Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meditations On The Game Of "Chicken"

An alternate view of the debt-ceiling chicken game is provided by UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge. Which side will blink first: the POTUS 44 or the Morons? This indeed is an interesting conundrum. Don't forget the ancient Chinese curse ("May you live in interesting times.") either. If this is a (fair & balanced) zero sum game, so be it.

[x TNR]
Obama Should Just Give In To The Republicans
By Michael Kinsley

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President Obama should give in. Yes, this mess is all the Republicans’ fault. Yes, it’s outrageous that they can hold the government hostage in order to reargue a law that’s been voted on, signed, enacted, and upheld by the Supreme Court. Yes, it’s a terrible precedent. Nevertheless, he should give in.

He should speak to the nation and say, “I cannot in good conscience put you and this country through the traumatic consequences of a default. The Republicans apparently don’t feel that way. They don’t care whether veterans and seniors get the benefits they have earned. They don’t care whether they destroy the full faith and credit of the United States, which has never before defaulted on its debts and made the dollar the world’s safest currency. They don’t care if their irresponsibility drives us into a new recession or worse. They don’t even seem to care if the families of soldiers dying in defense of our freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq get a proper opportunity to grieve and honor them.

“The sad truth is that if you don’t care about any of that, it gives you tremendous power over those who do. Perhaps unfortunately, I do care. And I believe the stakes are too high to let this become a testosterone contest. So I have sent a letter to Speaker Bohner, saying that I will agree to a year’s postponement of the Affordable Care Act, if he will agree to a rise in the debt limit that is at least big enough to spare us another episode like this for a year.

“I can’t pretend that this is not a defeat for common sense, good government, and democracy. And if people wish to see it as a defeat for me, so be it. I have more important things to worry about. “

Just as not caring about the good of the country gives strength to the Republicans, not caring about how he looks would give strength to Obama. You win the game of chicken by refusing to play.

In a Parliamentary system, a crisis like the one we’re having would never happen. If relations between the prime minister and parliament ever reached the low point that the president and Congress have reached in this country, the prime minister would demand a vote of confidence. The exact wording is established by tradition: “This house has no confidence in her majesty’s government.” If he or she loses this vote (that is, if the resolution carries, the prime minister resigns and “goes to the country” (that is, calls an election). And the people decide who’s right, and who therefore has the right to govern.

President Obama cannot call an election, but we’re having a midterm election in about a year, and he can make it a referendum on whether people want the Constitution effectively rewritten by madmen so that crises like these can happen more often.

The media will no doubt call Obama weak because he gave in. So let them. Sticks and stones. Meanwhile, will the Republicans really take the past couple of weeks as a precedent and push him around on every issue that comes up? Highly unlikely. They are already getting most of the blame. They surely don’t look forward to trying to convince voters it was such a swell experience that they’re going to put us through it again and again. Ω

[Michael Kinsley is a political journalist, commentator television host, and liberal pundit; since January 2013, Kinsley has been The New Republic's editor-at-large. Primarily active in print media as both a writer and editor, he also became known to television audiences as a co-host on CNN's "Crossfire." Kinsley has been a notable participant in the mainstream media's development of online content; Kinsley was the founding editor of Slate. Kinsley graduated from Harvard University in 1972. At Harvard, Kinsley served as vice president of the University's daily newspaper, The Harvard Crimson. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, then returned to Harvard for law school. While still a third-year law student, he began working at The New Republic and finished his J.D. degree in the evening program at The George Washington University Law School. His most recent book is Please Don't Remain Calm: Provocations and Commentaries (2008).]

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