The aftermath of President Obama’s latest confrontation with Congressional Republicans is ugly indeed.
Republicans are nursing their wounds; Obama is taking victory laps in Hawaii.
While the financial markets seem to be thrilled with the outcome—one suspects that they would be thrilled with any outcome—in the end everyone lost.
The Republicans allowed themselves to be divided against themselves. They got next to nothing. What was supposed to be a negotiation became a beat down.
The nation lost yet another opportunity to get its fiscal house in order.
And President Obama’s victory will likely prove to be pyrrhic.
Yet again, Obama has shown that he does not know how to win, does not know how to lead, does not know how to negotiate and does not care to learn.
He lives in a zero-sum world. He wins; they lose. How long before it's going to become: he wins; America loses.
In the Obama psyche one person’s victory can only be at someone else’s expense. Obama thinks dialectically; he sees his role as sharpening contrasts and conflicts; he lives, eats, sleeps and breathes class struggle.
Peggy Noonan explains it well in her column this morning:
The president didn't allow his victory to go unsullied. Right up to the end he taunted the Republicans in Congress: They have a problem saying yes to him, normal folks try to sit down and work it out, not everyone gets everything they want. But he got what he wanted, as surely he knew he would, and Republicans got almost nothing they wanted, which was also in the cards. At Mr. Obama's campfire, he gets to sing "Kumbaya" solo while others nod to the beat.
Serious men don't taunt. And they don't farm the job of negotiating out to the vice president because no one can get anything done with the president. Some Republican said, "He couldn't negotiate his way out of a paper bag." But—isn't this clear by now?—not negotiating is his way of negotiating. And it kind of worked. So expect more.
Negotiation is an acquired skill. Obama did not have it coming to the White House. He still does not.
To him conciliation and compromise are four letter words. He can only feel that he has won when he believes that the other side has lost.
He is a uniquely polarizing figure. A moderate U.S. senator said the other day: "One thing not said enough is he is the most divisive president in modern history. He doesn't just divide the Congress, he divides the country." The senator thinks Mr. Obama has "two whisperers in his head." "The political whisperer says 'Don't compromise a bit, make Republicans look weak and bad.' Another whisperer is not political, it's, 'Let's do the right thing, work together and begin to right the ship.'" The president doesn't listen much to the second whisperer.
Good luck, America.