The Fiscal Cliff and the Republicans’ Nuclear Option

In his appearance on “Meet the Press” yesterday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham merely stated the obvious – and articulated the frustration of the entire Republican caucus– when he said, about President Obama and the Democrats, “I don’t think they’re serious about finding a deal” to avoid driving over the “fiscal cliff.”

Equally obvious is the reason Obama and the Democrats are not serious about finding a deal. As Graham said, in the same interview, “It’s pretty clear… they’ve made a political calculation.”

But perhaps there is a way for Republicans to turn President Obama’s refusal to engage to their advantage. They could start by publicly and explicitly stating that the president’s actions show him to be disinterested in a serious deal — one that addresses the tax code, spending, and entitlements in a fashion that will actually put the country back on something approaching the right track.

Then they can emphasize that — precisely because they are so interested in addressing the country’s fiscal problems they are calling for a special negotiator to handle discussions over the fiscal cliff. This individual will obviously need to be someone with a track record of forging bipartisan compromise: which is why they’ll call in Bill Clinton.

Knowing Bill Clinton’s ego, I can’t possibly imagining him turning that invitation down. Can you? What I can imagine is Bill Clinton stepping out of a limousine, being tracked by an armada of cameras, and stepping up to a podium with dozens of microphones as sycophantic MSM hacks breathlessly report his every move, dominating all forms of media. What I cannot imagine is anyone, from that point on, paying much attention to Barack Obama.

And if Clinton and the Republican actually manage to reach an agreement? Imagine Bill Clinton, flanked by McConnell and Boehner, smiles all around, making the announcement on the Capitol steps. Even better, imagine Barack Obama’s reaction. That sucking sound you hear would be the oxygen being sucked out of what little will be left of the Obama presidency after Bill Clinton gets through with it. You don’t seriously expect congressional Democrats not to support a bill with the Big Dog’s imprimatur on it, do you?

And why should there not be an agreement? During the six years that he had to deal with a Republican House and Senate, President Clinton and congressional Republicans enacted several important bills. And anything that comes out of Clinton-GOP discussions is likely to be better for our side, better for the economy, and more palatable to the public at large than the alternative.

But even if no agreement results, the mere fact that Republicans were willing to talk with Clinton while not with Obama will speak volumes. It will also do considerable damage to Obama’s effectiveness and prestige. So what say you, Bill? Interested in a little payback for the way Obama treated your wife in the ’08 primaries?