By any standard, the fury directed at President Obama by his own party this week has been jaw-dropping. Forget that the object of their rage was "The One" who just two years ago sent thrills down the legs of everyone to the left of Michael Bloomberg. Forget that he was the leader who was going to usher in a new golden age of liberal gigantism. Consider only that Barack Obama is the sitting president and leader of the Democratic Party.
"F--- Obama," one congressional Democrat is reported to have snarled during a meeting to discuss the tax plan deal worked out with Republicans. Others in the room joined in a chant: "Just say no. Just say no." Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., the Senate's lone explicit socialist, described the deal as "an absolute disaster and an insult to the vast majority of the American people." Sanders promised to do "everything possible" to defeat the plan and staged a mini-filibuster -- speaking for more than eight hours on the Senate floor -- to dramatize his anger.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., pronounced herself "just staggered by the enormity of this package." And Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., described the compromise as "border(ing) on moral recklessness."
Commentators and activists were equally incensed. Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee: "There is zero tolerance among progressives for Democrats caving on an issue where 98 percent of the American people would be on their side."
The sense of outrage among Democrats seems to arise from the genuine conviction that extending the current tax structure is both morally and politically wrong.
On the politics, it's hard to see how they reach this conclusion. Speaker Pelosi could have scheduled a vote on extending the Bush tax cuts before the election. That she declined is evidence that a significant number of Democrats feared that a vote to raise taxes on anyone -- even just "the rich" -- might not serve them well back home. Have the angry Democrats who are convinced that this compromise was political poison looked at polls? According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 69 percent of Americans support the compromise package.