The buzzworthy segment from last night's Hannity was Anthony Weiner's weird appearance, but a separate exchange might have been more telling and relevant to current events. Former Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt -- regular readers may recall his slipperiness -- simply would not answer any direct questions from host Sean Hannity. LaBolt had a single administration-approved message, and he repeated it ad nauseam, eventually provoking an exasperated Hannity to implore him to "focus his attention" and actually address a specific inquiry. No sale. As a talking points robot, LaBolt is far better programmed that Obamacare's exchange websites:
Yes, Ben, it's true that re-opening the federal segments that are currently closed down (roughly 17 percent of the whole leviathan) would address all of these issues. What LaBolt wouldn't answer is why Senate Democrats and the president refuse to exercise their discretion to adopt targeted, House-passed bills to ameliorate some of the least-desirable effects of shutdown. The administration obviously has no problem flexing its muscle to make things more painful for folks; why won't they agree to bite-sized efforts to alleviate the damage -- which, by the way, the overwhelming majority of Americans aren't experiencing? The reason LaBolt can't respond to that challenge truthfully is because the answer is exceedingly unflattering to his former boss. The president admitted in his press conference that he needs the anguish to continue in order to exert maximum political leverage over his opponents. Without that "heat" and "pressure," Obama explained, Republicans would be less likely to bend to his will. In other words, he's rejecting the House's common-sense funding bills for the purposes of "hostage-taking" -- based on his own definition of the term. As of this afternoon, the president has apparently agreed to sign a short-term "clean" debt ceiling increase that could open a window for serious negotiations over resolving both the shutdown and borrowing limit man-made crises. But will Democrats actually agree to any sort of compromise, and will the negotiations be genuine? Obama's been stiff-arming meaningful talks for weeks:
On the other side of the aisle, will Republicans' temporary internal ceasefire collapse once a possible deal takes shape? Many House conservatives reportedly aren't enamored with Boehner's short term debt limit play, and are digging in for a "big win" on the budget that is unlikely to materialize. If some hybrid between Susan Collins' CR plan and Paul Ryan's "grand bargain" on debt could emerge with strong GOP backing, the party might get somewhere at the negotiating table. But as long as rank-and-file members cling to wildly disparate expectations, another nasty and self-destructive Republican fissure seems inevitable. Which explains why Democrats -- despite some defections and dissension -- are generally content to sit back and watch the Right eat itself alive:
I'll leave you with a reminder: Because of Democrats' mule-headed devotion to Obamacare, the entirely practical and necessary GOP solution of an Obamacare delay won't see the light of day. Seven percent of Americans think the law is working well, yet Beltway Democrats are married to that failure and won't budge on it. Who's the unreasonable party here?