Forget It, There's No 'Saving Face' In This Government Shutdown

Despite the mainstream media's constant pushing for President Obama and the Democratic leadership to concede more to give the GOP a chance to 'save face', that's exactly what we shouldn't be doing.

Weekends with Alex Witt, October 12, 2013

The hubby is very lucky I spend most of my time barefoot, because had I been wearing shoes, I would have thrown one at the television during this segment. What gives with hosting two former congressmen, both of whom believe that in order to prevent the government shutdown, President Obama has to give a little to the Republicans, to let them save face? NBC News' balance strikes again. They are relentless.

Well, you know what? F*@k the whole notion of giving a little to the Republicans (and Joe Sestak may never call himself a Democrat for his centrist neo-liberal betrayal). When a criminal takes a victim hostage, do we care about making sure he looks okay or feels good about his actions? How does that help? Does it discourage the hostage-taker from ever doing it again?

That's the key, and that's why the White House and Democratic leadership need to stand strong. Eric Liu at The Atlantic:

[A]s a matter of political strategy, if this crisis is truly to end rather than just be deferred, it will have to end in something like unconditional surrender by the radical conservative rump of the GOP—something Boehner has said he could not abide. If and when such surrender occurred, face would not be the prime consideration; restoration of sanity would be. A successful denouement couldn’t allow everyone to pretend the last couple of weeks were acceptable and everyone was equally a winner or loser; it would have to draw a bright, toxic line around these weeks and the tactics that created the crisis and say, “No more.”

But put this question of strategy to the side. The second and deeper reason why face isn’t a legitimate issue in the current crisis is that a concern for face—specifically, for sparing another the loss of face—is rightly the consequence rather than the cause of healthy norms. When such norms don’t exist, or when one side obliterates them, that side doesn't deserve solicitude or compensation for the reputational costs of their actions. Shuttering the entire government to relitigate a law and an election—to say nothing of blithely threatening national default—is a norm-obliterating act.
[..]
What has to happen in Washington today is that GOP radicals have to be isolated and shamed so that the rest of their party—conservatives who truly want to conserve rather than destroy—can reaffirm the norms of mutuality and trust in self-government. Only when that happens should the president (or the American people) care much at all about whether those who needlessly plunged us into crisis lose or save face. Otherwise our political culture will be doing what conservatives profess to hate: defining deviancy down.

The concessions have already taken place, for as much as the media ignores them. The Democrats have already conceded funding at sequester levels. They *should* be demanding expansions, not suggesting we might discuss chained CPI if the Republicans provide a "clean" Continuing Resolution.

There is no reason to negotiate any further. All it does is encourage the next hostage taking, the next tantrum, the next shock doctrine attempt. It has to stop and it has to stop now.

About Nicole Belle

Nicole Belle's picture
Mom, Wife, Media Critic/Political Analyst, Blogger, Austen Fanatic, Unapologetic Liberal NicoleBelle@crooksandliars.com

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