Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself"

We all know that the narrative gripping the poutragers is that President Obama is a bad negotiator. They think he constantly "gives away the store" and therefore assume that the Republicans take advantage of that. As a matter of fact, some prominent bloggers (warning: poutrage link) have gone so far as to postulate that this is why the Republicans can't say "yes" to anything.

If there's one thing Republicans have learned the last several years it's that Democrats don't know how to negotiate, so why bother compromising?

The problem with this analysis is that its based solely on a progressive viewpoint. In other words, its analyzing the Republican's actions from the perspective of liberals. That very seldom works.

If, instead, you look at things from the Republican's perspective, you see exactly the opposite in terms of their motivation.

To do that, go back just a few months to the negotiations over the 2011 budget. Remember that the poutragers were convinced that President Obama gave away the store. And then, when the details emerged...not so much. As a matter of fact, Republicans were pissed and the bill wound up needing heavy Democratic support to pass because the tea partiers bailed. Here's the conclusion reached by Erik Erickson (founder of Red State and conservative CNN commentator) from all of that:

Frankly, at this point, any House Republican who votes for the compromise should be flogged by the tea party movement — metaphorically speaking of course.

And we might really need to reconsider whether or not our existing leadership has the moral authority to continue leading....

This is embarrassing...

The one silver lining in all of this is that the House GOP Freshmen should now be radicalized against any deal cut by the House leadership.

The reality for Republicans is that President Obama and the Democratic leadership basically took Boehner to the cleaners during the last hostage crisis and they're going to do anything they can to avoid that outcome again. That's what is getting in their way of saying "yes" to anything.

This is a perfect example to me of how important it is to cultivate the skill of empathy. It does not require that you agree with your opponent. But without it, you will consistently misinterpret and misunderstand. That inevitably leads to strategies that are destined to fail.

The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.

- Sun Tzu


  1. I don't remember Obama winning. I remember him losing less than he could have. However, I am a liberal, so I may be blinded with passion.

  2. John,

    My point here - perhaps not articulated well enough - is that it can be important to be able to see it from the Republican's view. They think Boehner got creamed in those negotiations and that's why they don't trust him. Its also why he's bending over backwards to please them - his speakership is on a short leash and Cantor is breathing down his neck.

    That doesn't mean I agree with them or that I have one whit of sympathy for Boehner. Its just important information to have in planning strategy.

    By the way, I just visited your site and am going to add it to my blogroll. You are a wicked good writer! Boy, could I ever related to your post about "Let there be light."

  3. Oops John, the post I could relate to is "The Gentleman's Victory."

  4. Thanks. Gateway to Heaven is my best post, by far, but I enjoyed writing Let There be Light, though the consensus seemed to be that it sucked compared so most of my others.

  5. I spent a while hanging out on Daily Kos. You captured my ultimate thinking about what was going on there perfectly. There is this idea that there is some value in defeating your opponent verbally. And yet it never happens. But the attempt goes on and on and on....

    I still wonder at what point some of those folks will wake up and ask themselves what they're doing and why.

    On the other hand, its takes about a second for me to get hooked in and addicted. Fascinating phenomenon.

    I've always known that I'm a better debater than writer (at least the creativity part of writing). That's a big part of my addiction to blogging. I think the part I'm OK with is the exercise of articulating my thoughts/beliefs. And that does come more easily with a foil to go up against.

    Anyway, I saw the dates on those posts and hope you'll write more often.

  6. There's another factor: the teapublican base showed up at town halls over the July 4 break to demand their representatives tell Obama to go to hell. I have video of one of these events. Mo Brooks asked his constituents what specific cuts they would make; they named foreign aid programs...and then reemphasized that what they really wanted was Obama gone, and that this would solve all their problems. They really believe the only thing holding back their Judeo-Christian paradise is the evil Kenyan Marxist in the White House.

    You can watch it here:


  7. Smarty, not that I am a such an interesting topic or anything, but I write more than it seems.

    My "main" blog is Mysterious Things, which you visited, but it does not receive most of my writing.

    I write for Mad Mikes America, Fair and Unbalanced and I have another blog, John Myste Responds. Therefore, I am more prolific than I appear. My writing just gets spread around.

  8. Matt

    Good point! I think a lot of these representatives are in major fear of a primary if they don't follow the tea partiers demands.

    Thanks for the video!

  9. John,

    Thanks, I'll check out those other sites...always looking for good stuff.


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