According to the Washington Post, Harry Reid is again 'negotiating' with Senate Republicans about ways to end the nightmare on Baghdad Street often referred to as 'the war in Iraq' (i.e., it's not a 'war'--it's a burned-out military occupation). What's up for negotiation this time? You guessed it: Bush wants $50 billion more for Iraq. Apparently, Republicans are willing to sit down and talk about legislation to get out of Iraq, with just a few conditions: they refuse to use the words 'deadline' or 'timetable' or 'withdrawal.' In other words, the Republicans are happy to negotiation with Democrats about ending the war on Iraq, but refuse to allow any of the words Americans use to talk about ending a war.
Now, I ask myself: would I sit down at the negotiating table if the opposition put forward that kind of condition as their opening position? Let me think...
'Bad Faith' Republicans
I would have to be an idiot to think I was 'negotiating' if the opposition refused to use words that allow us to actually talk about the subject at hand. I would not sit down given that condition because it would not be a negotiation if I did. It would be a bad faith manipulation. To sit down would be to concede first, negotiate later. And if you concede firsts, there is no need to negotiation. So I would walk away. And Dems should, too.
But just to make this point clear enough, I've assembled a list of some common, everyday negotiations to see what they would look like if they were rigged from the start they same way as the Senate negotiations on Iraq.
Read the following situations and decide whether you would sit down at the table or walk away (***answer key included below).
Sit Down or Walk Away?
1. You want to buy a house and call the seller to negotiate the price. The seller says, "I'd be happy to talk with you on the condition that we do not discuss the house or the price." Should you sit down or walk away?
2. You want to ask your girlfriend's father for her hand in marriage. Her father says, "I'd be happy to talk with you on the condition that we do not discussion marriage or my daughter." Should you sit down or walk away?
3. You want to buy a car from dealer and you want to get the best deal possible. The dealer says, "I'd be happy to talk to you a deal on the condition that we do not use the word car, price or delivery." Should you sit down or walk away?
4. You want a cab driver to take you to the airport, but you do not want to pay too much. The driver says, "I'd be happy to talk to you about the fare on the condition that we do not talk about money or meters or fees." Should you sit down or walk away?
5. You want to order a sandwich in a restaurant, but you want to build your own rather than order one as listed on the menu. The waiter says, "I'd be happy to take your sandwich order on the condition that you do not talk about bread, meat, cheese, vegetables, condiments or plates." Should you sit down or walk away?
6. You want to go to the dentist, but you want to make sure you get an appointment that does not conflict with your work schedule. The receptionist says, "I'd be happy to talk to you about an appointment on the condition that we do not talk about days of the week or times." Should you sit down or walk away?
7. You want the plumber to come out and fix your leaking toilet, but need him to come right away and not charge too much money. The plumber says,"I'd be happy to talk to you about fixing your leak on the condition that we do not talk about when I will come to your house, how long it will take to do the job, and how much it will cost." Should you sit down or walk away?
8. You want a loan from a bank for $50,000 to start a new business in a month. The banker says, "I'd be happy to talk to you about a loan on the condition that we not talk about business, money, interest rates, penalties, commissions, loan amounts, or dispersal dates." Should you sit down or walk away?
9. You want to buy 4 boxes of cookies from the Girl Scout standing at your front door, but you want to know what kinds of cookies are left and how much they cost. The Girl Scout says, "I'd be happy to talk to you about your order on the condition that we do not talk about cookies or prices." Should you sit down or walk away?
10. You are the Democratic majority leader in the Senate and you want to craft legislation that will end the U.S. occupation of Iraq and bring American forces home. Your Republican counterpart says, "I'd be happy to talk about ending the occupation in Iraq and bringing our soldiers home on the condition that we do not talk about withdrawal, deadlines or time lines." Should you sit down or walk away?
Some of these might be tough choices, so here is an answer key:
1. walk away
2. walk away
3. walk away
4. walk away
5. walk away
6. walk away
7. walk away
8. walk away
9. walk away
10. walk away (duh)
What do all of these potential 'negotiations' have in common? They are not really negotiations! They are all bad faith situations because the opposition has set conditions that make it impossible for the negotiation to go forward: they have refused to allow discussion of the very thing up for discussion.
In this situation--when the opposition has refused to allow discussion of what you need to negotiation--the choice is to site down and concede or to walk away and accept your best alternative to a negotiated solution.
On the so-called negotiations between Harry Reid and the Senate Republicans, Reid should not only refuse to sit down until Republicans take all ludicrous pre-conditions off the table, but also tell the media and the country that he is 'walking away' until the Republicans stop rigging a 'bad faith' negotiation.
'We are walking away.'
'The Republicans are showing bad faith.'
The conversation should not even begin about giving Bush $50,000,000,000 more for Iraq until the Senate Republicans first remove all conditions for their negotiating on Iraq.
Every Democrat should walk away--every single one--until every single Senate Republican is willing to use every word in the English language in a discussion about finding the best way to get out of Iraq.
One Senate Republican gives a press conference condemning 'time tables' or 'deadlines'--walk away.
The President, his inner circle and the loyal media pundits who echo mindlessly whatever Cheney tells them to say--they can blather on all they want. But the Senate Republicans must stand down from any pre-conditions on talking about withdrawal or they negotiation is off.
And when the Dems walk away from table, what should they be walking to--what is the alternative to sitting down with bad faith Republicans?
The alternative is to walk away from the table and right into the living rooms of the American public who voted for the Democrats in 2006 so that the occupation in Iraq would be brought to an end by the new Congressional majority.
The alternative is to talk to the media instead of talking to the Republicans. This is a holiday weekend, so Americans will be watching lots of television and listening to lots of radio. Democrats should go on the air all weekend and tell the American people that the Republicans are talking in bad faith--that the Republicans are refusing to stand up to President Bush and Vice President Cheney and begin the process of getting out of Iraq.
For Senate Dems to do anything less is to concede defeat before the negotiations even begin.
(cross posted from Frameshop)