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The Great Moderate

by Ramesh Ponnuru

Obama’s self-image in the health-care fight

President Obama has returned to one of his favorite themes in response to the partial shutdown of the federal government and the prospect that the government might have to default on some of its debts. That theme: He is a moderate, reasonable, flexible, pragmatic guy who finds himself, sadly, in constant battle with conservatives who are none of these things.

Thus his comment in an interview with John Harwood on CNBC: “John, I think it’s fair to say that, during the course of my presidency, I have bent over backwards to work with the Republican party. And have purposely kept my rhetoric down. I think I’m pretty well known for being a calm guy. Sometimes people think I’m too calm. And am I exasperated? Absolutely I’m exasperated.” He is exasperated, that is, by how impossible the Republicans have made it to deal with them.

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