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Glenn Greenwald: Obama's "bad negotiating" is actually shrewd negotiating

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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 08:45 AM
Original message
Glenn Greenwald: Obama's "bad negotiating" is actually shrewd negotiating




Obama's "bad negotiating" is actually shrewd negotiating
April 13, 2011

In December, President Obama signed legislation to extend hundreds of billions of dollars in Bush tax cuts, benefiting the wealthiest Americans. Last week, Obama agreed to billions of dollars in cuts that will impose the greatest burden on the poorest Americans. And now, virtually everyone in Washington believes, the President is about to embark on a path that will ultimately lead to some type of reductions in Social Security, Medicare and/or Medicaid benefits under the banner of "reform." Tax cuts for the rich -- budget cuts for the poor -- "reform" of the Democratic Party's signature safety net programs -- a continuation of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies and a new Middle East war launched without Congressional approval. That's quite a legacy combination for a Democratic President.

All of that has led to a spate of negotiation advice from the liberal punditocracy advising the President how he can better defend progressive policy aims -- as though the Obama White House deeply wishes for different results but just can't figure out how to achieve them. Jon Chait, Josh Marshall, and Matt Yglesias all insist that the President is "losing" on these battles because of bad negotiating strategy, and will continue to lose unless it improves. Ezra Klein says "it makes absolutely no sense" that Democrats didn't just raise the debt ceiling in December, when they had the majority and could have done it with no budget cuts. Once it became clear that the White House was not following their recommended action of demanding a "clean" vote on raising the debt ceiling -- thus ensuring there will be another, probably larger round of budget cuts -- Yglesias lamented that the White House had "flunked bargaining 101." Their assumption is that Obama loathes these outcomes but is the victim of his own weak negotiating strategy.

I don't understand that assumption at all. Does anyone believe that Obama and his army of veteran Washington advisers are incapable of discovering these tactics on their own or devising better strategies for trying to avoid these outcomes if that's what they really wanted to do? What evidence is there that Obama has some inner, intense desire for more progressive outcomes? These are the results they're getting because these are the results they want --for reasons that make perfectly rational political sense.

When I first began blogging five years ago, I used to write posts like that all the time. I'd lament that Democrats weren't more effectively opposing Bush/Cheney National Security State policies or defending civil liberties. I'd attribute those failures to poor strategizing or a lack of political courage and write post after post urging them to adopt better tactics to enable better outcomes or be more politically "strong." But then I realized that they weren't poor tacticians getting stuck with results they hated. They simply weren't interested in generating the same outcomes as the ones I wanted.

Read the full article at:

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/...


-------------------------------------------

JOHN KING, USA
CNN TRANSCRIPT
April 12, 2011

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST

Henry: I was talking to a senior Democrat who advises the White House, outside the White House today who was saying look, every time this president sits down with Speaker Boehner, to Gloria's point about negotiating skills, the president seems to give up another 5 billion dollars, 10 billion dollars, 20 billions dollars. It' s like the spending cuts keep going up. If you think about where the congressional Democrats started a couple of months ago they were talking about no spending cuts on the table. It keeps going up.

But this president has a much different reality than congressional Democrats.

Henry: He's going for re-election, him going to the middle and having liberal Democrats mad at him is not a bad thing.

Borger: Exactly

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1104/12/jkusa.01...



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ReggieVeggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 08:48 AM
Response to Original message
1. kick and rec!!!
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 08:54 AM
Response to Original message
2. excellent analysis on this in The Nation's piece on Jim Messina
http://www.thenation.com/article/159577/jim-messina-oba...

Jim Messina, Obama's Enforcer

(snip)

Under Messina, Obama 12 could more closely resemble the electoral strategy of Baucus or Bill and Hillary Clintoncautious, controlling, top-down in structure and devoted to small-bore issues that blur differences between the partiesthan Obama 08, a grassroots effort on a scale modern politics had never seen. It was a major harbinger to me, when Obama hired him, that we were not going to get change we can believe in, says Ken Toole, a former Democratic state senator and public service commissioner in Montana. Messina has a lot of talents, but hes extremely conservative in his views on how to do politics. Hes got a tried-and-true triangulation methodology, and thats never gonna change. The Democratic National Committee declined to make Messina available for an interview.

(snip)

The inside strategy pursued by Messina, relying on industry lobbyists and senior legislators to advance the bill, was directly counter to the promise of the 2008 Obama campaign, which talked endlessly about mobilizing grassroots support to bring fundamental change to Washington. But that wasnt Messinas styleinstead, he spearheaded the administrations deals with doctors, hospitals and drug companies, particularly the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), one of the most egregious aspects of the bill. They cared more about their relationship with the healthcare industry than anyone else, says one former HCAN staffer. It was shocking to see. To me, that was the scariest part of it, because this White House had ridden in on a white horse and said, Were not going to do this anymore. When they were negotiating special deals with industry, Messina and Baucus chief of staff Jon Selib were also pushing major healthcare companies and trade associations to pour millions of dollars into TV ads defending the bill. (Messina did have allies in the progressive community. Jon Youngdahl, chief of staff at the SEIU, praised him for the ability to pull together progressives with diverse points of view on healthcare, while Democratic strategist Robert Creamer noted that Messinas mission was to get something passed.)
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 08:59 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. in other words, sellout is intentional, not by incompetence nt
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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #3
25. from Messina's perspective, it's how one achieves power.
Edited on Thu Apr-14-11 06:33 PM by nashville_brook
"above-it-all centrism"
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jefferson_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 09:10 AM
Response to Original message
4. Greenwald announces that President Obama is, in fact, playing FIVE dimensional chess...
All because he doesn't like me... :nopity:

