Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How do you "Negotiate" with Nuts?

If you need further proof that the leadership of the Republican Party is living in another universe, it has been reported that one member of the GOP’s House leadership team told the President during shutdown negotiations, “I cannot even stand to look at you”.
Aside from the breathtaking contempt of the remark, it demonstrates something about the spirit in which the Republican Party approached the “negotiating” table, perhaps better characterised as the “hostage room”.
During the shutdown, we heard daily from Republican Party leaders—including, I have not the slightest doubt, the individual who made these remarks—about how the President was refusing to negotiate, or wasn’t spending enough time in conversation with the GOP. 
But how, at the end of the day, would we expect the President to negotiate with people who quite literally hate him, and viscerally so?  How could he have a serious conversation negotiating with people who believe that he is illegitimate after he beat them in two elections, after his party won more votes in Senate and House elections, and after a right-wing Supreme Court upheld the signature piece of legislation that the GOP was making the centrepiece of their sabotage bid?
How do you “negotiate” with people whose version of negotiation involves you giving up everything you have and doing what they tell you, even after you’ve beaten them in the voting booth and the court room?  How can you negotiate with people for whose destructive legislative ambitions there is no democratic route to victory, and whose trump card is their willingness to engineer a breakdown of governance, a national default, and to trash our democracy?  How do you negotiate with people for whom national failure and a scorched earth society represents “success”? 
I for one am thankful that the President kept fairly steady in the face of this band of thugs, and only wish that he’d demonstrated a little more spine early on in order to signal to the brutes who run the twenty-first century Republican Party that they can’t get away with this sort of behaviour.   

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By way of an update, there is considerable dispute over whether Durbin's claim is factual, with the White House disputing the accuracy of the exchange and Durbin sticking by his claim.  While the particular incident does not change the appallingly destructive behaviour of the GOP, it would be reprehensible if Durbin was following the pitiful lead set by Harry Reid who appeared to invent claims about Mitt Romney's tax returns when the facts were already sufficient indictment of the presidential candidate's plutocratic worldview.   

What remains unchanged if Durbin turns out to have gone to the quote factory is the serial irresponsibility, contempt for process, and active campaign of sabotage waged by the GOP.

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