Soviet style negotiation

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.






62 replies
  1. 1
    Bnut says:

    Sorry to do this, but can we get an SEC Championship open thread?

  2. 2

    Bobo can go fuck himself, because he’s the enabler here. He’s broder in pastels.

  3. 3
    Corner Stone says:

    This stuff isn’t complicated.

    Then why hasn’t he figured this out yet?

  4. 4
    Keith G says:

    @Bnut: I thought we were. Cam Newton vs Barak Obama. Ooops.

  5. 5
  6. 6
    4tehlulz says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Bobo et al aren’t the real problem; the true cancer killing America is reporting like this:

    Bill blocked to let upper-income tax cuts expire

    Fuck you AP.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    You won’t. You won’t break me. You won’t.

    Sorry. A little Crowbar for your ass.

  8. 8

    @4tehlulz: well, we have lots of enablers. AP has already shown their hackdomishness with the McCain DADT and earlier. Ron Fournier was just the tip of the iceberg.

  9. 9
    Adam says:

    “Aside from 2., this is exactly the method by which Republicans “negotiate” with Obama. ”

    Does 2 mean that the soviets would claim they have limited authority or that the person they are negotiating with has limited authority?

    Correct me if I’m wrong but haven’t the birthers been all about claiming that Obama isn’t/shouldn’t be the POTUS and hence doesn’t have authority.

  10. 10
    Keith G says:

    @Adam:

    Does 2 mean that the soviets would claim they have limited authority or that the person they are negotiating with has limited authority?

    The former.

    “We can’t agree to that, we have to contact the Premier”

    Think of your car salesman.

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    They have the manners of terrorists.

    I’d take my chances with Somali pirates first.

  12. 12
    craigie says:

    Are we really sure they would accept 100-0? The individual mandate was their idea; they rejected it. Cap and Trade was their idea; they rejected it.

    They’re not even playing a game called ‘negotiation’

  13. 13
    uloborus says:

    Which leads to the big question: Can we get ANYTHING worth doing done before we lose the House? How many senators are still sitting who got primaried out in the Rs?

  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:

    Here’s the blogger (James Trotter’s) follow-up post on win-win negotiations.

    http://jamestrotter.wordpress......otiations/

    Although herein the problem:

    In the end what it comes down to is finding out what the other side wants and helping them get it in a way where we get our needs meet too.

    And what do you do when their “want” is destroying you and your ability to get anything you need done?

    They are willing to take you — and the country — out to benefit their supporters’ (read “financers'”) “wants”.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    @uloborus: The President can take to the road and visit MA and ME. Will the Republican Senators change their mind, probably not but they depend on the Democratic voters for reelection. Both Snowe and Brown are up for reelection and lowering their approval ratings might help. He might not have the votes but he can make it uncomfortable for a few folks.

  16. 16
    Corner Stone says:

    @Elizabelle:

    In the end what it comes down to is finding out what the other side wants and helping them get it in a way where we get our needs meet too.

    We already know what they want. And it isn’t equitable to small d democratic principles. We have to determine how to shove their own false agenda down their throat.

  17. 17
    NR says:

    The thing is, Obama has to know this by now. He can’t not know it. And yet, he still insists on trying to negotiate with the Republicans. It’s the same thing he’s done for the last two years now. Back during the health care debate, Chuck Grassley said “This health care reform bill is going to pull the plug on Grandma,” and just a couple of days later, Obama praised him and said he was negotiating in good faith.

    Obama cannot still believe that the Republicans can be negotiated with. He simply cannot be that stupid. And so the question we have to ask ourselves is, why is he continuing to try? And I’m afraid the answer is obvious. Obama is just using the Republicans as cover for what he really wants to do: Govern as a center-right corporatist.

  18. 18
    Corner Stone says:

    @NR: He HAD to say those things! Don’t you get it? He had to say those things because arglebargle mcarrrrggghh!

    I’m afraid it’s going to take a while to get most here to understand that the outcomes we are seeing are the desired ones.

