When I read this line in Kurt Schlichter’s excellent post, A Lawyer’s Tips on Negotiating for Dummies and Congressional Republicans, I had to laugh:
Sound a bit, well, crazy? Unreasonable? Even scary? Good, because a skilled lawyer understands the awesome power of being the craziest, most unreasonable and scariest guy at the table.
I laughed, because here is the one of the slides I use during our classroom discussion of negotiation:
Schlichter makes a bigger point, and I highly recommend his full post, but here’s the context of the quote above:
Yet the GOP actually has several aces in the hole – the only reason they are taking the submissive role in the Fifty Shades of the Fiscal Cliff playing out before us is that they chose to assume it. Maybe Obama has a mandate, but so do they. They should be exercising it.
Their first step is to stop showing fear and to start counter-attacking. So America falls off the fiscal cliff? Who cares? Hell, a substantial number of the rich and sorta-rich are Democratic voters in blue states anyway. Let them put their money where their progressivism is. And if there’s another recession, awesome. We call that a teachable moment for America about what happens when its president is a spendaholic who would rather campaign than lead.
What about those cuts to defense? Okay. We’ll live having only exponentially more military power than our nearest competitors. And if all else fails and the bad guys invade, as Red Dawn teaches, we’ll just open up our gun safes and go all Wolverines on them.
Sound a bit, well, crazy? Unreasonable? Even scary? Good, because a skilled lawyer understands the awesome power of being the craziest, most unreasonable and scariest guy at the table. Obama is hanging tough only because he thinks – he knows – the congressional Republicans are dying to fold well before he pays any kind of price.
But what if the GOP’s offer was a two-word response beginning with the letter “F” – and what if they meant it? After all, the secret of being the unreasonable negotiator is that you can’t be bluffing, that you have to be ready to pull the pin and take the whole table out with you. In other words, the Republicans ought to be telling the President “Hey, I’ll be Thelma and you can be Louise, and we’re pedal to the metal.”
The GOP knows the worst case scenario – rates on everyone go up and sequestration. All they have to do is be willing to take the hit for longer than Obama. The GOP has an advantage – the liberal media will screw them no matter what they do. This gives them incredible freedom.
An (allegedly) imploding economy and job market could take Democrats down just as easily as Republicans.
When Tim Geithner says Obama “absolutely” will go off the cliff over the procedural issue of “tax rates” (as opposed to the substantive issue of revenue), he’s telling us that Obama’s crazy enough to do it regardless of the consequences for the nation or Democrats. The hope being that we’re not crazy enough to let him do it.
It reminds me of the “Stop or I’ll shoot myself” TV trope.
And it’s working like a charm.