Politico, of all places (it is usually as pro-Obama as the mainstream media), has an excellent article on the White House war on Bob Woodward, based on a long interview with Woodward, who actually seems uncharacteristically confused by Obama’s behavior. “Color me a little baffled,” he says at the end. “I don’t understand this White House. Do you?”
Yes, Bob, I think I do. I know this will sound unreasonably partisan, but since I don’t think Obama is stupid I think the following is by far the best explanation of how he mishandled the failed “grand bargain” of 2011 — as detailed in Woodward’s book, The Price of Politics — and in the sequester mess that he created: he (or perhaps according to the White House, that should be He) doesn’t want a bargain or a deal. He would much prefer a calamity that would be bad for the country but that he could blame on the Republicans.
His first term was fairly characterized by Rahm Emanuel’s famous line about never letting a serious crisis go to waste. In his second he’s taking that strategy one step beyond: first create the crisis, then blame the Republicans for it.
That’s why I think all those who minimize the impact of the sequester, pointing out accurately enough that there’s no reason for such a small cut in the increase of government spending to cause the sort of disasters predicted by the White House, are likely to be proven wrong. Obama would much rather have a disaster — even ensuring it by executive action if the budget cuts don’t hurt enough on their own — and blame the Republicans than avoid the disaster in the first place.
In fact, he’s already begun — by blaming budget cuts for his administration’s releasing scores of detained illegal immigrants, and by blaming budget cuts for his refusal to deploy an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf, which Woodward described as “a kind of madness.”
No, it’s not madness. It’s tried and true Obama partisanship: preferring a disaster he can blame on the Republicans to making a deal to avoid the disaster. And, at least up to now, the mainstream media has happily served as his eager and willing enabler.