Sunday, July 03, 2011

Historic Blink Time

At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, just before the Soviets caved in, someone in the Oval Office exclaimed, “We’re eyeball to eyeball, and the other guy just blinked!”

Now, as a deadline nears in the debt-ceiling staredown, Bill Clinton evokes that JFK era image and warns “the White House could blink. I hope that won't happen. I don't think they should blink."

The former President, who survived a Newt Gingrich government shutdown and won reelection, is advising Barack Obama not to back down to Boehner and McConnell, even though the price of standing firm could be high.

"You have to assume,” Clinton says, “that our credit rating will be downgraded and our interest rates will go up which will make the deficit problem worse and make it much more difficult to recover because it will be harder for people to get credit, even harder than it is now."

In his Weekly Address, the President is not wavering, noting that “It would be nice if we could keep every tax break, but we can’t afford them.”

Almost half a century ago, when Kennedy stood fast in their nuclear confrontation, the Soviets eventually stood down. Boehner and McConnell may want to note that Nikita Khrushchev had his own version of Tea Party hardheads in the Kremlin back then but decided that those who, in JFK’s words, “want to blow up the world,” should not have the final word.

Clinton and Obama would do well to remember that, too.

Update: Was there a GOP eyelid moving on the Sunday talk shows? Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl reiterates the party talking points but mentions “revenue raisers” as a euphemism for tax hikes and observes that “we’ll take the savings we can get now, and we will relitigate this as we get closer to the election.”


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