Good Lord... Greenwald is twisting himself in knots of insufferable self-pity. A sad sight to behold...
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inna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:04 AM
Response to Reply #4
9. thank god for Glenn. excellent analysis, as always.

:kick:
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jefferson_dem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #9
11. I'm rarely NOT impressed with his skill at penning fiery polemics...
His "analysis", however, is often propped up by sketchy assumptions ... at best.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:26 AM
Response to Reply #11
14. If what you say is true, you should be able to show it rather than
announce it with many adjectives and no actual counters to actual things he said. Quotation marks as sarcasm went out with the McCain campaign, John did that all the time, air quotes as snark. I mean, you do understand that not agreeing with an analysis does not mean it is not an analysis, don't you? It just means you do not agree with it. For reasons which seemingly can not put into words as flashy as 'polemics'. Lots of tactic in your posts, not much content, and absolutely no counter of the arguments made.
Showing your opinion without reasons is like mooning the crowd. At least it gives you the sense that you somehow filled that moment!
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grahamhgreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 09:23 AM
Response to Original message
5. He won't pass the Bush tax cuts.... AGAIN. Or so he claims.... AGAIN.
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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #5
20. The Bush tax cuts won't come up for renewal until after the 2012 election!

So, it's easy to take a verbal stand against those tax cuts now!

After the election Obama can once again change his position on the tax cuts just like he did in 2010.
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fasttense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 09:29 AM
Response to Original message
6. If anyone one was listening, Obama told us what he believed in his first few sentences.
"From our first days as a nation we have put our faith in free markets."

Don't take my word for it. Take his words.
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inna Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:12 AM
Response to Reply #6
12. .
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in_cog_ni_to Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 09:56 AM
Response to Original message
7. That made my blood run cold.
He nailed it. He pretty much doesn't give a rats ass if Liberal Dems are mad at him and his policies. That has been pretty damn obvious the last 2 years, right? It's not that he didn't have the POWER to get what he/Democrats wanted while we had the power to do so, it's that HE DIDN'T WANT TO. It all makes so much freakin' sense now.

Glenn's UPDATE after yesterday's speech:

UPDATE: Obama gave a speech today on the budget that many liberals seemed to like -- some more than others. It was a fine speech as far as it goes -- advocating, among other things, defense cuts and a repeal of the Bush tax cuts and vowing to protect the poor from the pain of deep entitlement reductions -- but I've long ago ceased caring about what Obama says in individual, isolated speeches: especially an Obama now formally in re-election mode. As I said above, he can be expected to oppose Paul Ryan's plan and "pay lip service to some Democratic economic dogma." If this becomes a sustained bully pulpit campaign to rhetorically sell these principles to the citizenry accompanied by real action to defend them, that will be one thing: I'll be pleasantly surprised and will be happy to say so. But what matters is actions and outcomes.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/...

Last night, Rachel Maddow had allayed my fears about Obama's intentions, but Glenn Greenwald pretty much just put them back on the table for me.

My question now is: Why aren't the Democrats running a real Liberal against him for 2012? It's a question that begs to be answered. SOON!
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pacalo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:56 AM
Response to Reply #7
21. I was very happy (& relieved) about the speech, but Greenwald's words do have merit.
Obama does make good speeches;

He's in campaign mode;

Will his actions reflect his words; &

Our expectations are now so low that we are praising his speech more out of relief that his plan isn't as far to the right as we anticipated.

Looking at the whole picture, I believe he meant what he said. I heard a hint of anger in his voice when he spoke about the Republicans' unreasonable approach to the rich vs. the poor, & he strategically put Paul Ryan in the center of the front row to hear him say it.



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in_cog_ni_to Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. I hear ya. Rachel convinced me last night that all was good.
*sigh* Now, I'm back in my worry mode. :(
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 08:45 PM
Response to Reply #7
27. Its a damned good thing he doesn't need the poverty vote.
:cry:
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Marr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 09:57 AM
Response to Original message
8. Couldn't agree more. And the leadership in Congress plays the same game.
Edited on Thu Apr-14-11 09:58 AM by Marr
There was a moment back in 2007 or 2008 where it was made crystal clear for me. I wish I could remember what bill it was in particular, but what it came down to was this:

