“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” — John F. Kennedy
“Negotiation in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than to disagree.” — Dean Acheson
"I shouldn't have to offer anything" — Barack H. Obama
Behold: Three statements by prominent U.S. statesmen of their day on the art of negotiation. Two are presidents, the other a secretary of state, but only one of them betrays a total ignorance of the job description of a leader. If you can’t pick out the quote, chances are you voted for Obama in 2012.
Obama’s latest act of cluelessness came up in an interview Monday morning with Steve Inskeep of NPR. Here is the full context of Obama’s remark:
Inskeep: As we talk, Mr. President, we're on a day when, obviously, a shutdown is looming. You said earlier that you were going to be talking to the leaders. Did you mean Republican leaders? And if so, which ones?
Obama: Well, I'm going to be talking to all of them. And we still have a window, there's still an opportunity during the course of this day, to avert a shutdown and make sure that we are paying our bills.
Inskeep: What can you offer?
Obama: And — if — if we — Steve, when you say, ‘What can I offer?’ — I shouldn't have to offer anything. They're not doing me a favor by paying for things that they have already approved for the government to do. That's part of their basic function of government; that's not doing me a favor. That's doing what the American people sent them here to do, carrying out their responsibilities.
It is fascinating that Obama mentions the carrying out of responsibilities, of “doing what the American people sent them here to do.” You have to wonder if he ever thinks about what the American people sent him to Washington to do.
He is forever telling other people what their job is. In April of 2012, he announced that if the Supreme Court struck down the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act, their actions would amount to "judicial activism." In spite of his gratuitous bullying, the high court upheld the vehicle for funding his signature legislative achievement.
Now he is reading the riot act to Congress, or more specifically to the Republican-controlled House, for requesting changes to a law that more Americans oppose than support. The changes — which included elimination of a cynical tax on medical devices and a requirement that members of Congress and the president to enroll in the plan — were summarily dismissed by an intransigent Democratic-controlled Senate. And yet the president has the chutzpah to accuse the GOP of shirking its responsibilities when he is clearly abdicating his own.
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