[T]he White House negotiating process was inadequate. Neither the president nor the House speaker ever wrote down and released their negotiating positions. Everything was mysterious, shifting and slippery. One day the president was agreeing to an $800 billion revenue increase; the next day he was asking for $400 billion more. Spending cuts that seemed to be part of the package suddenly seemed hollow. Negotiating partners disappeared.And isn't that how it should be? Let Congress write the legislation. The President has a veto power to be exercised or not... after he is presented with the product of Congress's complicated work. Why should he be in charge at the front end, trapping legislators trapped in the territory of the White House — or Camp David! — using his power and prestige to humble them?
It was phenomenally hard to figure out exactly who was offering what. Democrats in Congress were kept in the dark and were understandably suspicious. It was all a recipe for misunderstandings, hurt feelings and collapse.
... [T]he president lost his cool. Obama never should have gone in front of the cameras just minutes after the talks faltered Friday evening. His appearance was suffused with that “I’m the only mature person in Washington” condescension that drives everybody else crazy. Obama lectured the leaders of the House and Senate in the sort of patronizing tone that a junior high principal might use with immature delinquents. He talked about unreturned phone calls and being left at the altar, personalizing the issue like a spurned prom date.
Obama’s Friday appearance had a gigantic unintended consequence. It brought members of Congress together. They decided to take control.
In fact, now — as Brooks notes — Boehner and Reid are presenting written proposals that we the people can look at and judge.
Boehner released a plan that involved statutory spending caps with an enforcement mechanism to make sure the cuts are real. Reid released a plan involving bigger long-term spending cuts, with much of the heavy lifting done by a bipartisan select committee. These two carefully coordinated plans are different, but they naturally fit together....It shouldn't have to be called humbling. I think the President was trying to humble Congress. That shouldn't work and it didn't work.
This should be a humbling moment for the White House, and maybe a learning experience.
A toast to separation of powers!