B. Jay Cooper is deputy managing director of the Washington, D.C., office of APCO Worldwide. He served as deputy press secretary to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, as director of communications at the Republican National Committee for four chairmen, and as director of public affairs at the Department of Commerce.
Used to be, there was a rhythm to things in Washington. A scandal. The removing of a Cabinet member who was messing up. A kabuki dance about who was going to be a candidate for something or other. A negotiation of a touchy issue on the Hill.
Most folks experienced in D.C. could tell you at the beginning of such situations, exactly how it would be resolved. The rhythms were that predictable.
Which brings us, figuratively, to the “fiscal cliff.” An election takes place. The incumbent wins. The House is controlled by the opposite party. The president dances. The Speaker dances. The voices in the choir make noises that they aren’t budging from their position. The president follows that lead perfectly. And, in the end, a deal is cut, the union is saved, and we move on to the next point of interest on the rhythm scale.
I hope that rhythm holds up this time. But I’m not as confident as I’ve been in the past of my “reading Washington” skills. This time, you have an opposition party in the House that may still believe their job is to make sure this president is not successful. And you have a White House that still behaves, arrogantly, that it, and only it, can be correct. I mean, they showed “Lincoln” at the White House not long ago. Was everyone so mesmerized by Daniel Day Lewis’ performance that they didn’t get the (not so subtle) message from the movie? In case they didn’t, and in case anyone reading this might talk to anyone in the White House, give them a hint about the message: Working together can work and it’s what we want!
I am not so confident that a deal will be reached before the cliff/slope, whatever you want to call it, is something we’re seeing in the rear-view mirror.
Let’s hope we get back our D.C. rhythm. If we don’t, here is a little something you can enjoy instead (satisfying, but not nearly as satisfying as a good budget deal would be).