The Pragmatic President

Liberals are bewildered by Barack Obama. Why they shouldn't be

Carolyn Kaster / AP

The air is thick with liberal disappointment. In the days after the debt deal, liberal politicians and commentators took to the airwaves and op-ed pages to mourn the agreement. But their ire was directed not at the Tea Party or even the Republicans but rather at Barack Obama, who they concluded had failed as a President because of his persistent tendency to compromise.

As the New Republic's Jonathan Chait brilliantly points out, this criticism stems from a liberal fantasy that if only the President would give a stirring speech, he would sweep the country along with the sheer power of his...

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