Pick a smear and go with it

PICK A SMEAR AND GO WITH IT…. The tragically embarrassing Michael Barone has decided that President Obama has resorted to “thuggery” in dealing with BP and the oil spill disaster. That seems consistent with the broader far-right push against the president — or at least half of it.

After all, what’s the conservative message about Obama? He’s not only a “thug,” the president and his team are also “bullies.” Obama isn’t above a “Chicago-style political shakedown.” Bachmann thinks he runs a “gangster government.”

The president, we’re told, is a hardball partisan operator, who doesn’t believe in compromise. One can almost imagine Obama in the Oval Office, polishing his brass knuckles.

Except, as digby reminded us, conservatives are simultaneously arguing that the president has adopted the exact opposite persona: he’s a professorial pushover. The conservative line includes phrases like “limp and weak” to describe the president. He’s not tough enough. He bows too much. He doesn’t instill enough fear.

Is it too much to ask that the right pick one? The president can be a vicious thug, intimidating his way into getting what he wants, or he can be a spineless weakling, intimidating to no one.

He can’t, however, be both.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.