If you want to know why I'm so tired of the kabuki going on in Washington right now, a helpful anonymous commenter on the blog explains the reasons quite nicely:
Looks like the right wing extremists in the Republican party continue to distill their "truth" serum down into more and more bitter and unpalatable bile. Soon enough only the most stomach hardened insanity-forged Republic-con will be able to swallow the vile syrup of their fantasy lunatic winner-take-all society. Poor Boehner has to sell this putrid brew to an ever more skeptical country, even after the nation said to him, "No thanks. We've tried your snake oil and it made us hurl." If Boehner's party chooses to send their unpopular stale ideas to the WH, then I say, fine, go over the cliff, then we'll see who the American people thinks caused their payroll taxes to go up Jan. 2. I'll bet dollars to donuts it'll be the Rs.
This is pretty much perfect -- ad hominem from start to finish, with a thesaurus worth of negative words in one paragraph. Count 'em up:
bitter and unpalatable bile
fantasy lunatic winner-take-all society
I give the commenter credit, though -- not once did he/she/it compare Boehner to Adolf Hitler. That's progress.
And herein lies the problem the Republicans face. Our adjective-laden commenter is hardly the only person who views the world in these terms, and the White House knows this, because they've cultivated this narrative for a very long time now. Obama won the election because he got slightly more than 50% of the electorate to believe things of this sort about Republicans. And as long as significant portions of the American electorate feel this way, even in part, Republicans aren't going to win the debate. This is not a rational argument.
My guess is that, in the end, the Republicans are going to end up finding a way to vote "present" and let Obama and his team do what they do. The fiscal cliff is nothing compared to the pain that's coming unless we fix the structural problems that loom. At this point, the president and his party aren't especially interested in having that discussion and as long as they control the terms of the debate, we won't have that discussion. Better to let 'em monologue.
Cross-posted and comments welcome at Mr. Dilettante's Neighborhood