JONATHAN CHAIT AUGUST 2, 2011
The post-mortems on the debt deal are showing the degree to which, as I've suspected, the Obama administration completely misunderstood the Republican Party. Laura Meckler and Gerald Seib's tick-tock is especially good. Here are the negotiations bumping up against the fundamental ideological divide in American politics:
The next day, a Friday, a small group of Boehner confidantes warned the speaker about the political risks of working with the president. "The danger to him is making a deal with no one standing behind him," said one. "We wanted to be sure he understood that, and was going into it with his eyes open."
Meantime, the two sides couldn't agree on a key principle for how the tax code should be structured. The White House wanted to state up front that the code would at least maintain existing "progressivity," meaning the wealthy would bear the same share of the tax burden as they do now. Mr. Boehner's team balked, saying too many middle-class Americans pay no income taxes at all now.
Right -- the Republican desire to reduce the progressivity of the tax code is its central political goal. It's not going to compromise on that in a negotiation where Republicans are holding a gun to Democrats' heads. How did the administration not understand this?
And this part bordered on total parody:
The White House asked for an additional $400 billion in tax revenue, saying it was needed to get enough Democratic votes. White House officials say they got no signals the request would be a deal-breaker. But by week's end, the deal was dead.
On a Friday night, July 22, the president and Mr. Boehner held dueling news conferences, each blaming the other for the breakdown. The next day, the president called Mr. Boehner and offered to return to the $800 billion target, trying to save the deal. Mr. Boehner declined.
Within a few days, the White House would realize that taxes wouldn't be part of any agreement.
Within a few days? Years and years of cementing absolutist anti-tax fervor wasn't enough? Then, after they backed away from a wildly slanted agreement for the second or third time, refused to take phone calls, declared the deal dead, it took a few more days?
Laura came home that night and told Jim that she had spent the night with her ex-boyfriend. Jim asked that she agree to stop doing so, and when she refused to answer, he withdrew the request. She told him she despised him, left the apartment without saying where she was going, and would not take his repeated phone calls.
Within a few days, Jim realized the relationship was in trouble.
I suppose, to make the analogy work, Laura would have to have spent the previous couple decades working as a prostitute and authoring a series of tracts denouncing monogamy.