Another way of looking at the real tax cut sellout is this: Who thinks John McCain would be president today had Barack Obama campaigned on a platform of full rollback of the Bush tax cuts?
I certainly don’t.
There’s plenty of reason to think full rollback would have polled poorly and been an unpopular position, but Obama would have won anyway. And that would have set up a dynamic in which a threat to veto full repeal could have been credible and a compromise around “middle class” extension might have been a viable legislative outcome. But by committing himself to the view that extension of the “middle class” component was vital, we set in motion the current chain of events.