MSNBC’s Chuck Todd is suffering from a severe — possibly terminal — case of beltway-itis. This malady afflicts 80% of the nation’s political pundits and 100% of the pundits working for CNN. The chief symptom of beltway-itis is a compulsion to cast equal blame on Democrats and Republicans whenever anything bad might happen, regardless of the facts.
Chuck was on Morning Joe today sternly chastising both Barack Obama and John Boehner for “not knowing how to negotiate.” If only these two guys “knew how to negotiate,” said Chuck, this fiscal cliff thingy could be solved lickety-split.
This is nonsense. Here’s the truth: Barack Obama and John Boehner know how to negotiate just fine, but only Obama is doing it. He’s decided he’s not going to deal with Boehner until Boehner agrees to 1) allow upper income tax rates to go up, and 2) raise the debt ceiling without any conditions. Obama is taking this hard line because he’s pretty sure he can get away with it. Republicans will pay a heavy political price if they don’t knuckle under.
Barack Obama is playing hardball, and that offends Chuck Todd’s delicate bipartisan sensibilities. But Nancy Pelosi put it best: Figure it out, Speaker Boehner.