“Congressional Republican leaders are now saying they won’t even talk to the president unless Obama agrees—before any meetings even take place—to give them what they want.”
Is anyone really surprised that it comes to this?
No, really. How is it not the expected outcome?
For all the pundits who complain bitterly that Obama hasn’t done enough to schmooze with lawmakers, doesn’t an anecdote like this suggest the problem is not entirely the president’s fault? Are we to believe that all five—invited in secret so they wouldn’t have to take heat from Fox or the GOP base—were all washing their hair that night?
What spurred Mr. Obama to reach out to rank-and-file Republicans with a flurry of phone calls, meals and now Capitol visits were the recent announcements by their leaders—Speaker John A. Boehner and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky—that they will no longer negotiate with Mr. Obama on budget policy as long as he keeps demanding more tax revenues as the condition for Democrats’ support of reduced spending on Medicare and other entitlement programs.
This is important. Congressional Republican leaders are now saying they won’t even talk to the president unless Obama agrees—before any meetings even take place—to give them what they want. In other words, when the White House announces that all efforts at deficit reduction in the coming years will include literally nothing but 100% spending cuts, then GOP leaders will be prepared to negotiate with the president.
Two brief points apply here:
• The only aspect of this that we might call new is that we’re playing this game at the Congressional level. We have seen this abroad when entrenched powers demand dissident groups drop their grievances and disarm before being accepted to negotiate a cease-fire. We also see this in labor disputes, when one side—usually the workers—are expected to give over to the other’s demands before negotiation can begin.
• The criticism of President Obama for failing to reach out, lead, or whatever else, is rooted in a press paranoia about being labeled partisan. This is one of the great legacies of the FOX News era, in which the “liberal media conspiracy” myth has not only given rise to blatant conservative partisan media, but also encouraged allegedly genuine journalists to temper reality according to partisan outlooks. Reporters might as well prove they aren’t violent by letting other people bludgeon them with pipes and bricks.
It’s like a twist on that old parental question about if all your friends decided to jump off a bridge. Apparently, the underlying moral of the point is that one should not follow friends off the bridge, but, rather, be the first to take the flying leap into the abyss.