There was a Democratic bill and a Republican bill on an issue before the Senate. The Republican bill basically used the issue as an opportunity to hand out cash to big corporations, while the Democratic bill seemed more of an earnest attempt at addressing the issue. To defeat the Republican bill, Reid only needed to advance the Democratic one. Poof, done, victory, take a vote. But he advanced the Republican bill, using some procedural excuse.
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Bandit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:08 AM
Response to Original message
10. In a way he is right.
Obama has bent over backward for the Republicans. Liberals (like me) have been very upset and quite vocal about it. We see America's decline and want it halted...NOW..however politics just doesn't work that way. Almost nothing is done ..NOW... Obama has reached out and had his hand bitten every single time. There are some people in America that have noticed that and now that Obama has placed his line in the sand on several issues, I believe people are going to side with him because he has been more than fair and Republicans, just the opposite..Now Independents and moderate Republicans, that really don't like the extreme attitude of the Republicans are going to recognize that Obama is the adult in the room and is trying to put America on the right path..I believe his efforts of giving Republicans way more than they deserve is going to reap great reward. I have been extremely harsh on this President but I am willing to take it all back and Unite behind this man and this cause once more and allow Hope to rekindle and start giving my all out support once again..Obama has put himself out there now and I can see no way he can go back on his word on these things.. If his goal was to rally support from the LEFT, in my case it worked like a charm..
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Chris_Texas Donating Member (707 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #10
13. Obama works hard for his employers
The world's wealthy power-elite are probably thrilled with his ability to stay on script.
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in_cog_ni_to Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:43 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. Exactly. They always held their breath when the idiot-in-chief was out in public because
he often fell short in remembering what they had told him to say. Hence, the numerous "Bushisms" books. Obama's perfected it.
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JTFrog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
16. lulz
Looks like the Republicans aren't the only ones butthurt that Obama came out on top of this deal.

Of course I'm sure those bloggers have laid out exactly why the CBO is wrong about the deal...

Right?

Um...

Right?

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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:10 AM
Response to Original message
17. "having liberal Democrats mad at him is not a bad thing."
Until they stay home and don't vote. Then you get 2010 all over again.

Tell me again why pissing off your base is a great idea? If it is so great why do the repubs bend over backwards to play to their base, and have done so since at least Reagan?
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Little Star Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:11 AM
Response to Original message
18. Not this shit again!
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JoePhilly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:23 AM
Response to Original message
19. Now it all makes sense.
After days of DU folks predicting how Obama was going to announce major cuts to social security that did not happen.

Almost in unison, the folks who had been making that prediction, ALL changed their meme.

They all went from predicting this horrible announcement, to claiming that "well, the lack of the predicted announcement doesn't matter".

I wondered how they all came to that same new reason to remain angry at Obama for something that he had not done.

And now I know.
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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 04:39 PM
Response to Reply #19
23. I don't recall anyone indicating Obama was going to announce major cuts to SS in his speech.
Edited on Thu Apr-14-11 04:40 PM by Better Believe It
That remains to be negotiated by his appointed bi-partisan congressional committee led by Vice-President Obama.

Obama of course on numerous occassions has indicated the need to "reform" Medicare, Medicaid and other social programs.

And now we all understand what is meant when the politicians talk about "reforming" programs that benefit working people and elderly.

I don't think President Obama's committee will propose lowering the retirement age and increasing Social Security benefits.

Do you think that's what he has in mind and how do you like the latest round of reforms and cuts in the latest deficit reduction deal?

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JoePhilly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. HAHAHAHA ... .why would you recall it.
Other than it was ENDLESS.

The predictions were WRONG ... and now those who joined in the endless screaming simply move on.

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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. No such predictions were made. But, if you need a strawman go for it.

However, President Obama will justify and sign a bi-partisan deficit package bill that will cut deficits on the backs of working people and the elderly.

Just give it a few months.

When that happens I assume you will attempt to justify it on the grounds that the House Republican plan was worse.

Republican plans are always worse.

They have to be.

If they were not worse why would anyone vote for conservative (centrists and blue dogs) Democratic politicians?

And initial Republican proposals are intended to make conservative Democratic proposals easier to sell to the general public as being "reasonable" and non-partisan, above the fray!

You don't get it?
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JTFrog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-15-11 05:31 AM
Response to Reply #26
29. Pretty sure you don't get it. n/t
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upi402 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 08:54 PM
Response to Original message
28. Yep, almost seems like it's all by design.
Not all Dems, But virtually all Rethugs and too many Dems.

Salon.com :thumbsup:
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democracy1st Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-15-11 05:33 AM
Response to Original message
30. K & R
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eridani Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-15-11 05:41 AM
Response to Original message
31. Just trying to imaging these slick media whores ever saying
--now that Bush is going for re-election, how is having conservative Republicans mad at him a bad thing?
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stillwaiting Donating Member (591 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-15-11 07:05 AM
Response to Original message
32. No matter who's in power it's NEVER a bad thing for liberals to be mad at you.
Heaven forbid that conservatives are mad at you though.

Wonder who that always benefits?!?!

Our government is going to have to be scared of US before they change their ways, and all of the sell-out pundits can bite me.
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whatchamacallit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-15-11 07:39 AM
Response to Original message
33. DUH!
I don't see Obama as ill advised, confused, weak...

Duplicitous maybe.
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