TED: Have you ever heard of Maneuver X? When you get deeply into sales, you realize that every major transaction involves a mini identity crisis for the buyer. You think, “A green carpet. Am I really a green carpet person?” In romance, the same thing applies but on a humongous scale.
FRED: But what is Maneuver X?
TED: It’s removing all pressure. Creating sort of a space that the customer has to affirmatively cross. Only by disappearing more thoroughly and inexplicably than Montserrat can I change the current dynamic. Will it? I don’t know. I think it will. If not, I’m dead.
FRED: Wow. You’ve really thought this through. That’s really impressive. I haven’t thought through anything about Marta. But isn’t Maneuver X just another way of putting what we usually refer to as playing hard to get?
— From Whit Stillman’s brilliant 1994 film, Barcelona.
In his latest column, Roger L. Simon writes, “ObamaCare: They Don’t Call [the GOP] ‘The Stupid Party’ for Nothing:”
Cruz and Company played it exactly the wrong way. Like people who had never heard of Machiavelli or Sun Tzu, they fought the war they were destined to lose when a war they could win was just on the horizon.
That war of course is the elections of 2014 and then 2016 through which, with a Republican victory, ObamaCare would not only be defunded, it would be repealed. Beyond that, and at least equally importantly, a whole host of other matters — foreign and domestic — could be dealt with that have practically destroyed our country during these last few years.
Those elections are not the important thing, they are EVERYTHING. A Republican loss then and you might as well kiss the old USA good-bye.
But against this potential disaster, what Cruz and Company have been doing is no more than a publicity stunt, and an annoying one at that, and the public knows it — thus the Republican Party at 28%. (I repeat — a record low.) And don’t start crying about Harry Reid and the media and everything else. Sure, they’re creeps of the lowest order, but what else is new? Move on.
What would have been a winning strategy?
Well, here’s just one. Instead of voting not to fund ObamaCare or filibustering till the cows come home and closing everything down, don’t vote at all. Let the Democrats do all the new budget voting — CR, debt limit, etc. — in the House and the Senate.
Like the Barack Obama of old, the Republicans should just vote “present” — or simply not at all.
Let the Democrats own it all. Let them be entirely responsible for what happens between now and the 2014 election — ObamaCare, entitlements, deficit, the whole nine yards. The Republicans didn’t obstruct anything, didn’t close anything down or cost any government workers any jobs. They just didn’t approve it.
Trust me — the public will notice. And the Democrats, quite a number of them anyway, will be scared out of their wits.
It sounds like Roger has reached a similar conclusion to that of Philip Klein of the Washington Examiner, who in January, wrote a column titled, “Republicans should execute ‘Maneuver X:'”
The main character in the 1994 film “Barcelona” describes a sales technique he calls “Maneuver X.” When facing reluctance on the part of the buyer, he says, a salesman should step back and remove all pressure to change the dynamic of the situation.
In the movie, the character attempts to apply the technique to romance. Republicans should apply it to their dealings with President Obama.
* * * * * * *
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.
Does that Maneuver X sound like a viable strategy for the GOP? Discuss in the comments below.
Related: For my interview with Whit Stillman last year, discussing his then-latest film, Damsels in Distress, click here to listen.