  19. 19
    James Atkinson says:

    I think republicans use a slight variation of tactic #2. They just claim that the higher authority is “the American people” or God.

    example: “The American People know that tax cuts help create jobs.”

  20. 20
    Nick says:

    @NR:

    The thing is, Obama has to know this by now. He can’t not know it. And yet, he still insists on trying to negotiate with the Republicans.

    He has two choices; negotiate with Republicans and get anything done, or don’t negotiate with Republicans and get nothing done. I’m not sure how you think he’ll get anything done is he doesn’t negotiate with them.

    There’s no point of being President if you can’t do anything.

  21. 21
    Nick says:

    you guys want a line in the sand?

    chucktodd Chuck Todd:
    POTUS told both Reid & Pelosi today he would veto an Bush tax rate extension compromise if it didn’t include unemployment benefit ext.

    Somehow I gather this won’t be enough to satisfy people.

  22. 22
    lllphd says:

    first off, that number 2 on the list is not that far off, given how loathe republicans are to bow to elitist experts and elitism in general; they do, after all, represent the knownothings. and proud of it.

    second, though, how is it exactly that obama is supposed to unite the country with (a) the media so hellbent on misrepresenting (for the ratings and profit, you understand), well, every damn thing; and (b) isn’t the point of this sovietesque non-negotiating style to point out that there IS no negotiating with these non-negotiators?

    so we blame obama for this? no doubt, some solution must be found, but what are your suggestions? do we throw off all our principles and get down in the mud with the slugs? if he refuses to stop negotiating with the non-negotiators he’ll just be accused of obstruction. you know the script.

    i’m as frustrated as the next, but i’ll be damned if i blame obama for an impossible situation. but i am trying to figure some kind of strategy. seems to involve jiu jitsu….

  23. 23
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NR:

    Obama cannot still believe that the Republicans can be negotiated with. He simply cannot be that stupid. And so the question we have to ask ourselves is, why is he continuing to try? And I’m afraid the answer is obvious. Obama is just using the Republicans as cover for what he really wants to do: Govern as a center-right corporatist.

    The IRS commissioner just testified that if Congress fails to pass all of the tax fixes needed — not just the expiring Bush tax cuts — about 21 million taxpayers will pay much more because of a hike in the AMT and 25 million may end up having to re-file their taxes because the extenders were not passed. He didn’t even try to estimate how many people would have their refunds delayed while the above problems were fixed.

    But the only possible reason Obama could have for negotiating with the Republicans to get these things passed is because he’s a right-wing patsy. Gotcha.

  24. 24
    Nick says:

    @lllphd: ,

    how is it exactly that obama is supposed to unite the country with (a) the media so hellbent on misrepresenting (for the ratings and profit, you understand), well, every damn thing; and (b) isn’t the point of this sovietesque non-negotiating style to point out that there IS no negotiating with these non-negotiators?

    He isn’t, but that’s not the point. I don’t think many on the left are interested in “uniting the country” anymore.

  25. 25
    lllphd says:

    cornerstone, you’re right that we know what they want and it doesn’t square with our principles. hell, what they want is our utter demise, so i hardly find a compromise along that line is worth pursuing.

    the shoving it down their throats thing, tho; that also does not square with our principles.

  26. 26
    Tim F. says:

    You know who else united his country and ended political bickering? Yep.

  27. 27
    Corner Stone says:

    @Nick: Great. Let’s hope so. Right? Amirite?

  28. 28
    Corner Stone says:

    @Tim F.: Who?

  29. 29
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne: We knew this. Obama and his WH staff knew this! The D leadership knew this!
    Stop fucking making excuses!

  30. 30
    lllphd says:

    nick, i was responding to this in dougj’s post:

    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.

    and if we’re not about the business of uniting the country, what are we doing again exactly?

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    We knew this. Obama and his WH staff knew this! The D leadership knew this!
    Stop fucking making excuses!

    What, that a compromise would have to be found despite Republican obstructionism because it would fuck up way too many other government functions?

