Negotiation is like any skill, it takes practice. But at the simplest level there are a few rules that must be followed. The first rule is that you must negotiate as if you expect to win. When the conservatives in the house passed the bill to defund Obamacare Boehner should not have wavered. He should have embraced Cruz and thanked him for carrying the water.
When McCain and McConnell and a handful of those in the media (Karl Rove) started the nonsense of we can't win someone should have placed a phone call to him. "Karl, we're trying to save the economy hear from the ravages of Obamacare. Can you jump on board for a second?"
Had the GOP leadership understand this very basic piece of negotiation we would be in a very different spot right now.
Instead we have a group of pseudo intellectuals who completely miss the point that you have to open with a strong position. Had the GOP leadership done this the conservatives could have handed them a victory. Perhaps defund would have failed but we would have gotten the delay.
When the House passed the bill the other thing Boehner needed to do is make the case. Support the darn bill! Tell the people over and over and over in excruciating detail all of the things that are wrong with this patched together law and how it is terrible for the economy and terrible for jobs.
Until we the Republican Party replace some of the old guard we should expect these losses to continue. If the leadership is this inept at negotiation even a third rate intellect like Harry Reid will continue to beat them.
When you sit down at the table and begin to negotiate and you expect to lose, you will always lose.