When ‘inflexible’ loses all meaning

The headline on the top political Associated Press article this morning reads, “Obama, Republicans trapped by inflexible rhetoric.” Seriously. That’s what it says. In fact, the story tells readers in the first paragraph that President Obama and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill are both “seemingly trapped in inflexible bargaining positions.”

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but let’s pause to think about this for a moment. GOP leaders are saying they want a deal that’s 100% in their favor. If they don’t get what they want, Republicans might crash the economy on purpose. As the process unfolds and the deadline draws closer, the GOP line is hardening and becoming more extreme.

In contrast, we have the Obama White House, which is prepared to accept all kinds of concessions to make Republicans happy. But because he’s urging lawmakers on both sides to be flexible and remain open to compromise, President Obama, we’re told, is taking an “inflexible” bargaining position.

It’s not just the AP — NPR had a report yesterday that told listeners that the left and right are both to blame for this mess.

This is, of course, one of the unwritten establishment rules of the American political discourse: it doesn’t matter if one side is actually more responsible for a problem in reality; both sides must share the blame at all times.

Eugene Robinson is right to lament the “reflexive tendency to see equivalence where none exists.”

The truth is that Democrats have made clear they are open to a compromise deal on budget cuts and revenue increases. Republicans have made clear they are not.

Put another way, Democrats reacted to the “grand bargain” proposed by President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner by squawking, complaining and highlighting elements they didn’t like. This is known throughout the world as the way to begin a process of negotiation.

Republicans, by contrast, answered with a definitive “no” and then covered their ears. Given the looming Aug. 2 deadline for default if the debt ceiling is not raised, the proper term for this approach is blackmail. […]

Republicans are taking the position that not a cent of new revenue can be raised, no matter the euphemism. Some Democrats, yes, are being scratchy and cantankerous. But Republicans are refusing to negotiate at all. That’s not the same thing.

The assumption among many has been that Republicans would get the blame in the event of a man-made catastrophe because, you know, they’d deserve it. But the AP and NPR reports are a reminder that the public often believes what the establishment media tells them to believe, and in case there were any doubts, the public would be told that “both sides” were “inflexible.”

That makes shining a bright light of reality all the more important. Dems are not only willing to accept a compromise, reducing the debt through a combination of spending cuts and new revenue, they’re even willing to tilt this deal heavily in the GOP’s favor, with far more cuts than revenue. Republicans, as of this morning, aren’t willing to accept a compromise at all. Period.

There need not always be a pox on both houses. Sometimes, only one deserves it.