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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Football team analogy explains why D’s & R’s won’t ever get along

Much media hay was made a few months back when President Donald Trump had dinner with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi at the White House and the three emerged from the occasion beaming about a purported agreement to cooperate on extending Obama’s unconstitutional DACA program for illegal alien youth.

Border security and immigration enforcement-favoring conservatives howled in protest while the remaining Democrats and Republicansdesperate remnants of Republican #NeverTrumpers took a “See, I told you he’d break his promises!” approach to Trump’s supposedly improving outlook towards dealing with his heretofore less-than-loyal opposition.

Subsequent news reports revealed no “deal” was actually struck between the two parties that night and the president’s position remained pretty close to what it had been originally during the campaign, including his insistence on Congress providing money for a physical border wall. Attorney General Jeff Sessions then announced the gradual phase-out of DACA and simply gave elected lawmakers more time to come up with a solution -- if there was to be one.

Fast forward to last week when Schumer and Pelosi jointly announced they wouldn’t work with Trump on a potential budget deal going forward (the current budget agreement ends on December 8), basically claiming the president’s unsympathetic Twitter tone towards bipartisan talks was untenable to them and they’d have better luck hammering at the less-than-steely spines of the GOP congressional leadership to get what they wanted out of the negotiations. The Democrats aren’t dumb – they’ve dealt with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan for years and know by now neither has any willpower when it comes to holding a sane fiscal line.

Democrats also realize all they’ll have to do is float the “shutdown” word past congressional Republicans and the majority leadership will give them everything they ask for going into an election year. That’s what the swamp does best – feed itself.

The utter incompetence of the GOP leadership aside, now some in the media are asserting that Trump still hasn’t learned how to deal with Democrats. Nancy Cook wrote in Politico last week, “For all of President Donald Trump’s bragging about his negotiating skills, he has yet to cut any major deals with Democrats — including on his administration’s top priority, tax reform.

“Repeatedly, Trump has undercut his own efforts at bipartisanship on everything from an overhaul of the tax code to DACA to health care…

“[I]n this hyperpartisan environment, there is little incentive for Democratic lawmakers to help the White House pass any major legislative victory. And policywise, the Senate tax bill offers almost no catnip for them.”

Catnip? In terms of the tax bill, what exactly would catnip mean? What are the Democrats asking for? What would bring them over to supporting a Republican-derived tax cut/reform proposal?

To have a media member maintain that Trump hasn’t “learned” how to deal with Democrats and then back up her hypothesis with the fact few Democrats have voted for any of the major Republican bills is a completely false premise. By that measure Obama never “learned” to deal with Republicans either because those in the GOP with any principles and smarts didn’t vote for Obamacare or anything else on Obama’s top wish-list throughout his presidency.

Trump’s negotiation skills haven’t waned at all; he’s just never had to go up against opposition that has absolutely zero incentive to bargain and whose sole aim is to ensure that a “deal” falls through before the parties ever sit down at the table. Successful negotiations are made (“Getting to yes”) when all sides to the discussion feel like their top concerns have been addressed.

You simply can’t do this in politics; the parties are too antagonistic towards each other to begin with and many times the best move is not to come to an agreement. The Founding Fathers understood this.

Democrats’ only urgency is to see that Trump fails. What incentive is there for them to agree to vote for his proposals? For the so-called “red state” Democrat senators you would think they’d at least consider going along with conservative proposals in the best interests of their state’s constituents, but there’s no such thing as a “moderate” (much less “conservative”) Democrat any longer. These Democrats think the best way to keep their jobs is to make Schumer and Pelosi happy and therefore keep the party’s money spigot open and flowing to their re-election efforts.

It’s not Trump’s fault he can’t get the Democrats to go along with him. They whine and complain endlessly about his tweets and the way he handles the presidency. What alternatives are they offering? What would a Democrat version of tax reform look like?

But perhaps the deeper motivation for Democrats to persist in opposing Trump is they are truly terrified if the bill becomes law the economy will continue improving -- and if that happens Trump’s chances for winning a second term in 2020 go up exponentially. Voters with jobs and money in their pockets don’t vote for “change” and more government control.

