What Markos Said: Obama's Negotiating Style Sucks
by David Atkins
Markos at Daily Kos makes an excellent point, looking the President's poll numbers and rightly concluding that his overly conciliatory negotiating style has cost him and Democrats dearly:
President Barack Obama entered the debt ceiling negotiations with a net-negative approval rating. As House Speaker John Boehner became more belligerent and confrontational, Obama soared. The people were firmly behind him! But then he began offering concession after concession, hoping to seem "reasonable" and look like the "adult in the room", and his numbers simply tanked. That's a mathematical fact, not opinion.
He didn't return to net-positive approvals until the Democratic convention this September. People didn't reward Obama's conciliatory approach to the negotiations. Rather, they saw it (rightly) as weakness, and reacted accordingly. No one likes a weak president.
So some Obama apologists claim that the elections proved that people approved of Obama's leadership style. Well, the data says way otherwise.
Markos then looks at exit polls showing that Romney won handily on being a strong leader and sharing voters' values, and correctly concludes:
For those who based their choice on leadership, Obama got killed 61-38. And the president lost the "vision" and "values" questions handily as well. So how did he win? He cleaned up 81-18 with people who voted on which candidate cared about them the most. In other words, voters thought Mitt Romney was an aloof dick and trusted Obama most to look out for them. So maybe he should validate that trust.
Little more to add to that. Lots of people, ourselves at Hullabaloo included, have said that one of the damaging aspects of Democrats winning the Presidency in 2012 would be the seeming validation in D.C. circles of President Obama's negotiating style and budget priorities. But it's not as if there was a choice in the matter. A Romney presidency would have been much, much worse.
Obama isn't doing himself any favors by drawing lines in the sand then inevitably capitulating. Republicans have learned that there isn't a negotiating stance that Obama won't compromise. That doesn't lend itself to smart negotiations. Rather, it creates unbalanced ones, as Republicans simply wait for Obama to cave on his demands. They've learned that for Obama, making a deal is more importnat than what's in the deal.
It doesn't matter to the White House now, just like it didn't matter in June 2011, that the voters are with Obama. And it doesn't matter to Republicans now, just like it didn't matter in June 2011, that the voters are against them. In the end, everyone assumes Obama will capitulate, so why should Republicans deal in good faith?
So all we can do is fight to make them see the error of their ways as much as possible, and to steel the firmer progressives against these wrongheaded and foolish "Grand Bargain" negotiations.