Friday, August 5, 2011

Fire in the eyes

When a team wins a big game in a rout against a hated rival, it's usually wise to proceed with humility rather than overbearing bombast.

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz always went out of his way to compliment the opposing team, no matter how large the victory or how badly the losing team was overmatched. He did not want to give them a reason to play with fire in their eyes next time.

Somebody ought to explain the Lou Holtz plan to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner. On Wednesday, the smirking speaker could hardly contain himself when he announced to the whole world that in the debt-limit negotiations, he got 98 percent of what he wanted.

If this were football, that clip would be played every morning before President Barack Obama headed out to face the day.

Throughout the negotiations, the president consistently announced his willingness to compromise in order to avoid default by the United States. In fact, the Republicans counted on it.

In any negotiation, if one party is determined to achieve an outcome through compromise and the other isn't, the latter will get his or her way. Anyone who doesn't think that tactic works should check the Boehner smile. Those looking for compromise got 2 percent and those saying they wouldn't budge got 98 percent.

Maybe the President and his staff have some secret plan they think they are pulling off with the results of their compromise deal. We don't see it. Clearly, Boehner saw capitulation, not compromise. And on Wednesday, in a remarkable display of hubris, he rubbed the president's face in it.

And now we wait for the next game to see who plays with fire in his eyes.

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