A friend of mine who works in administration told me that the most valuable book he ever read, professionally, was a book about negotiating styles. In his view, the most difficult style to deal with was Soviet-style negotiation. Here’s a brief summary of that:
1. Taking extreme starting positions
2. Claiming limited authority
3. Employing emotional tactics such as exasperation, or getting angry and storming out of the room
4. Viewing concessions by the adversary as a sign of weakness.
5. Delaying giving concessions and then only giving very small amounts
6. Paying no attention to deadlines
During the cold war the Soviets used to consider each concession that NATO would make as a sign of weakness. To have a good win-win negotiation both sides have to make some concessions.
Aside from 2., this is exactly the method by which Republicans “negotiate” with Obama. The other day, Bobo, of all people made the (accurate) observation that:
[M]y problem with the Republican Party right now, including Paul, is that if you offered them 80-20, they say no. If you offered them 90-10, they’d say no. If you offered them 99-1 they’d say no. And that’s because we’ve substituted governance for brokerism, for rigidity that Ronald Regan didn’t have.
I’m not sure it’s primarily about brokerism, though, it’s about making Obama look weak and setting the stage for a yearning for a leader who can “bring people together”. When Republicans storm out of negotiations, it’s not a sign that they are Sovietesque, it’s a sign that Obama has failed to unite the country.
This stuff isn’t complicated.