A drunk winds his way home. A few short steps from the entry door he turns slightly from the pathway and eventually bangs his head against a tree lining the walk. Turning completely around he walks until he ca-rooms his head against the opposite tree lining the pathway home. Once again he turns completely around until he bangs his head against the first tree he hit. Again he turns completely around and eventually bangs his head against the earlier banged tree. “Oh help me God – I’m lost in an impenetrable forest.”
That is the story of the Republican opposition to Barack Obama. That typical bang up job by Republicans was on schedule to be repeated in the fiscal cliff spitball fight of this December. But a funny thing happened.
The Republicans, especially the hapless Speaker Boner, found themselves in an impenetrable forest of their own imaginations. They banged their heads repeatedly. Then, perhaps it was a Christmas Miracle, they got tripped up and ended up at the front door and home. These stupid drunks stumbled their way home and out of the forest they created.
Foolishly, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mitt Romney and most of the Republican leadership never understood how correct our assessment is. They continue to try to speak the language of policy and economic common sense when all Obama cares about is himself and his “brand”.
Republicans were poised to cave on their principles and hand Barack Obama a major victory without a fight. The reasons for the cave were fear they would be blamed for disaster in the wake of the fiscal cliff jump and be punished at the ballot box in 2014. In 2014!
Republicans feared Big Media would blame them! Imagine that! Big Media was going to defend Barack Obama and attack his opponents no matter what happened. But these Republican drunken fools somehow figured that a population that cannot figure out Haley Berry is nuts after her latest domestic horrors would somehow remember the fiscal cliff of 12/12 and punish Republicans even in the Republican bastions which have secured them a House majority. So Republicans like John Boner went to negotiate with Barack Obama.
That must be powerful moonshine Big Media is serving and Speaker Boner is drinking. Imagine entering negotiations with Barack Obama! Those of us who have successfully negotiated deals know that you can only make a deal with people who can be trusted to do what they say. There has to be good faith bargaining from both sides in any negotiation that is worthy of that description.
Speaker Boner entered into negotiations with Barack Obama as if Obama could be trusted. This is what we wrote earlier this month about the fiscal cliff:
“Republicans will get blamed by Obama and Big Media for anything bad that happens or has ever happened or ever will happen. That’s what Obama does – blame everyone but himself.
What Republican leaders must realize is that if they are going to get blamed they might as well get blamed for fighting for their principles. Not fighting for principles will only lead to infighting within Republican ranks as “compromisers” and “purists” (that’s how Big Media will label the factions) battle it out for control of the party in the wake of the “cave-in” to Obama. Rank and file conservatives and other Obama opponents will be correctly discouraged from standing up for a party that won’t stand up for its principles. [snip]
If the Republican Party caves in to Barack Obama’s thuggery they will have effectively decided to jump the shark into obscurity.”
Republicans were set to jump the shark in an impenetrable forest of trees. But they stumbled their way home.
The Wall Street Journal published a bang by bang account of Speaker Boner lost in the forest of his imagination:
“Mr. Boehner had been negotiating a deal with the White House to let tax rates rise for upper-income people.
Mr. Boehner, irritated with the White House, was finding it hard to keep his troops in line as details of his negotiations with Mr. Obama leaked out. [snip]
The negotiations offer little evidence November’s election brought the president and House Republicans closer together. If anything, the talks poisoned an already distrustful relationship.“
It took a while but the too trusting Speaker came to his senses: Obama cannot be trusted. Obama’s thuggery is what woke many up and saved the Republicans from destroying themselves and providing Obama a victory:
“Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.
At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”
“You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”
After the election, Boehner aides tried to shape the debate by offering early concessions, including that the GOP would agree to raise new tax revenue. [snip]
He and Mr. Obama didn’t sit down together for another 10 days. The session began genially. But tension quickly emerged over the president’s call to include increasing the U.S.’s borrowing limit in any final package.
Responded Mr. Boehner: “I’ve found in my life that everything I’ve ever wanted has come with price.”
Mr. Obama told the speaker he wasn’t willing to play games with the debt ceiling. [snip]
The White House made clear it wouldn’t agree to a plan that didn’t raise some tax rates immediately. [snip]
The president repeatedly reminded Mr. Boehner of the election results: “You’re asking me to accept Mitt Romney’s tax plan. Why would I do that?” At another point, the speaker noted his GOP majority would also return next year.”
Speaker Boner should have told Obama to go right ahead and start his second term with a dull inaugural speech filled with attacks. Boner should have told Obama to launch a State of the Union attack so that he could reply in kind. In a smart negotiation you take the opponent’s threats and turn them against him/her.
