The Politics Of Grand Bargaineering

Paul Krugman slams President Obama’s continued pursuit of a “grand bargain” with the GOP, and Jon Chait points out that there’s an obvious alternative negotiating strategy that will result in higher revenues. But David Brooks hails the grand bargain.

I don’t think it’s that hard to see what’s going on here. Obviously neither Chait nor Krugman is going to vote for Mitt Romney no matter what Obama does or how bad the economy is. And while Brooks will almost certainly vote for Romney over Obama, I think it’s easy to imagine him voting for Obama over Michele Bachmann. To my mind, producing a robust economic recovery would be a much sounder re-election strategy than seeking the approval of center-right opinion leaders. But insofar as the president has embraced economic fatalism, this doesn’t look like an option. Desire to court center-right opinion elites has been a part of Obama’s approach since his arrival in the US Senate. At times, though, he’s put a higher priority on things like enacting a stimulus bill or getting congress to pass a universal health care law. This summer, the train’s headed in the other direction. I think this is, in fact, “11-Dimensional Chess.” It’s just that it’s 11-Dimensional Chess whose purpose is to achieve a legislatively viable grand bargain rather than to achieve the most left-wing possible policy outcome.