UM, ISN’T THIS A CASE OF CALLING YOUR OWN BLUFF?... I mean, I’m not a big poker player, but I thought the point of a bluff is not to admit it’s a bluff . . . .I'd say the biggest problem with the poker metaphor is that it characterizes the talks as a game... and, more particularly, a game in which, on any given hand, somebody wins the whole pot. At the point in poker where you make a comment like "Don’t call my bluff," you are trying to lure the other player into making the wrong decision so you can win it all. In the ultra-serious debt negotiations, where supposedly the 2 sides are engaging in give and take to reach a consensus for the sake of the people, it's bad to reveal that you see it as a game and you're trying to win it... for yourself.
UPDATE: “I’d love to play poker with him. Does he know that it’s played with cards?”
Now, there's also the question whether someone who plays poker competently would use the phrase "Don’t call my bluff." Glenn is right that you don't want the other player to know when you are bluffing, but saying "Don’t call my bluff" isn't admitting you're bluffing. Indeed, if you were playing with someone who thought it was, saying "Don’t call my bluff" would be a great way to get them not to fold when you have an excellent hand. You could just as well say the opposite — "Call my bluff" — in the same situation for the same reason. The other player has the same problem he has when you don't say anything at all — when you keep a poker face: He doesn't know what you have.
Think about when someone outside of a poker game might use the phrase "Don’t call my bluff." Meade and I were talking about that and he said: It's something a father would say. "Son, don't call my bluff." In other words: Do you think I'm kidding? Try me. Within some father-son relationships, that's a very powerful move. The father is demanding obedience, and the son is afraid of what will happen if he does not accede to his father's demands. The father isn't saying what the consequence will be, but the fear of the father's power is enough to make the son comply. He can't risk finding out. It's a test of parental authority.
And we know Obama would like us to see him in that fatherly role. He would like to have our compliance because he knows best. Eat your peas.