I’d like every liberal who has carped about the president’s approach to the debt ceiling negotiations to pause now and consider the fact that the Republicans have now revealed their bottom line. They made an offer. Their offer is nothing. We get nothing. Not one thing that we want. Nada. And that has always been their position. This was their position from the very beginning. Absolutely nothing, not bad polls, not the advice of bankers or the Chamber of Commerce or conservative economists, or the disapproval of their biggest donors, nor even ridiculous concessions, nor even offering everything they ostensibly want could change their bottom line. The president gets nothing and we get nothing.

Now, this thing is still not over, and the president is going to speak to the nation at 9pm tonight. I expect he will be extremely pissed off. I also expect the Republicans not to give a shit. They think he’s bluffing. I think he’s not bluffing. But my point for the purposes of this thread is the following. Since there was never any way to win any concessions, wasn’t the game here to make sure people see you as having been reasonable? And the other side as the economic terrorists that they are?

Was there some other objective? For example, should he have spent his time looking equally unwilling to compromise? Should he have made demands that people thought were equally unrealistic and unfair? Should he have made a strong case for Democratic values and Keynesian economics only to have his inability to move the Republicans highlighted even more?

It seems to me that this wasn’t a game about outcomes. The outcome was pretty well known in advance: the Republicans would refuse to raise the debt ceiling if it meant making a single concession on anything. Given that, the whole exercise was about political perceptions.

I don’t understand why this isn’t better understood.

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