The PJ Tatler

No Deal, Again

After another White House meeting that started with positive portents (if you want some sort of a deal), we’re back to not having a deal on the debt ceiling or on the shutdown.


President Obama on Thursday rejected a proposal from politically besieged House Republican leaders to extend the nation’s borrowing authority for six weeks because it would not also reopen the government. Yet both parties saw it as the first break in Republicans’ brinkmanship and a step toward a fiscal truce.

Twenty Republicans, led by Speaker John A. Boehner, went to the White House at Mr. Obama’s invitation after a day of fine-tuning their offer to increase the Treasury Department’s authority to borrow money to pay existing obligations through Nov. 22. In exchange, they sought the president’s commitment to negotiate a deal for long-term deficit reduction and a tax overhaul

It’s tempting to think that someone slipped this NBC/WSJ poll to Obama as the meeting commenced. He had been taking it on the chin for the National Park Service’s shutdown porn antics. His approval rating had slipped to just 37%!

Or not.

The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC survey finds just 24% of Americans hold a positive opinion of Republicans–a record low for the modern party. Meanwhile, Barack Obama’s approval rating has bumped up slightly in the last month to 47%. Even worse for Republicans, Obama’s signature health care law –which triggered the shutdown in the first place–is now liked by a higher percentage of Americans than at any point this year.

Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster Bill McInturff ran the survey. Here’s a breakdown of the findings and what they mean:

Republicans hemorrhaging support

The damage to the Republican brand from the shutdown is immediate and severe. Just 24% of Americans have a positive opinion of the Republican party in Thursday’s WSJ/NBC poll versus 53% who have a negative opinion, a 13 point swing since September. That’s even worse than the 28% favorable rating Gallup recorded on Wednesday, and like Gallup’s showing, it’s a new record for the pollster. Even fewer respondents–21%–have a positive view of the Tea Party, another new low.

In case there was any mystery what’s driving the numbers: Americans blame the GOP for the shutdown over President Obama by a 53-31 margin. Of those polled, 70% say Republicans are putting politics ahead of their country, versus just 27% who say they’re showing strong leadership in standing up for their beliefs.

Democrats, Obamacare gaining support

The silver lining Republicans spotted in some pre-shutdown polls was that Americans seemed poised to take their anger out on both parties, or the more generic “Washington.”

Nope. President Obama’s approval rating is up slightly in the WSJ/NBC poll to 47-48 versus 45-50 last month. Democrats now lead Republicans on a generic Congressional ballot 47-39, a five point bump in the same period.


Look, it’s one poll, and it comes from the same network that turned George Zimmerman into the World’s Most Notorious Racist, and the same paper that routinely smears opponents of “comprehensive immigration reform” as racists. It’s fair to question the poll and its timing.

If you’re of a mind that the president wants this shutdown, and has engineered this shutdown, to achieve the goal of killing the GOP ahead of the mid-terms to win himself total power for his last two years in office, that poll suggests strongly that he is winning. It also suggests that he feels no pressure now to make any deal at all, other than one that grants him the equivalent of full and unconditional surrender. It puts megatons of pressure on the Republicans to find some way out of the current fight so they can regroup and start another fight on more favorable ground. Ahead of today’s meeting, Obama’s position was that he would only negotiate once he’d gotten what he wanted. That position doesn’t seem to have changed after the meeting. Obama “didn’t say yes, and didn’t say no” to GOP proposals to end the standoff. He may be just letting them twist to see if another poll confirms the NBC/WSJ. If that doesn’t happen he’ll be back at the table to not negotiate while he actually caves; if that doesn’t happen, well, let’s all hold hands and sing while the default deadline comes and goes.


The dynamics of all this are disturbing for the long-term health of the nation. All the dust from this exasperating cycle of name-calling obscures a hard truth: Obama and the Democrats were elected by their voters to do certain things, and Ted Cruz, Mike Lee et all were elected by their voters to do the exact opposite things. I stand on the Cruz side of things. Obamacare is a job-killing menace, but beyond that, it forces the blue state worldview down the throats of us red-staters who voted Cruz in to stop him. We repeatedly vote against that world view where I live. But that doesn’t seem to mean a whole lot. Democrats live to impose themselves on others, all in the name of fairness! and justice! and brotherly love! and all that crap they don’t really believe in. If they did, they would just leave people who disagree with them alone, rather than aiming the IRS and the NPS et al at us to force us to do what they want.

Everything about the president’s law, which Obama’s voters support, is anathema to me and everything I believe about the government’s role and the citizen’s relationship to the state. Obama’s re-election is being used to justify shoving this law down our throats and holding it there. But Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts only happened because even the people in that liberal state were skeptical of Obamacare and wanted to provide the necessary vote to stop it. The Democrats ended up passing it in the shadiest of ways, but you’ll never get any Democrat apologist to acknowledge that or any of the other negative facts about it. SCOTUS only upheld it by twisting the letters that form the law.


I don’t have a solution for any of this. It’s just where we are. The president forced a horrible and obviously divisive law onto the books and is shutting the government down — and using the government to punish people — to keep it there. He is playing true to character, but continues to escape judgement for his extreme and lawless actions. The American people, if that poll is accurate, appear poised to punish the Republicans for fighting for principle to remove that law — even though a majority oppose that law. If you can make sense of that, you’re a better political analyst than I am.

Update: The poll’s sample is questionable, to say the least.

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