I thought I’d check in with David Frum since he opined yesterday that Obama’s bad negotiation skills are at least partially to blame for our current debt vote crisis. Today, he has two posts that make this basic point:
If you’re a Republican elected official, you want two things from the debt-ceiling budget talks:
1) You want the talks to succeed – to produce a deal that keeps the government in business and averts a financial catastrophe.
2) You want to align yourself personally with those who (unsuccessfully!) oppose the deal.[…]
Here’s the obvious problem: Depending on how the House Democrats vote, it’s possible dozens of Republican members of Congress can get both their wishes. But if every Republican indulges wish #2, then they will fail to realize wish #1.
The Republicans’ basic dilemma is that a “No” vote on the debt ceiling will reap great rewards for each individual “rebel” voter, but an overall “No” vote will kill the party. I don’t know what kind of negotiation-fu Frum thinks Obama could have used to overcome this basic structural problem, but I think his post yesterday was just an obligatory critique of Obama that he had to get out of the way before he got to the meat of the issue, which is that the current structure of his party rewards burning down the house.