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The Lack Of A Republican Plan


I meant to post about this the other day, but never got the chance. Here, Ross Douthat offers his analysis of the GOP's mis-steps in the Debt-Ceiling Dance:
For months, Republican leaders used all the tools at their disposal — the anti-spending intensity of their base, the White House’s desire for a deal, the specter of dire consequences if the debt ceiling wasn’t raised — to leverage their way into a favorable position. Despite controlling just one house of Congress, they spent the spring and summer setting the agenda for the country: not whether to cut spending, but how deeply and how fast.

But last week, the Republican offensive suddenly collapsed in disarray. In the space of a few days, a party that once looked capable of pressing the White House into a deal that would have left liberals fuming found itself falling back on two less-palatable options instead: either a procedural gimmick that would try to pin the responsibility for raising the ceiling on President Obama, or a stand on principle that would risk plunging the American economy back into recession.

What went wrong? It turns out that Republicans didn’t have a plan for transitioning from the early phase of a high-stakes political negotiation, when the goal is to draw stark lines and force the other side to move your way, to the late phase, in which the public relations battle becomes crucial and the goal is to make the other side seem unreasonable, intransigent and even a little bit insane.

Winning the later phase doesn’t require making enormous compromises, or giving up the ground you’ve gained. But it requires at least the appearance of conciliation, and a few examples of concessions that you’re willing to (oh-so-magnanimously) make to those unreasonable ideologues in the other party.
My emphasis.

Check out the whole piece.