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.

MICHAEL SILVERSTEIN, Wall Street Columnist
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dduck
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dduck
3 years 10 months ago

MS, I’m conflicted, I believe in speak quietly and carry a big stick. If O would just walk the walk and drop the talk part, I think we might see better results. He has been, and I hope stops being, a kind of looking good type of guy with an eye on the polls and trying to please his base too much. Get a set, you earned it by creaming the Reps.

petew
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petew
3 years 10 months ago
Michael, I think Obama’s claim to be open to other ideas, is a suggestions partly aimed at illustrating that Democrats are reasonable creatures who are waiting for some fair consideration from Republicans in return. I know that the election was quite close—at least according to the popular vote—so Obama hardly can use this as a burning and righteous excuse to seek only his own ends. But I don’t believe he has ever really been very unreasonable at all! His previous negotiations with Boehner seemed to fall through because inflexible tea party members thought there was more political millage in making… Read more »
dduck
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dduck
3 years 10 months ago

Obsession: Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety.

O, raise the tax rate to 100% on the top 1% and maybe your obsession will be satisfied, but the economic problem will NOT be anywhere near being fixed.

slamfu
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slamfu
3 years 10 months ago
Obama tried being nice before. That got him bumpkiss. That guy has been retired, and now he is going to be as hardnosed and unrelenting as they are. And this time, the GOP can’t stall, not without letting a mountain of automatic things happen for which they might get the blame for. Of course, we do have more or less the same pack of spineless democrats that will be up for election in ’14 and I’m sure they will be just as willing to cave this time as they were in ’10. But this time, Obama doesn’t have another election… Read more »
sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 10 months ago

dd, Obama doesn’t have to worry about pleasing his base any longer.
I agree with you MS. He is already showing signs of cooperation and a willingness to be rational, where McConnell and Boehner are not. He gave it his best shot before. He is not required by decorum, position, or any misplaced sense of fairness to do it again. As you said, he is the president. Enough already!
Start the negotiations from so very far away from the Republican agenda, that they will merely gain ground to make things equitable for all concerned.

dduck
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dduck
3 years 10 months ago

SK, you make good points, but I refute the one about pleasing his base. I think he is an egotist and they always want to appear “good” looking and sounding. Closed door sessions are probably not his strong suit.

sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 10 months ago

The last “closed door session” Romney had didn’t work out too well for him either as I recall, at least half the nation didn’t think so.
But I ( of course) disagree. It wouyld be hard to really know what type of negotiator Obama is at this point, because Res have refused to negotiate on anything. We will just have to wait…maybe be pleasantly surprised.

zephyr
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zephyr
3 years 10 months ago

Obama tried being nice before. That got him bumpkiss. That guy has been retired, and now he is going to be as hardnosed and unrelenting as they are.

Hope you’re right about that last part slam. The reaching across the aisle bizz has to come from the R’s – their penance for being utterly useless and obstructive last time around.

dduck
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dduck
3 years 10 months ago

I would go along if you did it MS, I have less confidence in O’s negotiating skills and more confidence in his posturing- of course in public.

zephyr
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zephyr
3 years 10 months ago

Leadership. I won. Me. not you. So here’s what we’re going to do…

Exactly right. Appeals to cooperation and reason were tried and rejected in the first term. Time for a new approach.

jdledell
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jdledell
3 years 10 months ago
I think Obama is playing the long game here. He talked as if he has flexibility in order to show that he and Democrats are being reasonable. I think he did that because he does not believe that Boehner and his Tea Party faithful will make ANY deal. Thus the fiscal cliff will occur and Obama wants to make sure that Republicans get the full blame. A month into the new year and economic upheavals, the Republicans will be forced by public opinion to back way off their demands and Obama will get most of what he wants in the… Read more »
sheknows
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sheknows
3 years 10 months ago

jd, you are saying that this whole thing revolves around Obama wanting to cast blame on the Republicans. He will orchestrate a complete collapse of the economy just to thumb his nose at the Republicans. Yeah, you’re right. No one cares about the people…not the Dems, not the Reps…all of this is done to see who has the biggest. The fiscal future is just a pawn in a much bigger, more important game, namely that of “tag…you’re it” Are you insane????

bluebelle
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bluebelle
3 years 10 months ago
I sort of disagree with the premise that the vote was too close for Obama to claim much of a mandate. With a 50/50 split in the way we vote, no candidate is going to be getting Ronald Reagan landslides anymore. As it is, he got more of a margin of the popular vote than Bush did against Kerry, and he slaughtered it in the Electoral College. He needs to be willing to give up something, but should stick to his bottom line about everything else. If that doesn’t work, hold their feet to the fire. Use the bully pulpit… Read more »
jdledell
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jdledell
3 years 10 months ago

sheknows – I don’t believe Obama wants to go over the fiscal cliff – that was not my point. If Republicans are reasonable in their negotiations, then Obama will be able to reach a reasonable compromise with them and the fiscal cliff will be avoided. My point is that he feels the majority of House Republicans will put their foot down and absolutely refuse to compromise. Boehner was indicated flexibility but Cantor has not.

No one wants to go over the cliff except conservative ideologues and, unfortunately, they dominate the House.

dduck
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dduck
3 years 10 months ago

You guys are forgetting the old kick it down the street ploy where both sides get off the hook?

petew
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petew
3 years 10 months ago
dduck & Michael, What person who desires to be the leader of the free world can achieve that goal without a large ego? But if he keeps his eye on his base (in this case at least) Obama already knows that something like 2/3rds of voters favor the idea of raising taxes on the wealthy. So, he is now trying to please both his own ideological values and the wishes of his base. For the President, moving towards the center and trying to reach across the aisle has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because if voters… Read more »
dduck
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dduck
3 years 10 months ago
petew, nobody wants nice, respectful OK, but nice does not solve problems. Now you said 2/3rds of voters favor higher taxes on the wealthy, please cite your source cause this is what I read: “Well, that’s not as clear as he claims. One exit poll question on Tuesday asked “Should taxes be raised to help cut the budget deficit?” The answer was no by nearly 2 to 1. A second question asked if tax rates should “increase for all” (13%); “increase only on income over $250,000″ (47%); or “not increase for anyone” (35%). Three quarters of the latter 35% voted… Read more »
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