The “push” of the details of any deal (and the threat of economic meltdown) will eventually come head to head with the “shove” of the hard emotional truth that the vast majority of Washington Republicans and conservatives will not do anything, participate in any act, that can be construed as a win for Barack Obama.
That, in the end, is what the debt-ceiling endgame is going to be about: Can enough Republicans break out of this mindset?
The fight is partly about legitimate ideological differences, and it’s partly about the Republicans seeing a rare opportunity to use the occasion to win some big cuts to the domestic budget and maybe entitlements if they’re lucky. But let’s be real. It’s also about not giving Obama a victory. In fact, on a deep emotional and psychological level, it’s chiefly about that. Now that’s not what Republicans go on cable television and say. But it’s quite obviously been the whole strategy since the stimulus bill: Obama gets nothing from us.
“Rhetoric creates its own reality. Say someone is a terrible American and eventually you believe it. And once you believe it, you can’t negotiate with him. You can only defeat him.”