As a communications strategy, Obama seems to be placing a lot of faith in the political media's ability to process complex positions on a wide array of issues. Right now, Republicans have a simple message: let's talk. Obama needs to have a simple message: reopen the government.Chait has a point, but he also misses the point. This is about much more than just reopening the government, but that doesn't mean that the larger message can't be easily explained.
Certainly, the Republican message is deceptively simple—as in both deceptive and simple—while the response from Democrats tends to be substantive, and substance tends to require more detailed thought.
But if the Republican message is simply that they want to talk, Democrats can just as simply refute it, because the Republicans clearly don't actually want to talk. If they did, they would talk. They wouldn't be shutting down the government and threatening to blow up the economy if all they wanted to do was talk. Their threats aren't about talking, they're about bypassing talking and skipping right ahead to getting what they want, without talking. This is not about talking, it's about attempted bullying. It's a tantrum.
The Democratic message has been clear, but it also has been elaborate and detailed. Which may confuse some. So, for the sake of simplicity, for the sake of sound bites, for the sake of the quick quips and small words with which the television media is most comfortable, and which even Republicans should be able to comprehend, here is the Democratic message: We're always willing to talk to reasonable people, but never in response to bullying or tantrums. Open the government, stop threatening a default, and stop the entire politics of extortion, and we can start talking. Until that happens, there is nothing else to talk about.
We're always willing to talk to reasonable people, but never in response to bullying or tantrums.