Jonathan Chait says the problem with Republicans is that they’re operating as if they’re either unaware of or don’t understand why the president can’t negotiate over the debt limit, which he truly can’t do.
But, you know, at least Republicans kinda sorta have an excuse, since, as Chait says, it’s in their interest not to acknowledge this. (Maybe they think that if they look like they don’t understand Obama’s position, it will cause him to reconsider as we get close to the edge…) What’s Cokie Roberts’ excuse? Here was the erstwhile dean of Sunday morning punditry on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday:
At least at the moment, he's [Obama’s] not moving. At the moment, neither side is moving. … And the American people think that they're a bunch of kids playing in the sand box. And neither side is covering itself with glory.
I might say this whole business of, you know, we won't negotiate with a gun to your head, actually I would prefer to negotiate with a gun to my head rather than have somebody shoot me.
And I think that's where they could end up if they don't sit down and talk.
So, to review, the House GOP may or may not understand that Obama can’t negotiate with a “gun to his head,” something that would completely reorder our system of government by allowing any future minority party to advance an agenda it has neither the votes in Congress nor the popular support to sustain. But Cokie Roberts clearly doesn’t understand this problem. Is that not disqualifying for a pundit? I mean, you don’t have to agree with the president’s position. But you should at least be aware of it. Especially after he and his aides have spent the last two weeks repeating it over and over again.
Noam Scheiber is a senior editor at The New Republic. Follow @noamscheiber