When commentators spoke of the historic nature of the 2008 elections, I don't think they envisioned the history being made would be one invented controversy after the next.
Desperate to talk about anything other than the economy and his signature achievement, Obamacare, President Obama is left to toss out one distraction after the next in an attempt to rally (or frighten) voters to his side.
First it was the false and bizarre attacks that Republicans want to ban birth control and that Mitt Romney obviously hates women. Oh, and old people and Hispanics, too. Yes, his friend Paul Ryan would be shoving elderly people in wheelchairs over the cliff while also arresting people who want to buy ice cream. This was soon followed by Obama offering an over-the-top performance when it came to preventing a rise in student interest rate, a measure that had easy bi-partisan support all along. Yet Obama attempted to frame that issue as though he were the only one trying to stop the rise, and needlessly took his "official visit" message from one campus to the next.
Now, as the need for the extension of the Bush tax cut hits, Obama has created yet another false controversy in a battle he knows he is going to lose. His claim is simple enough: He wants to keep the tax cuts for everyone making under $250,000, and raise it for everyone else. He says this will help him keep his pledge not to raise taxes on those under $250,000, a promise already broken several times over.
But how do we know it is all election-year posturing? Obama says he only wants to extend those limited tax cuts for one more year, and then once he is re-elected he will introduce "real" tax reform. (Let's not forget he has been president for four years and has offered not a single tax reform measure. Well, accept for raising taxes on the middle class, of course.)
If we were talking about a long-term or permanent extension, a fight would be expected. But all he is proposing is a simple one-year waiting period before letting us know what his real tax plans are. He's also expressing his "real" concern about the deficit, something that would in no way be reduced by a one year extension. So why not just extend the whole thing, something he did in 2010 with unstoppable majorities in both the House of Representatives and the US Senate? He could have raised taxes then, but alas a decimated Democratic Party wasn't about to have it. There is also doubt that the current Democrat-led Senate would even pass such a deal, and the US House raising taxes is clearly out of the question.
But at least Obama will have his talking point for the next week. And then it will be on to the next non-existent controversy.