Weigel

The Yellow Peril in Nevada

James Fallows finds a beaut of an ad from Mark Amode i, a state senator running for the open NV-2 seat:

As Fallows says, “refusal to raise the debt ceiling is the move most likely to touch off a panicky dumping of U.S. securities and increase doubt about America’s status as a power that knows what it is doing.” It’s not like the IMF or the Chinese have been cagey about this – if we get a debt limit deal with substantial breathing room, investors will get off our backs. But why is an ad like this even possible? It’s possible because the idea of raising the debt limit is so odious to voters, a nightmare that evokes images of American failure and weakness just as clearly as a “bailout” does. And a colleague reminded me a few days ago that President Obama didn’t really predict this. Here was one of the first exchanges about a debt fight, back in December, in the form of a question posed by Marc Ambinder .

AMBINDER: How do these negotiations affect negotiations or talks with Republicans about raising the debt limit?  Because it would seem that they have a significant amount of leverage over the White House now, going in.  Was there ever any attempt by the White House to include raising the debt limit as a part of this package?

OBAMA: When you say it would seem they’ll have a significant amount of leverage over the White House, what do you mean?

We pause now to slap our foreheads. They’ll have leverage because no one wants to raise the debt ceiling. When you were a senator, you didn’t want to!

AMBINDER: Just in the sense that they’ll say essentially we’re not going to raise the – we’re not going to agree to it unless the White House is able to or willing to agree to significant spending cuts across the board that probably go deeper and further than what you’re willing to do.  I mean, what leverage would you have –

OBAMA: Look, here’s my expectation – and I’ll take John Boehner at his word – that nobody, Democrat or Republican, is willing to see the full faith and credit of the United States government collapse, that that would not be a good thing to happen.  And so I think that there will be significant discussions about the debt limit vote.  That’s something that nobody ever likes to vote on.  But once John Boehner is sworn in as Speaker, then he’s going to have responsibilities to govern.  You can’t just stand on the sidelines and be a bomb thrower.

You can’t?