Washington needed a new buzzword for a political lie. Demands for immigration reform finally clued everyone in that “bipartisan” was a clever misnomer meaning only a handful of Republicans agree with a bad idea endorsed by Democrats. Now the shutdown and another debt ceiling faceoff have brought us “negotiate.” Both parties and the White House claim they want to do it, but they have changed the definition so negotiate no longer means agreement or compromise. Now it means stonewalling, gridlock, and the refusal to do anything except inflame a conflict for the media.
One of the best things about Washington turning negotiate into a political lie is that since the word no longer has anything to do with its real meaning it can be used in many different ways. For example:
Negotiate means submission with no agreement.
Who said negotiate has anything to do with compromise? Sometimes it means demanding the other side give up. The president has a history of promising spending cuts if Republicans will submit on hot buttons like raising the debt ceiling, but Mr. Obama also has a habit of telling on himself. First, he says something like this to make it sound like he is amenable to working out a deal:
I heard a lot of talk over the weekend that the real problem is, is that the President will not negotiate. Well, let me tell you something — I have said from the start of the year that I’m happy to talk to Republicans about anything related to the budget.¹
Then comes the real story:
We’re not going to negotiate under the threat of further harm to our economy and middle-class families.²
You know what that means. The whole gaudy tax and spend package he has been pushing from day one is still lurking in the background.
Negotiate can mean agreeing to do the opposite of what you say.
When the president tries to get Republicans to give in to something like a debt ceiling increase by dangling the hope of cutting spending, spending cuts are not what he is offering to give away. He is giving away a tax hike. Any good Democrat knows that you can only cut spending if you raise taxes so you can spend even more. If you are a conservative don’t try to puzzle this one out. It will never make any sense.
Agreeing to do nothing is another meaning of negotiate.
This one is a bipartisan crowd pleaser because both parties feel most comfortable giving us the illusion of progress while doing nothing. Remember the Super Committee (see: Congress Hatches a Government Scam With Its Fiscal Cliff)? When you hear things like “historic compromise” and “short-term solution” you know agreement has been reached to stall until the crisis is resurrected later, at which time another agreement will be reached to do nothing all over again. When the current debt ceiling debacle ends this is the type of phony negotiation you are going to hear about, the kind where both sides agree to inertia.
The oldest political lie of all: looking out for taxpayers.
When the Democratic leadership holds press conferences about a deal being made in the best interests of middle class taxpayers we know someone is about to get screwed. Obama’s Washington does not look out for taxpayers. If one of the president’s flunkies or the man himself tells you they are protecting the middle class, they are telling the oldest political lie of all.