Here is one creative suggestion to solve one of the great problems of the Obama presidency:
President Obama should hire a Hollywood agent to negotiate on his behalf with Republicans in Congress.
I have been in this town for some time, and I never seen a president who is less successful at negotiating with opponents. Of course, if he gives up the public option, gives up lower drug prices, and gives up cutting healthcare costs he will he win the prize of a healthcare bill that is far less than what he promised and what we deserve.
Of course, if the president surrenders and extends tax cuts for the wealthy, which he did again last December, even though Democrats still had large majorities in the House and Senate, he will win and can celebrate a bipartisan achievement which every millionaire can celebrate.
The truth is, Democrats generally tend to be very bad negotiators. Let's be honest.
Even when Democrats had 60 Senators and an almost 80 vote majority in the House, they did not exactly rival Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal or Kennedy's New Frontier in achievements.
I learned a lot about negotiating from working with great diplomats such as former Reagan Special Ambassador Philip Habib, and from working with the agency that represented Frank Sinatra. And from working for Senator Lloyd Bentsen and for the House Democratic leadership under Speakers beginning with Tip O'Neill.
Let me put it this way about this White House, to amend a movie line: the problem here is a failure to know how to negotiate.
Right now Republicans in Washington are waging a battle they may well win, to ensure that no sacrifice is asked of any wealthy American, or any conglomerate that is now paying zero taxes, in a debt ceiling deal that would heap even more Draconian pain on the poor and the middle class.
This is incredible. Think about it. A huge majority of voters agrees with Democrats on this. Poll after poll shows that the Republican protection of the super-wealthy and tax-free corporate conglomerates is highly unpopular with 60% to 80% of voters. Yet is it actually conceivable that Democrats surrender this point, and Republican refusal to compromise wins the day.
Democrats must learn how to fight for high principle, and must learn to never surrender, because Republicans now believe they will surrender every time.
Say what you want about showbiz, I love it myself, and at times I have been part of it.
What the president needs is a Hollywood agent who knows how to negotiate, how to avoid these endless capitulations and surrenders, and how to close a big deal on favorable terms.
Democrats can surrender every time, and claim credit for great bipartisan victories.
I suggest a better idea. Lets find the president a Hollywood agent to negotiate for him and if you have any candidates, let's do lunch.
If things don't change fast we will all be poor, except the super-rich.