Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why Hasn't Obama Negotiated?

At Day 1.X of the shutdown-showdown Allahpundit of Hot Air wants to know "Why hasn't Obama come back with a counter offer?"
What if, in response to the GOP’s demand for ObamaCare defunding, Obama decided to add an assault-weapons ban as his price for agreeing to fund the government? ...The GOP might actually agree to immigration reform in exchange for delaying O-Care for a year, but they’d never agree to an AWB and Obama knows it. But, precisely for that reason, it would be useful to him politically. ...  He could even say, “As soon as Republicans drop their ObamaCare demands, I’ll drop the assault-weapons ban. I’m only listing it as a demand now to prove a point.” 
He (apparently) tweeted some liberals who said "Obama doesn't negotiate with terrorists"--which (rightly) didn't satisfy him.

So now it falls to The Omnivore to answer the question, alas. So I'm gonna. Since this is tweeted directly to Allahpundit, let's be clear on a few things first:
  1. The Omnivore is horrified by the Debt Ceiling stuff. The Omnivore works in financial services and finds it fucking terrifying that this is "on the table" for the GOP. Messing with the Debt Ceiling could have catastrophic effects. Erza Klein isn't right about everything but he's freakin' right about this.
  2. The Omnivore thought Obamacare was unconstitutional. The Omnivore was sure of it. What happened when Justice Roberts found that it was a constitutional tax was this: The Omnivore figured that there was some pretty good argument for that which he is not qualified to overturn--not being a constitutional scholar nor Supreme Court justice. There's probably a lesson in there for a lot of conservatives but it's lost on The Omnivore right now.
  3. The Omnivore is no longer a true (TM) conservative. He thought he was--but has been told he's not enough to come to grips with the fact that conservatism has ... changed. Modernized, or something. It's no longer what it was when he was in favor of Wall Street and liked the idea of drone-striking the hell out of terrorists--or felt Congress went easy on Hillary (caring more about their various 2016 candidacies than determining if there was malfeasance over Bengazi. The Omnivore is a Marxist Liberal for not believing there was an actual conspiracy involved there).
Okay. I'll answer the question.

Obama Is Not Negotiating Because He Does Not Have To: YET
 I will tell you what you, and every 12 year old, knows to be true: "I do NOT negotiate with terrorists" is what you say when the terrorists have someone you don't really care about in their clutches. When they have the metaphorical gun to your metaphorical nuts ... you suddenly and surprisingly find you DO negotiate with terrorists ... even if you call it something else--and do it through back channels (see the UK's talks with Somali pirates).

So why isn't Obama counter-offering? Right now? Because he doesn't have to.

How come?

There are two (well, three) reasons: the first is that the polling supports him. It always has. This is the humiliating mark of sheer stupidity for the Defund set (which would include Ted Cruz if he was a member of the House. The moral is that you should always be very careful of someone who will avoid the consequences egging you on). The polling shows it. Rove's two-argument test shows it. History shows it.

If you have ever complained that the press has a liberal bias you  knew it. What's changed since you last complained about that? Nothing. So right now--as things stand--Obama knows he can stonewall and, as the favorables collapse like the vitals of a kindergartner shot by a mad-man's AR-15 the heat goes up and up for the GOP.

Oh, yeah: it probably goes up a bit for him too. Right: it dooms his 2016 re-election chances. Yeah. Okay.

So right now, as things stand, he doesn't need to offer anything and sane self-interested congressmen in non-safe districts will get nervous.

Okay, that's "1."

2: Obama has a better bully-pulpit than the GOP. He holds a press conference and EVERYONE shows up. He gets on prime-time. While Ted Cruz got people tuning into CSPAN (a first for many, I'm sure) it's not the same. If you didn't know this going in, I'm sorry. What can I say. There's this guy called The President and everything he does (like asking marines to hold unbrellas for him) is news.

If Boehner asked some security guys to hold umbrellas? Not news (at least: not a scandal). That ought to resonate with you. (The Omnivore found that a ridiculous scandal--proving him to be a liberal).

3: There's a "3"? Yeah. There is. The GOP's argument that Obama "owns this" sucks. Firstly, they've spent half their time saying Harry Reid owns it. That's 'mixed messaging.' Secondly, they are totally divided as to whether this is a good idea in the first place. That makes for a weak attack. Finally, their basic argument that Obama is "forcing them to do this" is the same argument that torturers make when they tell their victim his intransigence in signing the confession is making them pull his elbows out of their sockets.

Yes: Obama's refusal to halt or delay (? that wasn't the FIRST ask) Obamacare is what the GOP wants. On the other hand, the government would not be shutdown if not for, let's face it, the Tea Party. If you deny this, ask yourself if, without the stout spine of the Tea Party Republicans (and Ted Cruz's mail-in spines) they would be doing this?


The argument that this is "all" Obama's fault sucks. If Democrats in the Senate refused to sign off on any budget that didn't have a rider for  more background checks for Assault Weapons (a made-up category of gun based on its scary-looking-ness) would that be cool?

Oh--but, haven't you SEEN the polling on background checks?


Yeah. Right. The Second Amendment.

Okay--how about the Iraq war back in around 2006? It polled in the toilet. What if the Dims had refused funding based on its polling? Right. Yeah--I know, we gotta support the troops. Patriotism. I get it.

Except I don't--these are all excuses. How Obamacare polls and whether or not we get to shutdown the government or even breach the Debt Ceiling are different issues. They're the same because of an argument the GOP is kinda-sorta making. It's a fig-leaf.

The fact is: Romney lost. Reasonably decisively. The time to seize the presidency was 2012. That ship sailed.

So ... What?
So here's the deal, Allahpundit: The reason Obama hasn't made counter offers is that by Day 1 there is no reason to. The GOP's hand is weak. He still sees potential for 2014 gains--or even a party-fracture. He can see Boehner deposed (the emails showing he favored the Congress-"exemption"?) and replaced by someone who's an embarrassment? Not as bad as I'm-Not-A-Witch but still, you get the picture.

If the polls go against Obama--which, you know, with a fractured off-message GOP isn't looking likely right now? He might come back with some sort of "compromise"--but right now? The shutdown is a stupid tactic. His enemy (the GOP) is making a mistake--and he's willing to let them keep making it.