This is the picture that defines - or should define - the 2012 Presidential Election.
The question that these Republican candidates raised their hands to is this one:
Say you had a deal, a real spending cuts deal, 10 to one...spending cuts to tax increases…. [W]ho on this stage would walk away from that deal? Can you raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes, you'd walk away on the 10 to one deal?
Every Republican candidate is refusing to go even 10% of the distance towards a budget deal.
President Obama has already said that he will go 75% of the distance towards such a deal - accepting an option consisting of three parts spending cuts and one part revenue increases that would have closed the deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years.
The Republicans refused this – because 75% isn’t far enough. Apparently, according to this picture, 90% isn’t far enough – because the Republicans are not willing to cover the other 10%.
In fact, the Republican position has been to refuse to cover even 1% of the distance towards a compromise. They are ruling out any form of revenue increase as any part of final budget package. There will be no deal unless things are done 100% the Republican way.
And, of course, we are supposed to believe that this is all Obama’s fault.
This is why America lost its AAA credit rating with Standard and Poor’s.
Because in a country where one side us willing to go 75% of the way towards compromise, and the other refuses to go even 10% (refuses, as a matter of fact, to go even 1%) there is no compromise. There is no governance. There is no possibility of America getting its political house in order.
Honestly, I cannot look at this picture without a movie quote popping into my head.
There is only one Lord of the Ring, and he does not share power.
Because this is what these Republicans are telling us. "Do you want to end political gridlock in this country? Then give us absolute power. Because anywhere in which a Democrat has any voice, there we will put stop government dead in its tracks until that voice is silenced. A Democrat can hold office, sure - as long as he is an impotent figurehead. But do not even consider doing anything.
Whereas President Obama seems to be saying, "If you put Republicans in power anywhere, that is your choice. I will respect your decision and try to work with them, meeting them more than half way to make a deal.", the Republican answer is to scoff. "More than half way? Screw that. You are going all the way, brother, or you are not going anywhere at all."
As I have written recently, the vice of refusing to compromise is the vice of arrogance. Nobody is so smart that they can guarantee that they have all the right answers. Nobody is so gifted that they can afford to close their mind and say, "Your ideas are 100% irrelevant. We are going to do thus 100% my way or not at all."
When we figure out what we are going to do in the next election, let us make sure that we reward and punish the right people. There is a true villain in this story - at least this part of it. It is this people unwilling to go 25% of the distance towards a deal, willing to leave the county in political chaos unless things go 100% their way. Like a bunch of spoiled kids.