    If you knew that compromises would have to be made, what are you fucking whining about?

  32. 32
    lllphd says:

    don’t know who timf has in mind for this prestigious honor, but the first name that came to my mind was osama bin laden.

    the common enemy is always the great uniter.

  33. 33
    trizzlor says:

    @Nick: This is exactly right. Many of the same people who (rightly) characterize the GOP tactics as hostage-taking want the Democrats to engage in the same exact tactics. Agree with it or not, but the GOP is just as wedded to the idea that millionaires deserve tax breaks as the Democrats are to the contrary; for both sides it’s an existential principle that can’t be compromised. The GOP is just taking Cole’s own advice to not give an inch.

  34. 34
    emdee says:

    DougJ: I would love to know what book your friend read and recommended.

  35. 35
    Shalimar says:

    @Mnemosyne: I don’t understand why compromises have to be made. The Republican position is already unpopular. It will be even more so once everyone understands they won’t keep their own tax cuts because Republicans are holding out for rich people. Screw negotiations.

    Obama should go into campaign mode and start traveling around the country for the next 27 days telling everyone what is about to happen. He can start by explaining at every stop that under the bill that failed today rich people will still keep tax cuts on their first $250k every year. Because it is a huge media fail for our country that so few people realize that.

    Republicans want to screw 99% of Americans if it doesn’t mean helping 1%. You don’t negotiate with people like that, you do everything you can to make sure the 99% know what is really happening.

  36. 36
    Emerald says:

    @NR:

    It’s the same thing he’s done for the last two years now.

    Yes, it is. And it’s yielded the best legislative record since LBJ, and some people think since FDR.

    Over on Red State, I’m told, they complain that their Republicans keep “caving” to Obama.

    I don’t like the can’t-we-all-just-get-along style either. I wanna punch ’em.

    Punching ’em, however, does not get stuff done. Obama gets stuff done. So we’ll see how this turns out.

  37. 37
  38. 38
    Merkin says:

    @Shalimar:

    The Republican position is already unpopular.

    Because the people keep voting for the fucks anyway, despite disagreeing with them on almost EVERY SINGLE FUCKING THING

  39. 39
    Nick says:

    @Shalimar:

    Obama should go into campaign mode and start traveling around the country for the next 27 days telling everyone what is about to happen.

    It’s been done.

    He can start by explaining at every stop that under the bill that failed today rich people will still keep tax cuts on their first $250k every year

    Biden did that yesterday

    Because it is a huge media fail for our country that so few people realize that.

    Indeed

  40. 40
    Corner Stone says:

    @Emerald:

    Yes, it is. And it’s yielded the best legislative record since LBJ, and some people think since FDR.

    Hey! Great! Thanks!

  41. 41
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne: Don’t put words in my mouth you fucking sociopathic liar.
    Stop using your empty brainbucket to wordjumble what other people say.

  42. 42
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Shalimar:

    It will be even more so once everyone understands they won’t keep their own tax cuts because Republicans are holding out for rich people.

    The time it will take for everyone to understand that is infinite. There is NO WAY people will EVER process a tax hike under a Democratic president triggered by a lame-duck session run by a Democratic majority as “Republicans holding out for rich people.” They will understand it as an outgoing bunch of extremist liberals enacting one final fuck-you to the hardworking American people. Even when Republicans block tax cuts and play politics with the troops in a time of war, it doesn’t stick to them, because “everyone knows” that Republicans cut taxes and stick up for troops, while Democrats raise taxes and hate troops.

    I like the idea of Obama crusading for his tax cut plan and insisting that nothing else will do, but I have _grave_ doubts that people can be made to understand that the Republicans raised their taxes. It reminds me of an old robot expression, “Does not compute.” (h/t Futurama)

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Shalimar:

    I don’t understand why compromises have to be made.

    Because not passing the other pending legislation — including the AMT fix — will fuck up a whole lot of other things.

    Looked at in isolation, sure, let’s let the Bush cuts expire. But that also means no START treaty, no budget for the military, no DADT, no DREAM act, and a bunch of other things I’m forgetting.

