Barack Obama is an infuriating man.
He is at times larger than life and at others embarrassingly small-minded.
He can console a nation when its children are gunned down, yet he is utterly careless when spending money belonging to the children who live on.
Our president is physically graceful, but he lacks grace entirely when victorious. Then, he is a bully and a braggart.
He can be lovable or deeply unlikable, depending on his mood.
On Monday, the president suggested that Republicans are "deadbeats" for wanting spending cuts commensurate with the amount of new borrowing they are being asked to rubber stamp.
"We are not a deadbeat nation," the president sniffed. "And so there's a very simple solution to this: Congress authorizes us to pay our bills."
Republicans "have two choices here," continued the man who is spending the nation into bankruptcy. "They can act responsibly and pay America's bills, or they can act irresponsibly and put America through another economic crisis. But they will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy."
That ransom, presumably, would be reductions in the amount of money we are stealing from our children each and every day.
The audacity of those tea party Republicans!
One wonders if Obama ever meant what he said about changing the tone in Washington. The way he is acting now suggests he did not.
Nothing is more maddening about this president, though, than his propensity to evade responsibility on the fundamental issue of our times -- the gargantuan federal debt -- and then seek to humiliate those earnestly trying to address it.
Actually there is one thing -- his evident glee in knowing that his Republican opponents will dash themselves against the rocks in an effort to slow the growth of spending. Indeed, how do Republicans win a rhetorical battle when the president of the United States, with all the trappings of his office, is willing to say things like: "If congressional Republicans refuse to pay America's bills on time, Social Security checks and veterans benefits will be delayed" -- as though there is no other option.
These are tactics unbecoming of a Chicago alderman, much less the POTUS. Obama would rather terrify 56 million Americans receiving Social Security benefits and retired U.S. military veterans than negotiate a single spending cut -- at a time when we are borrowing about a third of what we spend.
That's unconscionable, and beneath a man as blessed as this president.
President Obama has now made it clear that he intends to do nothing during his presidency about the debt, other than to double it from just over $10 trillion at the end of 2008 to just over $20 trillion in 2016, according to current estimates by the Senate Budget Committee minority.
And heaven help anyone in Washington who stands in the way of this president's spending. Those poor unfortunates will feel the full weight of his office, if not the weight of the bills we are accumulating. It's our kids who will feel those.
The president is bullying his way to a win with the debt ceiling vote, but he is diminishing his stature as a leader in the process.
William F. B. O'Reilly is a Newsday columnist and a Republican political consultant.