Senior White House Adviser Dan Pfeiffer compared House Republicans to suicide bombers, kidnappers and arsonists in an interview with CNN. Pfeiffer, the former White House communications director who was promoted to the senior spot after the 2012 election, explained President Obama’s unwillingness to compromise on his call for an unconditional increase in the federal debt limit: “What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest.” He also called Republican counterproposals “ransom demands” adding, “It’s not a negotiation if I show up at your house and say, ‘Give me everything inside or I’m going to burn it down.’”
Overreach – No prominent Republican has advocated default on federal debts, with even the most aggressive conservatives proposing only a partial shutdown in the event of a debt-ceiling impasse. Similarly, even Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has said that a shutdown over the current spending fight was undesirable but a necessary risk to try to force the president to the negotiating table over his 2010 health law. The president, meanwhile, has declared his health law and his debt bump demand off the table for negotiations.
Obama’s hot words – During a Thursday speech attacking Republicans for their opposition to ObamaCare, President Obama focused part of his furor against a New Hampshire state lawmaker who said the law was as destructive to individual liberty as the Fugitive Slave Act, mischaracterizing the Republican’s position for his largely black audience in Prince George’s County, Md. thusly: “Affordable health care is wose than a law that lets slave owners get their runaway slaves back.”
The takeaway – The White House had a marvelous press narrative going with exhaustive coverage across the board of Republican infighting over which tactics to employ to block all or part of Obama’s health law. Why, then, would the president and his top adviser for communications try so hard to get into the firefight? Surely not a fear that Cruz was not getting enough air time or attention. Is it what Democrats are whispering about: A weak second-term White House team? Or has Obama lost his cool completely?