Obama will not compromise an inch on the debt ceiling, but don't you dare call him intransigent

A seriously flustered White House Spokesman Jay Carney struggles to explain to Jonathan Karl of ABC News why Obama’s rigid refusal to negotiate or compromise on the debt ceiling doesn’t make him the least bit responsible for the looming government shutdown:

 Thus is the White House reduced to the level of a petulant child.  If you don’t give the baby his bottle, and he knocks over a lamp during his temper tantrum, why, it’s your fault that lamp broke.

I think Obama and his political team are seriously overestimating this weakened President’s ability to dominate the debt ceiling battle with his imperial presence.  He’s not going to be able to run the same game he did during the fiscal cliff drama.  He’s already back to demanding more tax increases, when the American public clearly remembers giving him tax increases last time.  He’s on shaky ground after the Syria debacle.  His economy is still a feebly twitching corpse, and nobody’s really buying the “blame Bush” nonsense any more.  It’s amazing Obama was able to make that work as long as he did, but it’s not surprising that it would go stale soon after his re-election. 

There is real, genuine antagonism to ObamaCare among much of the public, which doesn’t guarantee a Republican win by any stretch – a beaten populace with low expectations might just shrug and accept O-care as inevitable, no matter how much it stinks – but it doesn’t put the President in a strong position to pull out all the stops to protect it.

Obama’s bitter, hyper-partisan speech on the day of the Washington Navy Yard shooting was a hideous mistake, the kind of misstep he didn’t make when he had real confidence and popularity.  His strategy has always revolved around accumulating a huge mountain of political capital and intimidating Republicans with its shadow.  This was made easier by their refusal to make him actually spend any of it.  I’ve been hammering the importance of doing that.  Jonathan Karl has given the GOP a nice little demonstration of how it’s done.