President Obama has pretty much completely outsourced his negotiations on the government shutdown to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a move which pleases hard-core liberals in Congress, reported Alexander Bolton of The Hill this morning.
"This is a welcome change for Democrats who thought Obama was too accommodating to Republicans during previous crises," Bolton noted, adding, "Simply put, they believe less is more when it comes to Obama’s involvement in negotiations with the GOP" (emphasis mine):
Liberal Democrats do not fully trust Obama, in part because of his more diplomatic style. Their disquiet was deepened by his past tax deals with Republicans and repeated offers to trim Social Security and Medicare costs.
Obama alarmed some in the Senate Democratic caucus last week when he convened congressional leaders at the White House to discuss the government shutdown and looming debt-limit debate.
They feared he might take the lead in the talks and make concessions to get past the current fiscal crisis.
“There’s some concern being expressed now that Obama is calling the leaders to the White House that this might be premature,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, a senior Democrat from Iowa. “What’s he going to say? What’s he going to do?
“I hope he just says, ‘Harry’s the leader. We’re following Sen. Reid,’” he added.
Reid praised the president after the Wednesday meeting, reassuring colleagues.
“The president of the United States was very, very strong, strong, strong,” he said.
Democratic aides say Obama has served as a crucial backstop by refusing to negotiate over the debt limit and quickly issuing veto threats against House measures to defund, delay or otherwise erode the Affordable Care Act.
“There’s no question, Reid is now the quarterback,” said a Senate Democratic aide.
So a president of the United States has, out of concern from the most partisan elements of his party, dug in his heels, refused to negotiate with the opposing party, and trusts the hyper-partisan Harry Reid to do the play-calling for him on the budget negotiations.
Were this the playbook of a Republican president, you could hear the cries of outrage from the media over a dereliction of leadership and a kowtowing to extreme elements in his party. What's more, given the media's storyline on how Speaker John Boehner is held "hostage" by more conservative members of his conference, it's quite telling that the media won't paint President Obama as held hostage by inflexible liberals within members of his party.
Bolton's story is worth a read. You can check it out here.