President Obama has been holding forth on the debt ceiling and the government shutdown for over an hour now, and you can’t fault him for his ability to stay on message. He’s been clearer than usual, and less stuttery than usual, and he’s repeated his basic position over and over and over: I’ll negotiate about anything, but not as ransom to prevent economic chaos. Democrats have asked Republicans for budget meetings 19 times over the past six months, and they’ve refused because they wanted to wait until they could use threats to get what they wanted. That’s unacceptable. Unilateral threats to burn down the country are unacceptable. But take the threats off the table, and then we can talk.
Will it work? I don’t know. I’ll leave the detailed commentary to others. But I did like it when Obama told one reporter (I forget which one) “You know they’ve been planning to use threats to get their way for months. You’ve been reporting on it.” It’s true. Reporters know perfectly well how this all happened. It’s not as if Republicans have made any secret of their plans, after all.