This isn’t only about President Obama’s negotiating acumen. In conversations with the president’s key advisors and the President himself over the last three years one point that has always come out to me very clearly is that the President really believes in the importance of the Grand Bargain. He thinks it’s an important goal purely on its own terms. That’s something I don’t think a lot of his diehard supporters fully grasp. He thinks it’s important in longrange fiscal terms (and there’s some reality to that). But he always believes it’s important for the country and even for the Democratic party to have a big global agreement that settles the big fiscal policy for a generation and let’s the country get on to other issues — social and cultural issues, the environment, building the economy etc.
There’s no incentive for Republicans to settle. There is not, and never has been, any incentive for Republicans to solve problems politically. It’s not what they do. They don’t get elected to solve problems. They don’t get elected to lower taxes. They don’t even really get elected to cut spending. They get elected because liberals suck, full stop. And as long as they can still make the argument that liberals suck, they don’t need to do anything else.
So, I mean, go ahead and make them all kinds of offers. Go ahead and demonstrate your good faith, Mr. President. It’s the 240th time you’ve done this, but this time surely it’ll work.