The PJ Tatler

Has Harry Reid Really Taken Over the Shutdown Operations from Obama?

The Hill reports that Lord Obama has relegated maneuvers — because there are no negotiations — over the government shutdown to his lieutenant, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

President Obama has handed over the reins of leadership on government funding and the debt limit to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Reid is now fully in charge of his party’s negotiating strategy, a significant change from past showdowns with Republicans.

He has taken the initiative from Obama, who played the principal role in the 2011 debt-limit talks and New Year’s fiscal cliff deal.

I don’t believe a word of this story. It includes howlers like this one.

Liberal Democrats do not fully trust Obama, in part because of his more diplomatic style. Their disquiet was deepened by his past tax deals with Republicans and repeated offers to trim Social Security and Medicare costs.

Since when was President “I won” and ‘bring a gun to knife fights” and “hit them twice as hard” and “punish your enemies” diplomatic? Since, never. From day one he has been divisive by nature and by design.

Obama alarmed some in the Senate Democratic caucus last week when he convened congressional leaders at the White House to discuss the government shutdown and looming debt-limit debate.

They feared he might take the lead in the talks and make concessions to get past the current fiscal crisis.

So they’re admitting that he’s a lousy negotiator? The Russians and Iranians are taking notes.

“There’s some concern being expressed now that Obama is calling the leaders to the White House that this might be premature,” said Sen. Tom Harkin, a senior Democrat from Iowa. “What’s he going to say? What’s he going to do?

“I hope he just says, ‘Harry’s the leader. We’re following Sen. Reid,’” he added.

So, if this is true, didn’t the Democrats just admit that their dear leader Barack Obama is incompetent to do his job?

That wasn’t their intended message, of course.

Their intended message is that gosh darn it, Obama is just too nice.

Here’s why I don’t believe it’s the truth.

Barack Obama the lifelong Alinskyite is not about to hand over the largest agitation operation of his community organizer career to others. This is the moment his presidency is all about. Bigger than passing Obamacare by a mile. He believes that he is on the bring of making Obamacare permanent, while also cracking the Tea Party and breaking the back of GOP opposition to him going into the 2014 mid-terms. But this is about much more than Obamacare. Obama thinks that he is on the brink of a smashing victory that will end with him having unlimited power over spending, without any budget accountability, and unchecked power from any opposition in Congress. If he wins as he believes he will, no one will stop him from imposing any part of his agenda, not Republicans, not the states, not the courts. Would Napoleon outsource command of the Grande Armée on the eve of Austerlitz (or Waterloo)? Emperors don’t do that sort of thing.

Obama may well have handed the day-to-day wisecracking off to Reid, who would be performing that service for free anyway, but he has not handed off the high level strategy. His ego is too grand for that.

Additionally, the reality is that Reid does not control the National Park Service or any of the executive branch agencies that are prosecuting the shutdown. Obama controls those. He is not about to outsource that control. The National Park Service and the FAA and the rest have become his enforcers.

So why project the image that Obama has handed things off to Reid?

Well, the White House probably took an internal poll and it revealed that Obama is too personally connected to the squabble. He is probably taking on water for closing monuments to veterans and closing parks and all of that. His popularity may be getting mixed with Congress’ unpopularity, and he was already at about 43% before this fight got going. He now looks petty and spiteful and unpresidential. Publicly handing the dirty work to Reid is an attempt to distance Obama from all that, and an attempt to elevate himself above it all. It would allow him to be the hidden hand moving pieces around behind the scenes.