President Obama has talked about the sequester often enough, and his press secretary, Jay Carney, is clear about the consequences during the daily White House briefings.
But where's the urgency? The situation seems more dire than the previous economic cliff crises because Republicans genuinely believe that they will win by holding out, and because they're angry about having to yield to more revenue increases than the deal that created the sequester implied. But Obama has not resorted to full finger-shaking, red-faced exhorting. Why not? Here are three reasons in order of significance:
1. Any deal that comes from the White House will not pass muster with House Republicans. So every effort must start and end in Congress. That is an incontrovertible political truth.
2. There are no cage-rattlers at the White House. Rahm Emanuel was a cage-rattler. He was capable of making ripples that could tip dynamics and make the incontrovertible... controvertible. The White House today is much quieter. There are no huge, saber-teeth personalities.
3. The agencies are doing the job for him. From flight delays to FBI furloughs, entities that are more trusted than politicians are giving the lowdown to the media, which is repeating it. The projected misery is what will influence public opinion, which, in turn, might influence Congress.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The myth of the stay-at-home dad
Subscribe to the Week