Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Everywhere and Nowhere

Saying nothing is one of the best negotiating techniques there is. I don't mean not talking at all, I mean not responding to the point or demand made. It is amazing how often that leads to a concession on the point or a reduction in the demand.

President Obama seems to be everywhere these days. He read to second grade kids yesterday morning. He was on CNN and Fox and some other outlet last night. He's throwing Super Bowl parties and hosting happy hours.

He never says the Republicans are crazy or that his fellow Democrats are over-reaching on the bailout/stimulus/recovery/economic progress bill. The result? The Dems are reaching a bit less than they were last week and the Goppers are actually talking substantively rather than trying to set up the Dems for a fall.

I was going to type "the problem with this approach" and then couldn't figure out if there is a problem .

Back during the campaign, I recall reports of Obama not taking sides but rather building consensus when he was the president of the Harvard Law Review, voting "present" in the Illinois Legislature and not being a mover or shaker in the U.S. Senate.

He seems to be taking the same sort of approach as President. "You boys and girls get together and work this out. We're dealing with important stuff and we have to do it quickly. What do I think? I think it is important and is best dealt with quickly. I'm confident that at the end of the day we will have a program that we and the American People are proud of."

It occurs to me that he is acting just like a mediator in a legal dispute, gathering the opposing parties, encouraging and cajoling them to come to a resolution, every now and then poking their positions at the edges - "Isn't that condom thing a non-starter? Come on, give it up. I believe in free enterprise as much as the next guy; but jeez, shouldn't there be some reasonable limit to executive pay?"

Is this the role of the President? Johnson was a master at backroom jawboning and arm-twisting. Reagan and Tip O'Neill settled a lot of issues over a bottle after the sun had set and the reporters were tucked in bed. Clinton was a bottom line guy. They got a lot of results. Not all good results as we've found out, but results nonetheless.

Mediator in Chief?

2 comments:

DaleC said...

Like Reagan said, "Don't just do something, stand there", except he had no problem calling a dog a dog.

I think this is similar to Clinton's Triangulation Strategy.

Dave said...

I had to research triangulation. Interesting.