Barack Obama learned a political trick from Muhammad Ali called Rope a Dope. For you youngsters, this refers to the epic Rumble in the Jungle Heavyweight fight against George Foreman in 1974. Here is the Wikipedia explanation.
The rope-a-dope is performed by a boxer assuming a protected stance, in Ali’s classic pose, lying against the ropes, and allowing his opponent to hit him, toward the end that the opponent will tire and make mistakes which the boxer can exploit in a counter-attack. By leaning against the ropes, much of the punch’s force is absorbed by the ropes’ elasticity rather than the boxer’s body.
In competitive situations other than boxing, rope-a-dope is used to describe strategies in which one party purposely puts itself in what appears to be a losing position, attempting thereby to become the eventual victor.
Last summer during the debt ceiling hostage crisis, Obama appeared to be the loser, but yesterday Republicans woke up to the reality that they lost Big Time–that we were going to get $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions, with 50% of the cuts coming from the military and none of the cuts from Social Security and Medicare. The Congressional water carriers for the Military Industrial Complex are in a panic.
Republican lawmakers moved quickly Monday to protect the Pentagon from automatic budget cuts that will be triggered by the supercommittee’s failure, with the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee saying he’ll soon introduce legislation to repeal them.
President Obama immediately threatened to veto any attempt to undo the spending cuts. That means that Republicans would have to get a 2/3 rds majority to undo the first meaningful cutback in the Military budget in 60 years. In addition, if Obama also threatens to veto any attempt to restore the Bush Tax cuts in 2012 (they expire automatically on January 1, 2013), progressives will have totally changed the inequality dynamic, without having to pass a single piece of legislation.
So why aren’t progressives celebrating this morning? Got me. As long time readers know, it has been my contention that the key to revival of our democracy and our economy lies in radically reordering where we spend our collective resources. That more than 60% of our discretionary budget flows to the Military Industrial Complex is just the most egregious example of Crony Capitalism. If you had suggested to me last spring that a Republican House would pass a bill cutting $600 billion from the Pentagon budget over ten years, I would have called you crazy. But that is just what happened.
So there is only one election that matters a year from now. And that is that President Obama will be reelected and able to keep his veto threat. There is no possible 2012 electoral realignment of the Senate and House that would give the Republicans a 2/3 rds majority.
This is an amazing victory and all we have to do to hold on to it is reelect the President.