The president’s little hissy fit yesterday over the tax cuts deal seemed almost perfectly designed to inflame angry feelings among his own base while ensuring he gets no goodwill from the other side. In other words, all the downsides of compromise and none of the benefits (well, almost none — as I’ve argued before, things would be worse for him if taxes actually went up).
Politically, Obama is starting to look like what in sports is known as a frontrunner: someone who plays almost flawlessly while ahead, but can’t play from behind. The obvious counterargument to this is that he ran a great campaign for the Democratic nomination while Hillary was still way ahead in the polls. But Hillary’s lead was based on name recognitition and inertia more than anything else. This time, Obama is playing from behind due to his own faults.