July 19, 2011

THE SAME FOLKS WHO STOPPED IMMIGRATION REFORM AND TRIED TO STOP THE BANK BAILOUT:

The Republican Retreat (ROSS DOUTHAT, 7/19/11, NY Times)

In the space of a few days, a party that once looked capable of pressing the White House into a deal that would have left liberals fuming found itself falling back on two less-palatable options instead: either a procedural gimmick that would try to pin the responsibility for raising the ceiling on President Obama, or a stand on principle that would risk plunging the American economy back into recession.

What went wrong? It turns out that Republicans didn't have a plan for transitioning from the early phase of a high-stakes political negotiation, when the goal is to draw stark lines and force the other side to move your way, to the late phase, in which the public relations battle becomes crucial and the goal is to make the other side seem unreasonable, intransigent and even a little bit insane.

Winning the later phase doesn't require making enormous compromises, or giving up the ground you've gained. But it requires at least the appearance of conciliation, and a few examples of concessions that you're willing to (oh-so-magnanimously) make to those unreasonable ideologues in the other party.

For Republicans, this would have required one of two maneuvers: either modestly scaling back the size of the spending cuts they were seeking, or finding a few places in the tax code (the ethanol tax credit? the carried-interest loophole? those corporate jets the president keeps talking about?) where they could live with raising revenue by eliminating a tax break or capping a deduction.


The number of safe seats in the House means that both parties have numerous members--even majorities--who don't need to even try to govern, they can just play politics. And it's in their personal interest for the UR to be re-elected. They were never unhappier than with W in office.


Posted by at July 19, 2011 9:41 PM
  

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