Obama and Boehner Explain One Another’s Shutdown Positions

In very similar terms.

National Journal
Brian Resnick
Oct. 8, 2013, 1:30 p.m.

At du­el­ing press con­fer­ences Tues­day, the speak­er of the House and the pres­id­ent of the United States said a lot of sim­il­ar things. Both said they were open to ne­go­ti­ation. Both blamed the oth­er side for the cur­rent shut­down and debt-ceil­ing crisis. Both agreed that the debt ceil­ing should be raised. The key dis­tinc­tion was this: John Boehner was the one who made the point that the debt ceil­ing is fair game to use in ne­go­ti­ations, and Pres­id­ent Obama was the one who said the debt ceil­ing has been taken host­age.

And in both press con­fer­ences, the speak­er and the pres­id­ent char­ac­ter­ized the oth­er’s po­s­i­tion in a sim­il­ar man­ner.

Boehner said of Obama: “So the pres­id­ent’s po­s­i­tion that, listen, we’re not go­ing to sit down and talk to you un­til you sur­render is just not sus­tain­able. It’s not our sys­tem of gov­ern­ment.”

The pres­id­ent said of the Re­pub­lic­ans: 

I mean, think about it, the only reas­on that the Re­pub­lic­ans have held out on ne­go­ti­ations up un­til last week or so, is be­cause they thought it was a big enough deal they would force uni­lat­er­al con­ces­sions out of Demo­crats and out of me. They said so. They ba­sic­ally said, you know what, the pres­id­ent is so re­spons­ible that if we just hold our breath and say we’re go­ing to threaten de­fault, then he’ll give us what we want and we won’t have to give any­thing in re­turn. Again, that’s not my ac­count of the situ­ation.

Though they said it in dif­fer­ent ways, each was ac­cus­ing the oth­er of wait­ing for a sur­render mo­ment. Yes, we can dis­cuss the equi­val­ence of each party’s point of view. But, rhet­or­ic­ally, this is the defin­i­tion of a stale­mate.

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