    Congress fucked up — they decided not to hold a vote on the taxes before the election. That fuckup led to the further fuckup of most of the Blue Dogs getting voted out of office so now the House — where all financial bills must originate — is now controlled by Republicans.

    Now we have to clean up after Congress’ fuckup because next year will be too late, and shrugging our shoulders and saying, “Eh, what are you gonna do?” isn’t really an option.

    ETA: Also, no unemployment extension.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corner Stone:

    I do love how if you feel that I’ve misinterpreted something you said, it’s always because I’m a LYING LIAR WHO LIES. It couldn’t possibly be because no one understands what the hell you’re trying to say because you’re completely incoherent.

  45. 45
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne: No, it’s because you’re a lying liar who lies. That’s obvious to everyone but you. Because you’re a liar.
    If you can find where I said “compromise” in this thread I will agree with you.
    Otherwise, you’re a liar as usual.

  46. 46
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne: You are notorious for taking what people say and jumbling it up and then spitting it out to match what you want it to say.
    IOW, you are well known to be a pathetic liar who lies about every statement she objects to from other posters.
    You can’t help yourself. That’s ok.

  47. 47
    Tim F. says:

    Hitler. Duh. Other than restoring swagger to German foreign policy (cough), his two major selling points were that (1) he ended political bickering and unified Germany, and (2) he pulled Germany out of a crippling depression.

  48. 48
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Corner Stone:
    So when I pointed out that Obama now pretty much has to compromise because other functions of the government will collapse if he doesn’t, and you said:

    We knew this. Obama and his WH staff knew this! The D leadership knew this!
    Stop fucking making excuses!

    … what the fuck did you mean by it? It only makes sense as a response to something you imagine that I said and not what I actually said.

    So I’ll ask again — if you already knew that Obama and the White House staff and the Democratic leadership would end up having to compromise, what are you fucking whining about?

    ETA: Cue Corner Stone insisting that if I quote his entire post verbatim, that’s just MORE LYING!!

  49. 49
    Corner Stone says:

    @Mnemosyne: Where is the word “compromise” in your post at 23?
    You take an awful lot of liberties with peoples’ posts and just make them mean whatever you like them to mean.
    You should try not being a fucking liar for a day.

  50. 50
    Corner Stone says:

    It’s pretty clear Obama and his WH and the D leadership were in a tight spot. For 10 years they knew this. Because the Bush Tax Cuts were always going to expire.
    Only idiots like Mnemosyne can get past the obvious point here.
    We all knew they were going to expire, and they should be dealt with before the lame duck.
    No compromise needed. I never said that, and I never agreed to that.

  51. 51
    Keith G says:

    @Nick: That would be a strong move…worth a double shot when it happens.

  52. 52

    […] support a continuation of the Democratic-supported tax breaks on income under $250,000 per year. As DougJ points out, the Republicans are engaging in Soviet style negotiations. (I’ve often pointed out […]

  53. 53
    Shalimar says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Looked at in isolation, sure, let’s let the Bush cuts expire. But that also means no START treaty, no budget for the military, no DADT, no DREAM act, and a bunch of other things I’m forgetting.

    Those things aren’t passing anyway. Even if you make a deal with Republicans and extend the tax cuts for the rich, they will still renege on everything else as soon as the tax cut bill is signed. Because they don’t want any of that stuff to pass if it means the evil soshulist kenyan gets credit.

  54. 54
    Adam says:

    Agree with it or not, but the GOP is just as wedded to the idea that millionaires deserve tax breaks as the Democrats are to the contrary; for both sides it’s an existential principle that can’t be compromised.

    And here lies the problem.

    Why?

    Why are the GOP wedded to the idea that millionaires deserve tax breaks?

    Why does the Democratic Party believe that millionaires don’t deserve tax breaks?

    Maybe there are people doing research in to the effect of millionaires getting tax breaks.

