#Cliffgate Update: GOP Wants Obama To Negotiate With Himself
One of the biggest differences between the current shutdown situation and the ones that occurred in 1995 and 1996 is that Bill Clinton could negotiate with Newt Gingrich knowing that the deal they agreed to would be accepted by their respective political parties.
That's absolutely not the case today.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) clearly does not speak for the House GOP caucus. Indeed, Boehner has been slapped down by his caucus so often and so hard in recent days that it's more likely almost anything he would agree to will be rejected out of hand than it will be taken seriously.
There's no one after Boehner. Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has shown no willingness to take the lead. In addition, with Cantor supporting the Boehner plans that have been rejected, it is not clear that he has the ability to convince the House GOP caucus to do anything either.
And if that's not enough, Cantor's performance during the fiscal cliff negotiations, when he unilaterally stopped negotiating with Vice President Biden rather than compromise, creates grave doubts about his willingness and ability to be of help this time around.
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) should be the natural person for the caucus to turn to in this situation. But...and its a very telling but...he has been completely AWOL and apparently has intentionally played no role whatsoever in the shutdown/debt ceiling debate. There's no reason to expect him to step up now.
The situation in the Senate is similar. In wake of the revolt led by Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) the past few weeks, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) obviously no longer can guarantee that he speaks for the Senate GOP caucus or can convince it to do anything, at least when it comes to budget-related issues. And McConnell's tea party challenger in the Kentucky GOP primary gives him little room to maneuver in any case.
There's no one behind McConnell. Paul Ryan's equivalent -- Senate Budget Committee Ranking Republican Jeff Sessions (R-AL) does not have the standing the sell a deal to the Senate GOP caucus let alone to House Republicans.
So for everyone who insists the president should be negotiating with congressional Republicans to avoid a shutdown , ask yourself one question: With whom should the president negotiate?
At the moment, anything the president offers would only be a move away from his current position with no assurance that anyone could do anything but reject the proposal. No one on the opposite side of the table is in any position to counter.
That's just asking the White House to negotiate with itself.