UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF A COMPROMISE…. Conservative pundits haven’t quite settled on a position when it comes to the tax policy agreement crafted by the White House and congressional Republicans. As is the case with like-minded lawmakers, they seem to think President Obama secured a little too much help for the middle class, but these pundits haven’t launched a crusade against it, either.

But some areas of criticism are less coherent than others. In the Wall Street Journal today, Kimberly Strassel is troubled by the fact that the president doesn’t like the parts of the compromise he disapproves of. (via Jon Chait)

The president takes absolute credit for forging this deal; he also absolutely blames Republicans for forcing it to happen. The president wants the nation to know that this is a good example of “compromise” and ‘bipartisan agreement”; he also wants the nation to know that Republicans are “hostage- takers,” that they cannot see beyond their “Holy Grail” of tax cuts, that their position is “wrong,” and that he takes exception to the whole process.

This tax package, says the president, “is the right thing to do for our economy” — except for what Republicans demanded (most of it), which won’t “be good for the economy.”

I don’t understand what Strassel doesn’t understand.

As far as the president is concerned, the negotiations shouldn’t have been necessary — Congress should have approved his popular tax-cut package. Democrats’ misjudgment on timing and Republicans’ undying love for lower top rates for the rich, however, made the talks necessary. The GOP was holding what he wanted — breaks for the middle class — hostage.

So, Obama agreed to a deal he wishes he didn’t have to strike, which he and many economists believe will benefit the economy.

One can agree or disagree with the deal on the merits, but is it really so hard to understand how the president could like the parts of the deal he pushed, while at the same time disapprove of the parts of the deal Republicans pushed?

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.