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Democrats’ “Stop or I’ll shoot myself” negotiating strategy working like a charm

Democrats’ “Stop or I’ll shoot myself” negotiating strategy working like a charm

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.


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It’s true … the majority of relationships are controlled by the party who cares the least about maintaining it.

    Ragspierre in reply to Samuel Keck. | December 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Sorry, Sam, I have to take strong exception.

    RELATIONSHIPS are maintained by mutual investment in them.
    Think “good marriage”, business relationship, or friendship.

    ADVERSARIES who act in good faith can often (DO often) resolve very complex…and even heated…conflicts.

    BAD FAITH ADVERSARIES will often use whatever tools they can find to bludgeon their opponent. This is seen in divorces when a spouse uses even the best interests of their own children as a means of wearing out the more caring co-parent.

    As with the present budget mess, this is often motivated by something completely outside and alien to the actual conflict. Think “pathological personality” and picture who that best applies to.

    Liberty in reply to Samuel Keck. | December 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I totally agree with you Samuel. I have had the opportunity to attend negotiating seminars and the person who cares the least about winning has the upper hand and generally ends up with the better deal or outright victory. And…it doesn’t take a genius to see that Barack Hussein Obama (aka Harrison J. Bounel) is going to roll the wimp Boehner whom I expect to see crying in public any day now.

Republicans for tax hikes. Boehner really is trying to get rid of the dreaded Tea Party influence.

Is anyone REALLY surprised? Boehner is perhaps the most incompetent, treacherous, mentally deficient Speaker, EVER. He should really have a “D” next to his name.

Or perhaps Mrs. Boehner is calling the shots: “I didn’t put up with you and your career all these years to be an outcast in D.C. You do what you need to do for us to get invites to the cool parties!”

Whatever. Funny, how Dem lo

America is FINISHED. Sorry. We keep hearing about revolts, and re-alignments, and all that other stuff. But Democrats keep winning when it really counts, whether elections or in Congress, and good conservatives like Allen West and Jim DeMint get driven out of D.C. one way or another.

Someplace, the Devil and Stalin are slapping each other on the back, laughing themselves silly. Their plan is working just fine.

    CalMark in reply to CalMark. | December 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Finishing an unfinished thought:

    Whatever. Funny, how Dem loyalty to the base (so goes conventional wisdom) is so laudable, even though it means doing everything the leftist nut-jobs want, no matter how crazy, radical or destructive, while Republican loyalty to their base, who just want lower taxes, less government, and more freedom, is considered wicked, debased — downright evil.

If the Republicans blink, I’m never voting again.

I remember Doonesbury and his Ronnie Ray-Gun caricatures. At the time, I though it was a funny way to express the truth. Later I came to understant that Ronald Reagan did have something to do with winning the Cold War.

Here’s some crazy.
All the Republicans should just leave Washington to go help people in the areas ravaged by hurricane Sandy. This would showcase how inept FEMA is under Obama and help them with the public relations game on the budget negotiations with Obama.
Just stay there shoveling shit for the cameras unil they get what they want. It would set the tone for the next 4 years.

TrooperJohnSmith | December 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

This is so right-on-the-money.

Schlicter is dead-on. But it’s waste of time. These GOP leaders are retards, truly hopeless. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered people less capable to confront the challenges of their own calling. When one adds in the national peril involved, it simply staggers the imagination. How did we get to this point?

Too bad the GOP’s house leadership isn’t energetic enough to do a “Make my day!” moment. It would generate awesome press for them even if the narrative was negative.

We’ve suffered this incessantly with old guard republicans..Bob Michael’s vengeance it seems.

    Micha Elyi in reply to Bon Hagar. | December 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    If you buy the premise, you buy the bit.
    –Johnny Carson

    Crazy behavior from the political party that has spent decades buffing its image as The Responsible People and flinching from anything “extreme” just isn’t going to be taken at face value. Most everyone will dismiss it as a bluff. Hidden motives will be expected. Therefore, it won’t work.

    That’s why the Democrats are the ones who get away with this sort of bluff. If the townspeople in Blazing Saddles had been a racialist mob of Democrats eager to lynch a black man as political boss Hedley Lamarr expected, the scene wouldn’t play out as funny. They’d have called the bluff in a heartbeat. Bart, the new sheriff, only escapes by playing on the townspeople’s middle class values, especially their sympathy for victims of crime and the helpless…

    If somebody had shouted the Emperor has no clothes there is no hostage, he’s got a gun pointed at his own head nobody would have dropped their gun, again Bart’s bluff would have been called, and the movie would have ended right there as the townspeople chorused, “We may not be so smart but he was so DUMB.”

Time to see who are wimps and who aren’t.

No More Moving The Goal Post.

It’s time for a blink test…

So far my lifelong maxim is still working:

“Never Trust a Golfer”

Now that carney and the dccc are playing the “hostage” card, again, why not serve up a fresh helping of the bird. In fact wouldn’t that be a nice way for Ron Paul to go out, giving O’Barry the middle finger.

Doubting Thomas | December 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I have maintained for the last year that the RNC and the republican leadership are really covert arms of the DNC. It does not seem possible to me that they could be this inept unless they were doing it on purpose.
We must be taking tactis lessons from the Italian army. Sorry that is insulting to the Italians.

    Concur 100%.

    Someone famous once said that those whose actions consistently benefit their enemies are treacherous, not incompetent. If they were merely incompetent, the law of averages dictates that they would occasionally do the right thing by accident. | December 6, 2012 at 7:05 pm

This is a game of chicken. The winner of a game of chicken wins because the loser cares about something else more than they care about winning. Obama and the Dems are banking on the fact that Republicans care more about the country than winning. They think the Republicans will cave to avoid a double dip recession.

Call Obama’s bluff. Vote present. Let It Burn.

    Micha Elyi in reply to | December 6, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    I disagree. Obama isn’t playing a game of chicken as it’s usually understood.

    Rather, Obama is racing toward the cliff alone and daring Republicans to throw their bodies in front of his car to stop him, or else they’re the chicken.

    Sometimes the correct answer is to laugh. This is one of those times.

    Republican officeholders should be responding to Obama’s threatening noises with such sound bites as, “If Obama wants to race over the fiscal cliff, he’s on his own” “Hollywood Obama can put on a black leather jacket and re-enact the scene from Rebel Without A Cause but we’re responsible and don’t play punk kids’ games” and “When Obama plays Thelma and Louise jumping off the cliff, he’s playing by himself.” I’m sure the House Republican Study Committee has writers who can do better than I. Let them get busy.

TeaPartyPatriot4ever | December 6, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Democrats’ “Stop or I’ll shoot myself” negotiating strategy working like a charm – Isn’t this the Boehner GOP Republican party strategy.. That’s what I thought..

If this were a car, and I were in the passenger seat as the House GOP is now, I’d slide my foot over and put it on top of the Dem’s right foot and hold it to the floor.

Scorched earth Byatch.

This movie scene brings that concept to life — at about the one minute mark.