MSNBC's O'Donnell Theorizes Obama 'Manipulated' to Block Budget Deal While 'Pretending' to Want Compromise

 On Friday’s Last Word, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell advanced his belief that President Obama never had any desire for Republicans to accept the plan that he himself proposed because his strategy was to "manipulate" the process and appear willing to compromise, while at the same time insisting on tax increases to ensure that Republicans would never agree to his offer. O’Donnell further theorized that, because Republicans were about to agree to a tax increase similar to Obama’s proposal, the President changed his demands to deliberately derail negotiations.

During a segment with NBC correspondent Kristen Welker, O’Donnell observed:

So, to my eye, it was very easy for President Obama to appear - pretend even, if you will - that he was willing to negotiate all of these things that would be difficult for Democrats as long as he was demanding this one thing that he absolutely knew from the start was impossible for Republicans. And in a negotiation where nothing's agreed to until everything's agreed to, the President wasn't agreeing to anything.

A bit later, while speaking with NBC correspondent Kelly O’Donnell, Lawrence O’Donnell added:

They [Republicans] then claimed the President, having reached that agreement with them, then asked for a bigger revenue increase, which they absolutely couldn't do. That would look like, if that's the way it played out, that would look like, in the end, the President making sure they didn't get a deal.

During an interview with Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the MSNBC host further suggested that President Obama had "manipulated" the negotiations and had won the public "perception" battle:

He didn't get the big deal, but he got the perception that he wanted it, and now he doesn't have to live with any of the politically painful consequences of the big deal. That looks like a big win for the President, and it looks like a perfectly manipulated process by the President from beginning to end.

Below is a transcript of relevant portions of the Friday, July 22, Last Word on MSNBC:

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Well, Kristen, I’ve been saying for a couple of weeks, there was no hope of a grand bargain, that all of this was a mirage, given that each side had a specific thing that they absolutely would not do, and the other side wouldn’t do, you know, wouldn’t do it, so they were going to be stuck on taxes from the start. So, to my eye, it was very easy for President Obama to appear - pretend even, if you will - that he was willing to negotiate all of these things that would be difficult for Democrats as long as he was demanding this one thing that he absolutely knew from the start was impossible for Republicans. And in a negotiation where nothing’s agreed to until everything’s agreed to, the President wasn’t agreeing to anything.

...

The Boehner news conference was fascinating. He didn’t want to - it seemed at the beginning he didn’t want to specify a number. He said we agreed to a number on revenues, which I found shocking enough, and then later he said it was $800 billion in revenue increases that he and Eric Cantor agreed to. They then claimed the President, having reached that agreement with them, then asked for a bigger revenue increase, which they absolutely couldn’t do. That would look like, if that’s the way it played out, that would look like, in the end, the President making sure they didn’t get a deal.

...

I see a President get a deal - an outcome, I should say - that is the best political outcome he could possibly get, which is the perception of him as the only reasonable man, the one who is willing to compromise and go against his party if necessary on some very difficult things, and he fought and fought and fought, and pushed and pushed and pushed, and wanted the big deal. Even after Eric Cantor walked out, he wanted the big deal. Even after all these breakdowns in the negotiations, he wanted the big deal. He was the only one who wanted the big deal, and he pushed that all the way to the end, and he didn’t get the big deal, but he got the perception that he wanted it, and now he doesn’t have to live with any of the politically painful consequences of the big deal. That looks like a big win for the President, and it looks like a perfectly manipulated process by the President from beginning to end.