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A Geometry Lesson

But criticizing Democrats and Republicans simultaneously isn't "triangulating" anymore than standing on the middle-point of a line segment creates a triangle.

Here's triangulator-in-chief Dick Morris. "Triangulate, create a third position, not just in between the old positions of the two parties but above them as well. Identify a new course that accommodates the needs the Republicans address but do it in a way that is uniquely yours."

That's not what happened this week. This week, Republicans demanded a bunch of things, Obama OKed many of them, provided a few Democratic priorities got thrown in to the mix, and the GOP agreed. Then Democrats and Obama got into a fight because they didn't think he drove a hard enough bargain. He disagreed.

Triangulating would have looked a bit more like this: "My conservative friends say we need to give rich people a permanent tax cut. My liberal critics want to raise their taxes now. Both are wrong. But their bickering is a symptom of our broken tax system, and I won't sign any legislation until Congress passes comprehensive tax reform modeled on the proposal put forth by the chairmen of my fiscal commission."

That would've been crazy. But also, triangulating.

About The Author

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Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com