In the final press conference of his first term, President Obama re-enforced his strong preference for an imperial presidency when he said he wouldn’t negotiate over the debt ceiling … again. This has been a favorite tactic of the president’s: he refuses to talk about issues on which Congress has initial control. “What I will not do is have that [debt ceiling] negotiation with a gun at the head of the American people,” said Obama.
This language was carefully calibrated. Obama understands that in the aftermath of Newtown, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, gun talk frightens Americans. And by invoking the specter of violence and linking it with Republican desire to cut spending, Obama casts Republicans as evil folks who want to commit financial murder.
But Obama wasn’t done with his description of Republicans as evil-hearted fiscal terrorists: “They can act responsibly, and pay America’s bills or then can act irresponsibly, and put American through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy.”