The Hostage Taker Playbook Shouldn't Work With Sequester

Yesterday Ace posted a bit of this Red Altert Politics post at his site. The gist of it is that Obama only seems to have one playbook. He claims the current crisis was “manufactured” by Republicans and then blames them for not averting it by conceding everything he demands. The pithy, political metaphor that attaches itself to this well-worn move is “hostage takers.” Obama didn’t use this language himself but his surrogates did, leaving him free to step into the role of hostage crisis negotiator. That has been his play for nearly 2 years now.

Personally, I really dislike this language. It’s irresponsible not to mention extremely hypocritical coming from a party that demands Republicans tone down their rhetoric lest crazy people get the wrong idea. But I guess the strategy made sense politically in 2011 when the argument that Republicans had “manufactured the crisis” was at least plausible (if you avert your eyes from the mounting debt).

But Obama’s playbook is not, or at least should not, be working this time because the sequester is a crisis that was manufactured by both parties. Indeed, the President praised it as “a tough enforcement mechanism” at the time. And yes, it matters that the President’s team proposed it first, as Bob Woodward and Sen. Baucus have both pointed out:

Having the President run around the country demanding the GOP stop using a manufactured crisis against him is, frankly, presuming that people are idiots. Many of those tuning in may be ill-informed, but that’s all the more reason that the President’s role in sequester should be front and center. There’s really no excuse for letting Obama run the “hostage takers” playbook this time around.