July 1st, 2010

The Negotiator

I’m fascinated by Bob Vander Plaats.  Don’t laugh. I’m serious.

I know that I’ve been guilty of calling him a perpetual politician, a constant campaigner, and three or five time loser depending on how you at home want to score it.  Still, Bob Vander Plaats has been able to do more than a lot of Iowa politicians, remain in the conversation for an entire decade.

That might make some of you roll your eyes, but lets be honest here, the dude is one hell of a salesman.  If he wasn’t he couldn’t have been able to fund all of those campaigns.  Vander Plaats’ supporters like to point out that Branstad spent $2.5 million in the primary to get 50% of the vote, but lets not overlook the fact that Vander Plaats has spent $2,575,164.14 trying to win the Republican nomination.

Yes, basically Bob has spent almost the exact amount money trying to win the Republican nomination for governor as Branstad did in the last decade.  Bob just spread out his $2.5 million in expenditures over three campaigns and ten years.

Some of us laughed at Vander Plaats’ demands to be on the Branstad ticket, but you can’t blame the guy for asking.  He’s pull that trick in both the other times he ran, and heck, it worked the last time around.

The big difference between 2006 and 2010 for Vander Plaats is that he is negotiating with someone totally different than Jim Nussle.  Now I like Jim a lot, but he was a go along to get along kinda guy.  Branstad is a skilled politician who knows exactly what he’s doing, even if at times he makes crazy uncle George look like he should get his drivers license back.

It’s probably a good thing that Bob Vander Plaats will never be the President of the United States either because its obvious that he doesn’t know a thing about zero-sum negotiating.  Zero-sum describes a situation in which a participant’s gain or loss is exactly balanced by the losses or gains of the other participant.  This is how treaties and peace agreements are normally worked out.

That is unless you are France or Great Britain and you want to punish Germany so harshly that you create a environment where Hitler comes to power and then proceeds to destroy your countries until the good ole Red, White, and Blue come in to save your butt.

But unlike the Allied Forces after WWI, Vander Plaats has never achieved an outright victory.  Sure, he can rightfully claim a symbolic victory, but that doesn’t mean he has some sort of mandate to set the parameters of any negotiation.

Anyway, lets look and see what it is that Vander Plaats wants.  First we know that he wanted to be Branstad’s running mate.  He basically said so on Steve Deace’s radio program.  We know that this got shot down instantly.  We also know that he wants Branstad to take up his position on the executive order, which isn’t going to happen either.  Now it would be one thing if these were his opening statements, but Vander Plaats and his boisterous backers have indicated that this is all they are interested in.  If that is the case, they are being naïve or purposely irrational.

The problem with Vander Plaats negotiating tactics is that he’s not willing to give anything up.  The only thing Bob is willing to give Branstad is himself, and a promise that such a move would unite the party.  Yet if you listen to Bob, he is still going to go out and campaign for his executive order and all that jazz.  So what he is really offering Branstad is a big headache.

What I really this is at stake here is that Vander Plaats just wants and excuse to not have to endorse Branstad.  Deep down he has to know that there is no way in hell that Branstad would have put him on the ticket or back his “magic” executive order proposal.

So really what all this BS really is just a bunch of political maneuvering.  My guess is that Bob will fade away this fall but will stick his head up from time to time.  Then in late November he will sign on to a presidential campaign, for which he will compensated for, and then if his guy wins, get ready for another Vander Plaats campaign.  He will either take on Harkin or run for Governor again.

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About the Author

Krusty Konservative
Herschel Krustofski is the pseudonym for the anonymous author of Krusty Konservative, a blog which focuses on Iowa Politics. Created in February of 2006, Krusty Konservative is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the Iowa blogosphere. Since its conception, Krusty Konservative has never shied from tackling controversial issues, and providing insight to the inner workings of Republican politics in Iowa.

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