Speaker Boner did not negotiate with smarts. The Speaker was reasonable while Obama made threats. Obama the thug used thuggery:
“On Dec. 13, Mr. Boehner went to the White House at the president’s request, joking he was going to the woodshed.
The president told him he could choose one of two doors. The first represented a big deal. If Mr. Boehner chose it, the president said, the country and financial markets would cheer. Door No. 2 represented a spike in interest rates and a global recession.
Mr. Boehner said he wanted a deal along the lines of what the two men had negotiated in the summer of 2011 in a fight over raising the debt ceiling. “You missed your opportunity on that,” the president told him.
That night, the speaker and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) decided to make the biggest concession so far.”
In any negotiation you must be willing to walk away. If you are so desperate for a deal that you will tolerate the status of a beggar – you have already lost. Chicago thug Barack Obama understands this but made the mistake of jamming Speaker Boner’s face onto the pile of sh*t the Speaker and Republicans were being ordered to accept.
Speaker Boner made more concessions. The news from Connecticut provided Obama with another opportunity to flim and flam. Finally Speaker Boner got a clue:
“Finally, the speaker said, “Well, you and I can sit here and stare at each other,” or he could leave and they would talk later.
Back in the Capitol, Mr. Boehner told Mr. Cantor the president wasn’t moving. They agreed to call him. [snip]
Administration officials expected a few more days of back-and-forth, but the speaker thought the prospects were dim for a big deal. [snip]
“I’m going to keep the proposal on the table,” he said of the broader deal. “As I told the president, I’m not making an ultimatum. The offer stays on the table, even if we move on Plan B.”
His lieutenants made clear they preferred Plan B to the one Mr. Boehner was trying to broker.
The speaker called the president with news the House would move ahead with the backup bill, which would preserve Bush-era rates for all income below $1 million. The president was incensed.“
It was long past time to walk away. Force Barack Obama to finally get to work and construct a deal was what the Republicans should have said from the very beginning.
What was the essential stupidity in all this fiscal cliff drama? Answer: It is Obama who should be begging for a deal and it is Republicans who hold the cards. The L.A. Times analysis provides some facts and numbers:
“In the days immediately after President Obama’s reelection victory, White House officials hoped that in a second term he might have better relations with congressional Republicans. The “fever will break,” more than one Obama aide forecast.
The last several days have demonstrated the opposite. Washington remains caught in a partisan stalemate on the budget, seems headed toward another on gun control and perhaps one on immigration policy as well.
That gridlock could inflict significant damage to the Republican Party. But Obama’s ability to manage an ambitious agenda in his new term also hangs in the balance.“
The Republicans or any Obama opponent will be attacked and race-baited by Big Media and other Obama allies no matter what. Ignore the attacks. Republicans worried about electoral consequences in particular should remember that the next elections are in 2014 not in a few months and that those elections, as in 2010, will be played in some very red states.
Republicans in the House and Senate must also realize that their sole task is obstruction – just like the “scorched earth” resistance from Russian peasants during World War II. It’s Obama that has an agenda he wants to pass and therefore it is Obama that has to beg for a deal:
“Stalemates in Congress “may not affect his popularity all that much, but it will affect his ability to govern, if you define ability to govern as your ability to move your policy agenda forward,” said Bill Galston, a former domestic policy advisor to President Clinton. [snip]
To some degree, Obama’s difficulties in striking a budget deal with congressional Republicans are a reflection of the reality of his political position: He leads a nation that remains both deeply polarized and closely divided, as it has been for many years. He won reelection by only half the margin of his 2008 victory and with very limited coattails; the returning Republican majority in the House was barely dented by losses at the polls.
Of the GOP members in the incoming House, 219 come from districts carried by Mitt Romney, according to a Cook Political Report calculation. Add nine Democrats from districts carried by Romney, and a clear majority of the 435-member House hails from places where Obama lost.”
Consider that last paragraph. Control of the House requires 218 votes. Mitt Romney was the winner in districts which sent 219 Republican representatives to the House. Republicans can only lose in 2014 if they lose support from those who want opposition to Barack Obama.
Perhaps Speaker John Boehner should send a Christmas gift to Barack Obama. The gift should be a map of all the districts that sent a Republican to the House from districts Obama lost – 219 in all. The map should be emblazoned on a picture of a lame duck – which Obama will immediately be if he jumps off the fiscal cliff. The gift will have to be sent to Hawaii where Obama is on vacation golfing, again.