Negotiating 101, Barack Obama in the Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine

04/11/2011 10:20 am ET | Updated Jun 11, 2011

In this week's case study John Boehner plays the Good Cop who's negotiating with and "trying to help" the weakened Barack Obama in crisis. "Hey Barack, I'll do the best I can, but you've got to help me keep away those Bad Cops, those Tea Party crazies. Stay close to me, Barack, and we'll cut the deal." Obama listens, compromises more than he wishes, and they shake hands on the deal. But Good Cop Boehner calls Obama at 4am and says, "Oh shucks, those crazies just screamed at me again and demanded more. Let's appease those crazies with just half again of what they want." Obama gives away more again -- and more than he ever had to -- undermining what seemed to be his bedrock principles while the Good Cop praises, "Hey Neville, err, I mean Barack, now you can tell your people 'We have peace in our time.' "

The second scenario might be that Obama isn't the amateur negotiator he appears to be, and rather, he's the one who's playing the Good Cop and all the Republicans politicos are playing the Bad Cop, with both cops on one side against their constituents, the one electorate, us. From that perspective, we can look back to the inception of Obama's administration since it made its key appointments directly from the Bush Republican administration, and in doing so, Obama incorporated his administration with Wall Street and the Medical Industrial Energy Military Complex. In that regard, and it's no different than the Republican leadership.

Of the two possibilities, Obama emphatically states it's appeasement by declaring consistently that the best path in negotiation is to start, oddly, in the middle and then compromise, as he's done so from the beginning such as with the health industry. Has he been playing Neville Chamberlain with the Republicans and the Tea Party? That's extreme, but not far off. OR, is he the True Believer who perceives himself to be the Good Cop in what is the ultimate GC/BC routine -- a truly brilliant distraction away from correcting the system -- which is run by the powers that be and who remain unchastened and unreformed even after they crashed the world's economic system while simultaneously cashing out, literally.

How do we transcend the distraction of negotiations which don't serve its constituents, and move forward together? The answer next week, in:

Lesson #2 in "Negotiating 101" -- Pulling the rug out from under Good Cop/ Bad Cop routines.