As the government shutdown continues, and President Obama maintains his pledge not to negotiate with Republicans “with a gun to the American people’s head,” the mainstream media continues to really, really want such a negotiation. At Friday’s White House daily briefing, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl tried to coax Press Secretary Jay Carney into even a meaningless negotiation, just for kicks, and even posited President Obama as John F. Kennedy to John Boehner‘s Nikita Khrushchev.
Karl began by attempting to throw some of the onus for the shutdown onto the President, characterizing the President’s call for Republicans to pass a CR at their preferred spending level as the administration attempting to “sit back and wait for them to simply do exactly what you’ve asked for?”
“We do not constitutionally,” Carney explained, “the President of the United States does not constitutionally have the power to pass a CR.”
“Well, you have the power to negotiate with them and agree to some tweaks here and there,” Karl said. “You do have that power, don’t you?”
“The door is open,” Carney said. “We are willing to negotiate. The president has been willing to negotiate all year long…”
“You said you’re not going to negotiate,” Karl interrupted.
“The president has been willing to negotiate, as he just said in a sandwich shop, with Republicans, buy not when they’re threatening to keep the government shut down and to default on our obligations,” Carney explained, “and in return for doing the responsible thing, the President is asking nothing.”
“He’s asking for nothing from the Republican,” Carney continued. “So if their position, which is at you’re enunciating, is that it is concession, by Republicans to the American people, to open the government and to send hundreds of thousands of people back to work, they ought to say so. If it is a concession by Republicans to not default, they ought to make that clear to the American people. I think that would be an astounding thing to say.”
Undaunted, Karl took one more shot at brokering a negotiation. “The Speaker is saying that he wants some commitment on deficit reduction in exchange for raising the debt ceiling,” he said. “I understand you’re opposed to any kind of negotiations on that, but could we have a situation in the Cuban Missile crisis ended with a secret deal to move missiles out of Turkey six months after the Russians pulled the nukes out of Cuba? Could you have some agreement that you’ll act on…”
“You’re saying John Boehner is Khrushchev?” Carney asked.
With a laugh, Karl replied “I don’t know who is Khrushchev, and who is Kennedy.”
“I’m pretty sure who the President is,” Carney said, to laughter from reporters.
“But I mean is there something — they want something,” Karl said, even conceding that “there have been a lot of unreasonable demands made.”
“We’ve made none!” Carney pointed out.
“But Boehner’s put forth a proposition here raising the debt ceiling, there should be some further commitment to deficit reduction,” Karl offered.
Carney reiterated that the President remains willing to negotiate, once these crises are settled. “Don’t threaten to tank the American economy to get what you want,” Carney said, “and some of them, including one Republican who said it on the record, don’t even know what they want. They just say they got to have something from this. We got to extract something out of this, I’m not even sure what it is, said one Republican, by name, on the record. Really? That’s just wrong.”
Here’s the clip, from C-SPAN 3:
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