At the end of a story about the president and his strategy on tax changes in coming weeks and months, this sentence appeared in today’s New York Times: “The president did not mention rates on Friday in his first post-election remarks on the budget talks, and people in both parties interpreted that as a sign of his bargaining flexibility.”
A sign of bargaining flexibility? At the start of a negotiation? Jeez.
You don’t signal flexibility at the start of a negotiation. Not if you want to come out the other side getting most of what you want. You signal inflexibility.
I am the president, you proclaim. I just won the majority of the votes and a huge electoral victory. You lost your shot at the Senate and only retained the House because you rigged the voting via gerrymandering. So you gotta do what I say. And give me all I want.
That’s where you start in order to win at the end of the day. Indicating that what you want initially is negotiable is a guarantee that you will be perceived as weak and malleable. And the other side will get most of what it wants.
Doesn’t this guy ever learn? How many times do the Republicans have to roll him in a negotiation before he realizes that you only give a little along the way, big stuff only at the very end, nothing, not even a hint of something, at the start.
I hope I’m wrong about this. But I’m seeing early signs of the reasonable 2009 and 2010 Obama about to turn yet another sure-fire victory into a Republican mauling.