In recent weeks, Obama seems to have concluded that Republicans have come around, and that it is time to sit down and hash out a deal like reasonable people. He moved his position more than halfway toward Boehner’s. Democrats in Congress are, incredibly, discussing the option of compromising even more.
But reasonable compromise to avert the fiscal cliff is impossible. Republicans, as a whole, don’t even seem capable of linear thinking about the budget. They don’t know what they actually want on spending. They don’t understand why Obama wants more revenue or what role this would play in the broader fiscal picture. They don’t even seem capable of politically organizing in a way that maximizes their fanatic principles. The House Republican caucus is simply a teeming pit of revanchist anger.
Republicans are blaming the president for their own inability to function. They are too caught up in their own ideology to even understand what can and can’t be cut, which means they can’t negotiate from a place of realism. Chait concludes:
It’s true that a smarter, better organized Republican party would be easier to deal with. But the GOP remains dysfunctional and apparently bent on self-immolation. The only question for Obama is whether he wants to allow Republicans to turn this fact to their advantage, or whether he is willing to disengage and let them burn out on their own rage.