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I just finished watching the President's press conference (thank you, CSPAN online), and all I can say is, "well said." It was strong, and regardless of what some may say, the blame was properly placed on the Senate Republicans, who were accurately described as hostage-takers.

I know that many will focus on the President's rebuke of Democratic purists, which was strong but in fact deserved (we're not all that tolerant of purity trolls here on DKos, are we?), but here's what I heard: he very clearly explained exactly why he did what he did, and why he needed to do so now. The message was straightforward: Senate Republicans would sacrifice anything for tax cuts for the wealthy (their "holy grail"), but he was not willing to let needy Americans be their sacrifice.

My favorite part was when he responded to Chuck Todd's question about rewarding Republican obstructionism. The President said,

"I've said before that I felt that the middle-class tax cuts were being held hostage to the high-end tax cuts. I think it's tempting not to negotiate with hostagetakers unless the hostage gets harmed. Then, people will question the wisdom of that strategy. In this case, the hostage was the American people, and I was not willing to see them get harmed. Again, this is not an abstract political fight."

That's where we were before yesterday: millions of unemployed Americans and those in the lower and middle classes who are employed but need tax relief and economic stimulus being held hostage like customers in a bank robbery by all Senate Republicans and a few disgraceful Democrats and "independents." (Of course, the failure of Harry Reid and the Democratic leadership to change the filibuster rules over the last few years was akin to putting a big sign on the bank saying "Rob us.") Those hostages needed to be brought to safety first, even if it meant giving the robbers a helicopter ride off the roof. There would be plenty of time to scramble the fighters and bring down the criminals after the hostages were rescued.

Consider as well the responses to hijackings. Before 9/11, the doctrine was clear: cooperate with the hijackers until the passengers could be gotten off the plane, then figure out the rest. The 9/11 model only changes that to the extent that the hijackers don't plan on living through the day, and that the passengers are willing to sacrifice themselves. Otherwise, the doctrine of cooperate, rescue and then capture remains the best approach.

So too here: if the President had failed to negotiate with the robbers in the Senate, they would have begun starving the hostages, who are not in a position to sacrifice themselves to the cause of Republican obstructionism. Instead, by pushing through this compromise, the President has (hopefully) enabled the unemployed and underemployed Americans to find their way to relatively safety. Now, it's only a battle for political, not actual, survival, with only elections rather than meals and homes at stake in the near term.

I hate what the President had to do, but I am damned proud of him that he did it. Now let's go get the criminals. {ProfJonathan}

UPDATE: Thank you all for your reasoned discussion, both agreeing and disagreeing, and for the rec list. {ProfJonathan}

Originally posted to JonathanEzor on Tue Dec 07, 2010 at 12:33 PM PST.

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