Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner seems to think so:
Consider, then, “Maneuver X.” As modified to fit the current political environment, it would mean that Republicans remove all pressure. They should give Obama his debt limit increases without preconditions, and they shouldn’t allow any government shutdowns.
Meanwhile, Republicans should use their majority in the House to pass bills that actually do address the nation’s problems — its economic stagnation, rising energy and health care costs, mounting debt and so on. At the same time, they can keep blocking major new expansions of government.
This two-pronged strategy would allow Republicans to isolate Obama and establish themselves as the responsible ones. If he refuses to get serious about addressing the nation’s debt problem, it will be a lot harder to escape responsibility if he can’t point and say, “Hey, look over there, House Republicans want to blow stuff up.”
In the unlikely event that this forces Obama to get serious about tackling the national debt, great. But if he doesn’t, Obama’s legacy will be that of a president who came into office promising to make the “tough choices” necessary to solve our nation’s problems, then proceeded to duck them. Meanwhile, Republicans will have laid out their own vision, and their candidates will have a stronger case to make in 2014 and 2016.
Though no two situations are ever exactly the same, it’s worth looking back at the Democrats’ strategy following their takeover of Congress in 2006. Despite their strong rhetoric, they ultimately caved to President Bush by agreeing to continue funding the Iraq War. This generated a forceful backlash among their base, but it also enabled them to continue running against Bush’s handling of Iraq, rather than allowing Bush to change the subject to “Democrats don’t care about our troops.”
During this time, Democrats also pushed legislation that furthered their agenda — including an expansion of the children’s health care program SCHIP (which Bush vetoed) and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (which Republicans blocked in the Senate). Both bills were quickly passed and enacted once Obama became president.
If Republicans continue their predictable pattern of the last two years, they’ll get predictable results — lots of bruises with little progress on their agenda. Instead, they should shake up Washington by executing “Maneuver X.”
Klein is borrowing the “Maneuver X” riff from a line of sales jargon in Barcelona, Whit Stillman’s second movie, from 1994. For my podcast interview with Stillman discussing his latest film, Damsels in Distress from last April, click here.
(And for snapshots from my pilgrimage to Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion in 2000, those are online here.)