Then there are those “conservatives” who wouldn’t necessarily give the credit to Trump either. Kevin D. Williamson wrote at National Review, “One of the great enduring stupidities of the American presidential cult is the belief, rooted in invincible ignorance, that the state of the U.S. economy at any given moment is a reflection of the intelligence and wisdom of the chief executive of the federal government and a result of the excellence or insufficiency of his administration. ‘Sure, Bill Clinton may have been an intern-diddling hillbilly and maybe even a violent rapist, but, man, my IRA kicked ass in the 1990s!’…

“The belief that GDP growth or this month’s jobs report provides a meaningful judgment on the performance of the president isn’t economics — it’s superstition. It is the modern version of the ancient belief that a crop failure means that the king has displeased the rain god or the wheat goddess. It is a primitive disposition from which we should liberate ourselves — and could, if we were willing to do the hard work of citizenship rather than take our ease in lazy partisanship.”

I agree with Williamson that presidents get too much credit/blame when things go well or if the economy tanks, but it’s not accurate to insinuate that no credit/blame is merited in either scenario.

Serving as president isn’t all that different from being a head football coach. While it’s true that a football coach doesn’t execute plays on the field in a game, he does call the formations and directs the players during practice. Changing coaches may not turn a perennial loser into an instant winner but the best coaches will perhaps equate to an extra win or two per season, games that would otherwise have been lost had the leadership not been in place to run the program.

It’s often a one or two game margin that’s the difference between those teams competing for the playoffs and a potential championship versus staying home and planning for next year. Why do you think there’s so much coaching turnover after every season?

And it goes without saying that holding the players’ confidence and respect is essential to any winning operation. The common grunt in the trenches must understand before every down that he’s been placed (through careful research, film study, strategy and planning) in the best position to succeed on a particular play – as long as he does his job correctly.

In other words, as little as possible has been left to chance. Despite appearances football may be the least “random” team sport there is. Every player should know what to do on every play.

It can be argued that having superior personnel (good football players) is the key element to victory, but there are far too many historical examples to refute this notion. The best team on paper doesn’t always end up the Super Bowl champion; that could be a coaching issue right there.

Of course the federal government isn’t the NFL and the president’s duties in steering the economy aren’t as well-defined as a head football coach’s on a field, yet the other parts of the analogy work. The president, together with Congress, sets the economic policy outline (the “game plan”) for the country. He then chooses his department leaders (personnel packages) and provides individual direction (calls the plays) for the public servants (players) to perform their positions.

Does it all end up like clockwork? Hardly. There are few visible and measurable gains and losses and the “penalties” (lawsuits, lack of accountability?) are hidden from view, but it’s not hard to determine (through polls) whether citizens are confident in an administration’s leadership to get the job done.

The economy is doing well now because Americans believe in Trump’s ability to handle it. Numerous surveys have shown that although the people may have issues with Trump’s personality and his various habits, they still believe in what he’s doing with the economic x’s and o’s. Tax cuts/reform would no doubt be popular if they’re “marketed” in the correct manner. And a booming economy would be the best selling point yet for enticing Americans to buy a “season-ticket package” for Trump’s second term.

The Democrats won’t help him. They’re on the other team and want just as badly to “win” the game for themselves and their owners (cronies). To expect otherwise is naïve…or flat-out stupid. A football team can’t get the ball back without a defensive stand or a turnover – is a political party so different? You can’t win without the ball.

Democrats seem to believe a government shutdown is their “trick play” to succeed, though they’re taking a huge risk in doing so. Rachel Bade, John Bresnahan and Sarah Ferris of Politico reported, “President Donald Trump and congressional GOP leaders are daring Democrats to shut down the government over immigration rather than back a plan to extend funding into January.

“After Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer boycotted a Tuesday afternoon White House negotiating session on government funding, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell began hashing out a plan to pass a short-term spending bill to fund the government into January. The measure would not include a fix for so-called Dreamers, something Democrats have demanded be part of any spending bill.”

Every other time in recent memory it’s been the Republicans dealing with a Democrat president who were blamed for shutting down the government. Now that the shoe’s on the other foot, how will the Democrats react? Will they agree to a shutdown over their precious DACA program?

It’s nice to see GOP congressional leaders willing to play a little hardball with the budget. No doubt having President Trump acting as the “coach” is giving them some additional confidence. No one but the media expects the parties to get along; whoever wins will be the best “team.”

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