Monday, December 3, 2012

The End of Pyrrhic Compromise???

In a number of blogs written before the 2012 went into full swing, I lamented President Obama's arrogant compulsion to "bargain from the middle" by preemptively staking out the "wise" position that he expected the GOP to eventually accept, a position that usually involved substantial betrayals on issues that have long been held sacred by the members of his own party.

Invariably the GOP rejected his opening compromises, even when they included proposals the GOP itself had previously advocated. Time and again the GOP then retreated to positions that were more extreme than they had previously advocated. In my opinion the President's Pyrrhic Compromises reflected his prior inexperience in high stakes politics, specifically, his ignorance of the most fundamental fact of political life in a democratic republic ==> The only way to resolve conflicts when fundamental values are in conflict is through hard bargaining.

But just a few weeks after his November 2012 reelection victory, the good news is that President Obama is acting like a student who failed a course the first time, but is determined not to fail on his next attempt.  As reported in the New York Times ("Pushing G.O.P. to Negotiate, Obama Brings End to Giving In" -- NY Times 12/3/12) and analyzed by Professor Krugman ("The Big Budget Mumble" -- NY Times, 12/3/12), President Obama is fully engaged in hard bargaining in his search for a solution that will keep the federal government from going over the so-called "fiscal cliff." He is standing firmly behind his election campaign's promise to raise taxes on the very rich and challenging the GOP to identify specific cuts in government programs that would produce comparable reductions in the deficit ... Will he hold course? Will he waiver at the last minute? ... Stay tuned ... :-)

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