- Donald Rumsfeld has ‘no idea’ if he paid taxes correctly
- Bradley Manning named honorary grand marshal of San Francisco Pride parade
- Look out PayPal: Facebook working toward mobile payments system
- U.S. rebukes Iran’s U.N. envoy pick over 1979 embassy attack
- Stoned mom avoids jail after driving 12 miles with baby on roof
- More than 100 ‘inappropriate’ encounters between NYC school staffers, students since 2009: report
- Joe Biden to Boston bombing survivors: ‘America will never, ever stand down’
- FBI failed to throughly vet Boston bombing suspect after Russian lead, report finds
- Atlanta Braves flooded with Hank Aaron hate mail: He’s a ‘scumbag’
- University: Help, our campus is too white
WILLIAMS: We, the people, are trapped on a ship of fools
Usually when two sides cannot come to an agreement, they can let an arbiter weigh their arguments and settle the dispute. Some arbiters try to find the optimum compromise, while others simply rule in favor of one side over the other.
Unfortunately for America, we have no arbitrator. Instead, we have two groups of buffoons flinging muck at each other. On one side, we have a group of Republicans in the House refusing to do anything unless Obamacare’s individual mandate is delayed or, better yet, defunded. On the other side, you have a Democratic Senate refusing to vote on any bills.
Traditionally, the president tries to act as the arbiter in such disputes, but President Obama refuses to entertain negotiations. He insists that House Republicans drop all their demands and give him free rein.
Does either side understand what a compromise is? In a negotiation, unless you are dealing with a fool, you never get everything you want. You must make concessions in order to move forward.
I am a businessman and can tell you that time and again, I have had to compromise to make a deal. By finding areas of agreement, negotiators can iron out contentious issues and find some kind of middle ground. I may not get everything I want, but I get enough to make the deal worthwhile for my associates and me.
The biggest difference between my business deals and the current shutdown squabble is that I can walk away if I think the deal is too skewed against me. By contrast, Mr. Obama, House Speaker John A. Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cannot walk away.
The Republicans’ idea of a compromise is to offer a delay rather than a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. This notion was the strategy behind passing both bills and sending them to the Senate, figuring the Senate obviously would reject defunding and negotiate on the delay.
But the Republican leadership is stupid. They could not foresee that Mr. Reid would bundle the bills and force up-or-down votes. They thought the looming deadline over raising the federal debt ceiling was leverage when, in actuality, their approach led to a corner into which they are blindly running.
They were also dumb enough to think they could beat the president and Democrats in a public relations war over the shutdown. In Washington and the media, political compromise means Republicans should capitulate to Democrats. Democrats standing on principle are “courageous,” while Republicans doing the same are “jihadists, arsonists and terrorists.” It has been this way for at least 30 years. To expect anything different is insanity.
In the Senate, Mr. Reid’s idea of a compromise is to demand that House Republicans pass a “clean” government funding bill that keeps everything exactly as it is. He knew perfectly well that stonewalling the House would lead to a government shutdown and was (rightly) confident that Democrats could win the media battle.
In the White House, Mr. Obama sat back and proceeded to act like an adolescent. He refused for a long time even to meet with Republican leaders to hammer out a compromise. He sends marching orders to the 83 percent of the government not closed to make the shutdown as obvious and painful as possible, just as he did earlier this year for the sequester cuts, but this time even more outrageously.
Never before in any of the previous 17 shutdowns has the Mall been closed, or seniors expelled from their homes, or scenic overlooks barricaded. The president is a man who thinks keeping his wife’s nutrition-based website up and running is essential, but the Amber Alert system, used to track missing children, is not.
Mr. Obama had to make the cuts more pronounced because few Americans noticed the sequester cuts. If America can run with fewer federal dollars, then perhaps the Republicans are right about smaller government.
Regrettably, Mr. Obama can afford to act this way. The press will not call him on his behavior, and his supporters are too doe-eyed to acknowledge that he is managing to be more of a child in this than even Republicans (and that takes a titanic effort).
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
By returning to goodness, the nation can achieve greatness once again
- Fuel-filled wings, ability to swarm: Pentagon offers glimpse at future of drone fleet
- Secret U.S. assessments show Afghanistan not ready to govern on own
- U.S. military on high alert as Ukraine troops trade gunfire with pro-Russian militants
- Russian fighter jet buzzes U.S. Navy destroyer in Black Sea
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Kirsten Dunst: Actress sparks feminist ire: 'You need a man to be a man'
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
- PHILLIPS: What did Harry Reid know and when did he know it?
- Nevada Bundy ranch standoff could leave dirt on Harry Reid reputation
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes