The Atlantic has the article 3 Reasons ‘Saving Face’ Is Overrated by Eric Liu. He expresses exactly what it is that drives me crazy about thoughts of saving face in the current political situation.
And what about President Obama? He isn’t blameless in the metastasis of this crisis. But the pattern of his dealings with congressional Republicans actually underscores the danger of caring too much about face when the other side cares too little. He tried in recent years to negotiate rationally and earnestly on taxes and spending, to give the other side something they could call a win, all the while finding that he was yielding more than he was gaining. (Remember, the funding “victory” he seeks right now would maintain Paul Ryan’s sequestration spending levels). Obama’s reward for this earnestness was a shutdown. This explains why he’s taking a hard line this time, and why his former strategist David Plouffe now concedes that by accommodating too much in the past Obama only encouraged GOP intransigence. If there’s a face-related risk for the president now, it lies only in caving.
The Republicans ought to be talking about how much punishment they are willing to take rather than getting a fig leaf to cover over their utter surrender.
For a party that always puts a priority on punishing bad behavior, this is a time for them to take what is coming to them.