    Maybe giving tax breaks to millionaires has had an effect on the economy that can be measured and reported on by those people.

    Maybe if someone actually cared, if it was an existential principle, that person would get out there and describe those effects and fight for what they believe in.

    Addendum: Compromise can be good but it’s hardly a compromise when the equation looks like this:

    Watered down POS legislation (D) – Everything we want or we’ll blow the fucker up (R)

  55. 55
    sherifffruitfly says:

    republican negotiation in video form:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8bhDMGru7ps

  56. 56
    mclaren says:

    This is exactly the negotiating tactics Obama should’ve used in the health care bill–as I pointed out repeatedly, as as everyone called me “insane” and a “psycho” for suggesting.

    Here’s how Obama should’ve started the health care negotiations:

    OBAMA: “I’m going to issue a presidential order nationalizing all doctors for the first five years after they finish medical school at an annual pay of $15,000 a year. Today, I have signed an executive order disbanding the AMA, and I’ve set up a presidential commission to oversee price-gouging by hospitals. Meanwhile, the DOJ has just arrested the head of every major medical devicemaker for bribery, conspiracy, and racketeering. The DOJ has also just arrested the heads of all the major pharmaceutical companies and the biggest health insurers on the same charges.”

    REPUBS: “Treason! Unconstitutional! We’ll impeach you! We’ll have you shot!”

    OBAMA: “Be my guest. In the meantime, I’m drafting this order declaring a national emergency and freezing the pay of all doctors and nurses at levels comparable to their counterparts in Europe for the duration of the emergency.”

    REPUBS: [Walk out of the room]

    REPUBS: [3 weeks later…] “Our rich doctor and hospital lobbyists are screaming at us to do something. Half the doctors in America have quit. The American medical system is collapsing.”

    OBAMA:”Sorry, I don’t have the power to fix our broken medical-industrial system single-handed, I’m only the president. (breaks down and weeps uncontrollably.) You forced me into it…I’ve signed a presidential order streamlining visas for qualified foreign doctors and quadrupling enrollments at all U.S. medical schools. In the meantime, I might be persuaded to defer the new excess-profits for doctors and hospitals and medical devicemakers and health insurers one of my good friends in congress preparing to introduce as a rider to the new defense bill.”

    REPUBS: “We’ll vote it down! ”

    OBAMA: “Great. Then the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq end because you’re not funding them. You can explain your actions to the American people –meanwhile, I’ll nationalilze all the army doctors.”

    REPUBS: “Can’t we talk about this?”

    OBAMA: “Sure. I’m flexible. We can compromise on a full public option for health care. But disbanding the AMA and expanding medical school enrollments is not negotiable…”

  57. 57
    mclaren says:

    @Shalimar:

    Looked at in isolation, sure, let’s let the Bush cuts expire. But that also means no START treaty, no budget for the military…

    Ooohh! Win-win!

  58. 58
    SFAW says:

    Re: 56

    Here’s how Obama should’ve started the health care negotiations:

    “Drop it! Or I swear I’ll blow this nigger’s head all over this town!” [As he jams the gun into his neck and drags himself through the Republicans towards the exit]

    McConnell: “Listen to him, men. He’s just crazy enough to do it!”

    It has about the same probability of success as your proposal, and if Obama does the whole scene, it’s funnier.

  59. 59
    Rhoda says:

    @mclaren: I want some of what you’re on.

  60. 60
    Nick says:

    @Corner Stone:

    We all knew they were going to expire, and they should be dealt with before the lame duck.

    you know who wanted to deal with it before the lame duck?

    Barack Obama

    maybe, just once, you should give the man an ounce of fucking credit for that.

  61. 61
    Sasha says:

    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.

    Any idea what the title/author of said book was?

  62. 62
    Pink Pig says:

    So, how do we destroy them? The Republicans, I mean.

    I don’t think that there is any point in negotiating with these guys. They aren’t remotely interested in playing fair or being constructive.

    The only thing to do, now that we have reached this stage, is to wipe them out. So, let’s start thinking seriously about how.

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