On compromise …

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” this morning. As usual, he was well-equipped to rhetorically push back against liberal premises.

One of the skirmishes he became embroiled in was over whether or not to pass a two-month extension on payroll tax cuts. (Democrats support this, while Republicans argue it’s merely a short-term Keynesian stimulus that won’t create jobs or spur the economy.)

In any event, what interested me most about the discussion wasn’t the nuances over the specific policy details, but rather, the larger debate over compromise. “Your definition recently of compromise is: Everybody agrees with what the president wants, so we can compromise. That’s not what compromise is,” Christie scolded co-host Mika Brzezinski.

Brzezinski, however, argued that Democrats have compromised, saying: “You know the Democrats gave up the millionaire surtax on the pipeline itself…”

That, of course, isn’t how compromise works. According to this paradigm, the side that asks for more changes, always wins. Following that logic, Republicans could simply say they want to cut tax rates to zero — and to pass the pipeline. (They could then humbly declare: “But we’re willing to compromise on the tax cut thing.”)

In what has become part of the tea party canon, H.L. Richardson explained the tactic in his book, “Confrontational Politics.” As Richardson noted: “This is not how the Leftists ‘compromise.’ They will ask for 100 percent, then give in a little on their outlandish demands when opposition becomes formidable. They may call it compromise but what are they giving up?  Absolutely nothing!”

Matt K. Lewis