Now that the dust has cleared and government services are open and available, let me engage in Monday morning quarterbacking.
Right after his 2012 election victory President Obama did something he rarely does: He tuned in to Fox News. Nothing, he noted at the time, is more satisfying than schadenfreude or what might be described as the mischievous delight in the misfortune of others. In this case, President Obama rejoiced over the defeat of his opponents.
Although a year passed since the president’s triumph, he still refers to Republicans as “enemies” rather than adversaries.
He refuses to engage in negotiations over Obamacare and he remains intractable over the debt limit. If there is one area in which he is prideful, it is putting Republicans in the position of seemingly responsible for the government shutdown. Schadenfreude lives.
The evidence for this claim is palpable. House conservatives have dropped all of their major demands, including defunding and delaying Obamacare, only to see President Obama reject their proposal for ending the stalemate.
He was intent on total victory, a stance that vindicates his position whether or not it is good for the country or even good for the normal give and take of politics.
At long last, members in the Senate on both sides of the aisle, have finally begun to focus on the major budget issues, e.g. a broad deficit reduction deal. In the shadows stand financial markets jittery about the impasse and fearful the inability to strike a deal could lead to default.
The contours of a deal were always evident: fund the government until mid-March, raise the debt limit through January, and tighten income eligibility rules for those receiving government subsidies for insurance. What may be the key factor, however, is whether the president would blink. For him, Obamacare is the centerpiece of this presidency.
Even though he has violated the rules of his own bill by allowing exemptions for unions and the Congress, he is adamantly opposed to adjustments and would influence spending. He didn’t blink and, by any reasonable estimate, did win.
It should be noted that some Republicans engaged in overreaching through their effort to repeal Obamacare; yet one might assume that any president would stand above the fray by considering conditions that would allow for compromise.
There is only one person who could have cut the Gordian knot and that is President Obama. However, the president remained in his bunker sure of this position and vehement about its retention. This is schadenfreude in its full glory.
The president appeared to be more concerned with opinion polls showing public sentiment leaning against Republicans than the welfare of the nation, alas of global financial markets.
Yes, I do believe a deal was inevitable. There was too much at stake for this not to happen, but the president wanted this to appear as a victory for himself and a defeat for Republicans. That goal is not merely childish, it is vindictive.
It also reveals a lot about this presidency after only one year through the second term.
Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the books "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America) and "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Books). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.
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