STEP ONE: Liberals will declare that cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits - including raising the eligibility age or introducing "means-testing" - are absolutely unacceptable, that they will never support any bill that does so no matter what other provisions it contains, that they will wage war on Democrats if they try.
STEP TWO: As the deal gets negotiated and takes shape, progressive pundits in Washington, with Obama officials persuasively whispering in their ear, will begin to argue that the proposed cuts are really not that bad, that they are modest and acceptable, that they are even necessary to save the programs from greater cuts or even dismantlement.
STEP THREE: Many progressives - ones who are not persuaded that these cuts are less than draconian or defensible on the merits - will nonetheless begin to view them with resignation and acquiescence on pragmatic grounds. Obama has no real choice, they will insist, because he must reach a deal with the crazy, evil GOP to save the economy from crippling harm, and the only way he can do so is by agreeing to entitlement cuts. It is a pragmatic necessity, they will insist, and anyone who refuses to support it is being a purist, unreasonably blind to political realities, recklessly willing to blow up Obama's second term before it even begins.
STEP FOUR: The few liberal holdouts, who continue to vehemently oppose any bill that cuts Social Security and Medicare, will be isolated and marginalized, excluded from the key meetings where these matters are being negotiated, confined to a few MSNBC appearances where they explain their inconsequential opposition.
STEP FIVE: Once a deal is announced, and everyone from Obama to Harry Reid and the DNC are behind it, any progressives still vocally angry about it and insisting on its defeat will be castigated as ideologues and purists, compared to the Tea Party for their refusal to compromise, and scorned (by compliant progressives) as fringe Far Left malcontents.
STEP SIX: Once the deal is enacted with bipartisan support and Obama signs it in a ceremony, standing in front of his new Treasury Secretary, the supreme corporatist Erskine Bowles, where he touts the virtues of bipartisanship and making "tough choices", any progressives still complaining will be told that it is time to move on. Any who do not will be constantly reminded that there is an Extremely Important Election coming - the 2014 midterm - where it will be Absolutely Vital that Democrats hold onto the Senate and that they take over the House. Any progressive, still infuriated by cuts to Social Security and Medicare, who still refuses to get meekly in line behind the Party will be told that they are jeopardizing the Party's chances for winning that Vital Election and - as a result of their opposition - are helping Mitch McConnell take over control of the Senate and John Boehner retain control of the House.
With last night's results, one can choose to see things two ways:
(1) emboldened by their success and the obvious movement of the electorate in their direction, liberals will resolve that this time things will be different, that their willingness to be Good Partisan Soldiers depends upon their core values not being ignored and stomped on, or
(2) inebriated with love and gratitude for Obama for having vanquished the evil Republican villains, they will follow their beloved superhero wherever he goes with even more loyalty than before. One does not need to be Nate Silver to be able to use the available historical data to see which of those two courses is the far more likely one. Read more >>