White House

“You Get Nothing”

If this account of fiscal cliff negotiations from the Wall Street Journal between President Obama and John Boehner are any indication, the president is a much tougher negotiator than outward appearances and the niceties of press conferences reveal.

Mr. Obama repeatedly lost patience with the speaker as negotiations faltered. In an Oval Office meeting last week, he told Mr. Boehner that if the sides didn't reach agreement, he would use his inaugural address and his State of the Union speech to tell the country the Republicans were at fault.

At one point, according to notes taken by a participant, Mr. Boehner told the president, "I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?"

"You get nothing," the president said. "I get that for free."

The president doesn't need your "bully pulpit" when he has raw confidence, but he does reserve the right to use it.

This makes Boehner's Plan B fail look even worse than it already did, and I suspect there will be a tear in his beer over the holiday. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost.