Thursday, December 20, 2012


I keep reading that the pathetic old Barack Obama is back, the one who loses because he negotiates with himself:
We have seen this so many times in the past four years that I certainly hope President Obama is not falling for it again.

Take a problem, any problem -- economic meltdown, debt ceiling, rising deficits, you name it -- which Republicans and Democrats are supposed to resolve through negotiation. Mr. Obama says he is ready to talk, and makes an initial offer that includes concessions to right-wing demands. Then he offers more concessions.

Republicans also claim they're ready to talk, and maybe in private they offer compromises (like we're told John Boehner did over the debt ceiling in 2011). But in public they stand firm on their positions, stick to their talking points and brush back whatever the president suggests as not enough.

Eventually they meet somewhere around the president's 20-yard line.

It's happening again, right now, in the fiscal cliff talks....
I keep reading that there's a better approach:'s the thing -- if you have to make concessions, at least make the other side own them. Here's what you do:

1) Only make concessions as part of a final deal....

2) Make the GOP own the stuff no one likes. Like chained CPI. You don't propose it yourself. You let THEM propose it....
Really? How do you that? By putting Republicans in a hopeless position? What the hell do Republicans consider a hopeless position?

Regardless of what polls say right now, Republicans don't fear the electoral consequences to their party of a "fiscal cliff" failure or a debt-ceiling default or any other real or overhyped cataclysm. They just got through an election in which the Obama turnout model prevailed, but what's coming up is a midterm election -- and Democrats showed no ability to turn voters out in 2010, while Republicans used precisely this kind of air of crisis to turn their voters out. And not just Republican voters, but the craziest, angriest subgroup of that voter base, the folks who, even now, make up the 41% of their party that doesn't want any compromise whatsoever.

They believe gerrymandering will ensure that they hold the House no matter what they do, even if they blow the economy up. They think they'll probably make gains in the Senate because they're defending only one blue-state seat and Democrats are defending seven red-state seats.

They saw how Scott Walker survived widespread public anger and a recall vote -- and they know that last month's election put the Wisconsin legislature completely in control of Republicans again, after legislative recall elections briefly tipped the Senate to the Democrats. And that was despite the Obama turnout machine's efforts. So Republicans feel electorally bulletproof. They feel they can weather anything short of, say, a 70%-30% groundswell against their positions (and, alas, we're nowhere near that) -- they assume that when the anger dies down, they'll just do the usual base-rallying, and all the angry white Foxheads and Limbaughnistas will save their hides yet again.

They don't care about this country. All they care about is winning. So -- except possibly on taxing the rich (and then only reluctantly, and barely) -- they don't feel any need whatsoever to propose compromises. You simply can't make them do it. They're perfectly happy to walk away and watch the whole thing burn. They don't believe they'll be punished at the polls. And so the president and the Democrats don't hold "all the cards," or even most of them.

The 2012 election didn't strike fear into the GOP. The only thing that might make them tremble would be a 2014 shellacking. In dealing with this crisis, we can't wait for that, assuming it can even happen.


Victor said...

Conservative SuperPAC money didn't work well nationally, but it sure worked on local, district, and non-Federal state races.

One question I have is, was that money used nationally poorly applied, or was their Presidential candidate so bad, that no amount of money spent could have guaranteed a victory? Or, maybe both?

Another question I have is, that while I'm glad the plan is to keep the Democratic GOTV people out there in the areas they've been successful - but what can we do to counter the Conservative SuperPac money applied to intra-state, gubernatorial, and Congressional elections?

Rich Democratic supporters didn't flock to fund the SuperPAC's like rich Conservatives did.
Is there a way to pry some of their money away in 2014, so that, if we can't take over the House, we can at least keep the status quo in both Houses?

The current Republican Party is, in at least my opinion, and I think others too, the least patriotic major political party in our history - at leat as it pertains to the public good. Narcissistic and, jingoistic, yes. But they show no concern for the overall health and well-being of the country as a whole.
I've quoted/paraphrased Dante many a time here, and I'll keep doing so until he's no longer applicable, but, 'They'd rather rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven.'

They are both terrorists and nihilists, in that there is no negotiating with either, and they don't fear any consequences. They want fear and anarchy - that is what fuels them and their supporters.

Some people scoffed a bit after this past election at the SCOTUS's CU decision, and how ineffective is was, since President Obama was reelected, and the Democrats made gains in the House, and kept the Senate.
But, take a look at state legislatures around the country. THAT is where the SuperPAC money was effectively used.

And, the fact that the MSM, and the Republicans themselves, believed that the Presidential election was close, may have prevented Republicans gains in the House and Senate, by diverting money effectively used in those races, back into the Presidential race.
So, we can scoff at the pollsters and MSM who didn't believe in weighing polling averages, but they may have saved this nation's bacon by their ignorance.

How do we Democrats effectively use SuperPAC money in 2014, to either win, hold the fort, or at least stem the tide, so that we don't have a '2010 Blowout Boogall" redux?
Can we get wealthy Democrats more involved SuperPAC's?
And, how, if they look at Mr. Adelson's ROI, do we sell them on that idea?
THAT's what I want to know.


Unknown said...

I agree with most of your analysis, Steve, but I have two questions:

1. It remains to be seen whether the Republicans, at some point before 1/1/13, might propose entitlement cuts. Even if they don't, enough of their leadership has publicly advocated SS and Medicare cuts that the Dems could use this as a 2014 issue the Dems don't blunt it by doing what Obama did in offering chained CPI.

2. Your analysis of GOP nihilism is beyond dispute, but what is your recommended strategy for reaching what you see as the only way to take the nuts -- a win in 2014? Right now it looks like any strategy leads to GOP gains in 2014: (1) as you point out, going over the cliff leads to GOP gains because economic collapse will likely be blamed on the Dems; (2) conceding on entitlements also leads to GOP gains along the 2010 "$500B from Medicare" lines.

My only thought is a publicity campaign to try to highlight the craziness of the GOP -- a Presidential speech laying out the the Dems are the protectors and the GOP the assailants of SS and Medicare; then an ad campaign targeting competitive districts highlighting the GOP reps. votes on the Ryan plan or whatever they might vote for now.

But what is your recommendation?

Unknown said...

(edit -- "take 'out' the nuts" (electorally)

Steve M. said...

To Victor:

It's hard. Democrats have to nationalize the midterms and the state and local races. Obama can spearhead that, which is what worked for George W. Bush in 2002, and Obama can make sure the party gets the benefit of his team's turnout techniques.

But that's not a long-term strategy. What would work long-term would be an effort at all times, not just during election season, to keep liberal and moderate voters focused on the extremism of the GOP. The Republican brand must be effectively destroyed. The GOP has to become, in the eyes of even low-information liberals and moderates, what ACORN is to the right.

That's a tall order. It would require a media machine that was as relentless as the Fox/talk radio death star and as popular. I don't know how you get there.

Either that, or the GOP will have to destroy itself, by becoming even more extreme, even as the voters who like its extremism die off. That could happen, but as it's happening the country will get worse before it gets better.

Steve M. said...

Peter, I wrote the above comment before I saw yours, but I think it partly addresses your second point. I like the idea of the president himself leading a general anti-GOP campaign -- though it doesn't seem to be Obama's style, even when he's feisty. But maybe some other Democrats?

As fore #1, I don't think Republicans are ever going to propose specific entitlement cuts. They never propose any specific cuts to anything, except wholesale eliminations of departments/programs/grants (Education Department, PBS, Planned Parenthood), or trivial line items (some $100,000 grant to study cow flatulence, which may actually lead to real environmental knowledge, but sounds funny).

The New York Crank said...

I'm putting on my helmet and lifejacket in the expectation that we're going over the cliff.

Alas, my fear (and I suspect the Republican hope) is that Obama will flinch and cave into them, as he in effect already has with his chained CPI "concession," — actually the first step toward strangling Social Security in the bathtub..

If the President finches, we're all doomed.

Crankily yours,
The New York Crank