Could Republican handling of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations be any worse?

We suffered the embarrassment of a Plan B which sacrificed the one principle on which we have stood strong for absolutely nothing in exchange, a Plan B which already had been rejected by Harry Reid and the White House. Why would you force your members to vote on such a thing, and why would you even put it to a vote unless you knew you had the votes to pass it?

This is what happens when you play on someone else’s timetable, and by their rules:

Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn’t reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.

At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?”

“You get nothing,” the president said. “I get that for free.”

My suggestion of preserving the status quo and gettin past the New Year with the current tax rates … seems never to have been considered.

All that Plan B proved is that the Republican leadership is afraid. That is not a winning formula.

I think it’s worth repeating my post from just after the 2008 election.

Is It Time For Conservatives To Sit Down In The Snow?

Conservatives face a choice. Yield to “progressive” policies which, once implemented will take a generation to undo, or stand on principles of free enterprise, individual liberty, and capitalism? Giving in is much easier, but in the long run more costly. We can learn a lot about the power of standing on principle from Anatoly Sharansky (see my earlier Post).

Sharansky spend almost a decade in Soviet prison because of his activities on behalf of Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel. Sharansky was subjected to torture and other indignities, but never lost his spirit. Sharansky notoriously refused to obey even the most mundane orders from his captors. Sharansky understood that to compromise even a little would lead to compromising a lot. Throughout his ordeal, Sharansky kept his spirits alive by reading a small book of psalms.

As Sharansky was being led to the airplane that would take him from the Soviet Union to East Germany for the exchange, the Soviets confiscated his book of psalms. It would have been easy for Sharansky simply to keep walking towards the plane and freedom. But Sharansky understood that the Soviets confiscated his book of psalms not because they wanted the book, but because they wanted to show that even in this last moment, they were in control.

In front of reporters covering his departure, Sharansky sat in the snow refusing to move unless the Soviets gave him back his book of psalms. Here was this diminutive man, after 10 years in prison, on the verge of freedom, refusing to budge unless one of the world’s two superpowers gave him back his book. And give him back his book of psalms they did. Sharansky proceeded to the plane, where he read Psalm 30: “I will extol thee, O Lord; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.”

Jay Nordlinger’s 2005 interview with Sharansky recounts not only the episode in the snow, but also the final moments when Sharansky walked to the car for the exchange:

Sharansky spent nine years in the Gulag, a harrowing time in which he demonstrated what resistance is. More than 400 of those days were spent in punishment cells; more than 200 were spent on hunger strikes. His refusal to concede anything to the Soviet state was almost superhuman. This was true to the very last. When they relinquished him to the East Germans, they told him to walk straight to a waiting car — “Don’t make any turns.” Sharansky zig-zagged his way to that car.

Isn’t it time for conservatives and supporters of free enterprise, individual liberty, and capitalism in the Congress and elsewhere to do the political equivalent of sitting down in the snow? When told by the new administration, the majority party in Congress, and the mainstream media to walk straight, isn’t it time to zig and zag?

We sat down in the snow in 2009-2010, and it paid huge dividends in the 2010 mid-term elections. We got up off the snow and selected a candidate who never sat in the snow, and we lost in 2012.

The conventional wisdom is that we should not sit down in the snow over the fiscal cliff.