthcare reform and, later, during deficit battles. Liberal voices argued that Obama was mistaken in thinking the Republicans had any real interest in finding common ground.”
“Conservatives accuse Obama of being happier making airy claims and promises at campaign-style events than engaging in the nitty-gritty of governance. In particular, they suggest that his purported willingness to compromise to avert the sequester was vague at best and bogus at worst.”
“Of late, perhaps liberated by his relatively comfortable reelection win, Obama’s attitude is more akin to that of a general leading his forces into battle, confident that he can decimate the enemy.”
“Voices on the left have now, for the most part, fallen into contended silence. In their stead, Republicans are protesting about Obama’s supposed triumphalism.
“On the day after Obama’s second inaugural address, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told a meeting of the centrist Ripon Society that he believed the administration’s goal is to ‘annihilate the Republican Party.’”
“Tony Fratto (@TonyFratto), a former deputy press secretary for President George W. Bush, said that any evaluation of Obama’s second-term approach needs to acknowledge these nuances (with Obama’s strategy).
“I don’t think it’s some kind of second-term infusion of courage,” he said. “It’s very tactical in the way they deal with issues.”