Friday, July 22, 2011

Offer Concessions They Won't Accept. Then Hit Them With Platinum.

I've been out of the loop lately, with a bunch of fun conferences in New Zealand, but now I'm chilling in Tasmania and there's time to think about debt ceiling stuff. I liked the thing Nick linked to about Obama's high approval in polling on that issue.

I wonder how much the positions originally staked out by the participants affect the final outcome here. If this is a negotiation where the initial positions really don't bear on what happens at the end (perhaps because there are some awesome moves available to resolve the situation that one side isn't expecting, like minting trillion-dollar platinum coins or whatever) Obama's done a very good job. Graciously offering massive concessions that the other side is absolutely committed to ungraciously rejecting is a fine way to win PR battles.

Criticism that Obama's playing it wrong and conceding way too much too early assumes that we're in the kind of negotiation where both parties meet in a spot roughly equidistant from their earlier positions. Maybe we are, and then Obama's made some mistakes. But insofar as we're not, Obama may be doing this right.
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