And the promise to talk, if only the GOP buckles and raises the debt ceiling first, costs even less than nothing. It's an Obama "let me win" ploy that sets up any talks. The good news is that at least Boehner gets that if he gives up his cards, he's got nothing left to bargain with.
Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama is ready to talk even on Republicans' terms, he insisted Tuesday, so long as Congress acts first to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling -- even for a short period.At a news conference, Obama indicated Republicans could essentially set the agenda for budget negotiations, but only if Congress agrees first to a short-term spending plan to fund the government and to raise the federal borrowing limit to avoid a possible first-ever U.S. default next week."I will talk about anything," the president said.House Speaker John Boehner, speaking Tuesday afternoon after what he called a "pleasant" but ineffectual phone call with Obama, promptly rejected the president's comments as nothing new."What the president said today was if there's unconditional surrender by Republicans, he'll sit down and talk to us," Boehner said. "That's not the way our government works."
It reminds me of the joke about the guy who offers a woman $5 to sleep with him, and when she's offended he offers her $100,000. When she accepts he tries again at $20. She asks what kind of woman he thinks she is and he responds "We've already established that, now we are just haggling over price."
Obama wants the GOP to capitulate 'if only a little', because he knows once they have done so, they can't go back to bargain from a strong position. In fact they can't go back to their constituency and say they stood firm. He knows that. He knows he has again won the PR battle. By appearing conciliatory the press can gloss over Boehner's response or portray it as steadfast obstinacy.
Given that, there's now no point in capitulating if the press goes there.