Friday, July 15, 2011

Obama's Losing Game

The other day I suggested that President Obama was trying to make the debt ceiling negotiations into a game of: heads I win/ tails you lose.

Of course, a game where the outcome is predetermined is not really a game. It’s a script.

When you go to the Super Bowl or even your local little league game, you don’t know who is going to win. No one does.

If someone knows in advance, that means that the game has been rigged. If the game was rigged, and if anyone finds out, the outcome is nullified.

But when you go to the movies you might or might know the ending. Nevertheless, the ending has been determined. Short of a fire in the theater nothing that anyone can do will change it.

As a member of the audience you can enjoy the way the script gets to where it’s going. That's all.
This morning Peggy Noonan takes this reasoning one step further. She explains that when you play a heads I win/tails you lose game, you always end up losing.

In her words: “As this is written, the president seems to have the edge. But if he wins—whatever winning looks like—he'll likely pay a price for his political victory. He usually does. He won on health care, which ruined his first two years in office and sharply accelerated the decline in his popularity.”

And: “But if the president wins this way, there will be residual costs. He will have scared America and shook it up, all for a political victory. That will not add to affection or regard for the president. Centrists and independents, however they react in terms of support, will not think more highly of him.”

As I’ve been saying, Obama is not a negotiator. He’s a bully. If you are involved in business or any other field of human endeavor, do not emulate Barack Obama’s leadership.

As Noonan reminds us, Obama did not negotiate his health care law. He did not try to make it a bipartisan effort. He imposed it on an unwilling opposition party and an unwilling American body politic. For that, he lost.
Behaving more as a bully and less as a statesman, he lost the consent of the governed.

Noonan also adds one more salient point. In the tempestuous negotiating session on Wednesday, Obama, in what was surely a sign of desperation, reportedly compared himself to Ronald Reagan.

As it happens, Peggy Noonan knew Ronald Reagan. She was his chief speechwriter. Noonan knows that Barack Obama is no Ronald Reagan.

This from Ronald Reagan’s chief speechwriter: “I'm glad Reagan is his model for how presidents should comport themselves, but he should know Reagan never tried to scare people into doing things his way. Instead he tried to encourage support, and with a light touch. When locked in battle with a Democratic Congress he didn't go on TV and make threats. “


The Ghost said...

I am very curious as to what message Presentdent Obama thinks he is going to "go to the people" with ?

I am going to veto this short term deal and cut off Social Security checks because:
1) there is not enough tax increases in the deal
2) the cuts in the deal are too large
3) I don't want to debate this again in a year

He really thinks that will be a winning message ? Really ???

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I guess that if he loses the rest of us win.

I like your idea that cutting off SS checks because he did not get enough of a tax increase is not likely to go over very well with seniors.

If you're right, and I think you are, then he is playing a much weaker hand than he thinks.

Maybe Krauthammer's right: time to call the bluff.