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December 14, 2012

Operation humiliation

Back during the 2008 Democratic primaries, Rush Limbaugh launched Operation Chaos. Four years later, President Barack Obama has embarked on Operation Humiliation.

It's coming off without a hitch.

Stage One was to dispatch his treasury secretary to Capitol Hill to make a laughable offer to Republicans on the fiscal cliff - literally. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reported that he burst out laughing upon hearing Tim Geithner spell out the White House's terms.

Stage Two is watching Republicans squirm and panic. Less than a week after the hilarity courtesy of Geithner, The New York Times headlined a front-page piece, "GOP Looks for Fallback to Avoid a Fiscal Standoff."

The grand budget deal that all the talking heads say we need to prove that Washington is still functional, to vindicate the memory of Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill, etc., etc., is almost certainly not going to come off.

For a deal to happen, one of two things must be true: The White House must either want a deal, or feel that it needs a deal. You don't have to be a hostage negotiator or a game theorist to understand that neither is the case.

Does the White House need a deal? It considers its position so strong that it probably thinks it did McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner a favor by having Geithner show up to insult them in person. He could have done it by text message.

Obama just won an election in which pretty much his only concrete agenda item was a tax increase on the rich, although the casual listener might have thought he was only talking about taxing millionaires and billionaires. Tax increases on the rich poll well, while the Republican counterdemands - entitlement cuts - don't.

If nothing happens, tax increases go up for everyone, and all the polls show that the public is primed to blame the Republicans. That means that the president and the media will be plowing fertile ground when they paint Boehner and company as hideous extremists who hate the middle class if all rates go up at the end of the year.

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