” In contrast to intransigence on the right, which proudly proclaims its refusal to budge come hell or high water, the liberal Democrats’ brand of intransigence disguises itself as devotion to dialogue, conformity to morality, and reliance on reason. But their concept of dialogue is one-sided, the interpretation of morality constricted, and the progressive version of reason suffused with partisan judgments. The upshot is that progressives have managed to convince themselves that they are paragons of flexibility and open-mindedness while scorning those who diverge from the progressive party line.
President Obama exemplifies this sensibility. On the 2008 campaign trail he and his acolytes touted his ideological independence, inclination to reach across the aisle, and pragmatic approach to policy. And just the other day, in an interview with Politico, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi characterized the president as “open, practically apolitical, certainly nonpartisan, in terms of welcoming every idea and solution.” In reality, from the stimulus package and health care reform to the current Syria debacle, Obama’s favored approach to dealing with Republicans has been “my way or the highway,” even when, as in the case of Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, his way veers this way and that.
Meanwhile, our predominantly progressive press corps fuels progressive intransigence. For example, Obama and congressional Republicans reached an agreement last December in which each side could claim an important victory: Republicans impelled the president to make permanent the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of earners and the president forced Republicans to agree to tax increases on the highest-earning 2 percent.
Left-leaning pundits nevertheless disparaged GOP concessions as caving while praising the president for holding firm. That asymmetric message was bound to encourage intransigence in both camps but not in symmetrical fashion. Conservatives recognized that they will be damned if they do compromise and progressives saw that they will not be damned if they don’t.”