Editor's note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter.
(CNN) - "When they won't see the light," goes the old saying, "make 'em feel the heat." That was the strategy President Obama employed today in his press conference as he skewered Republicans over deficit negotiations. But where will it lead?
The president likely scored political points with two arguments. First, he skillfully made the case that in refusing to end tax breaks for oil companies, millionaires, and CEOs on corporate jets, Republicans are taking money away from hard-pressed Americans who need help. Who would want to do that?
After the conference went on so long that he seemed bored, Obama came alive with a question from CNN's Jessica Yellin about the debt ceiling. Speaking with exasperation, Obama argued that the debt ceiling is not some abstraction but "a jobs issue." Most analysts have talked about the debt ceiling in financial terms; Obama wisely tied it to jobs.
Repeatedly during the 70 minutes, Obama took snide jabs and belittled Republicans. He surely infuriated many of them. They won't appreciate being told they are not as responsible as his young daughters doing their homework. They especially won't like him saying they have been going home too much, and should stay in town to work on the deficits.
Who is he to take that poke, they will ask? Only a few days ago, a conservative columnist argued that Obama himself had gone to nine fundraisers in the previous two weeks while spending only an hour and a half with his Treasury secretary on the economy.
Such personal slights will only prompt Republicans in Congress to dig in their heels. They will insist - with justification - that mammoth deficits are due in large measure to a government that spends nearly a quarter of the GDP, the highest levels since World War II. Their voters have also told them they don't want any more tax increases. Republicans on the Hill will be more alienated from the White House after today's press conference.MORE
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