The Democratic Problem Starts with Obama

The problems the Democrats are facing this year go all the way to the top:  Obama.  The contrast between an extremely well-run campaign and extremely inept governing are staggering.

It starts with Obama's assumption that he could personally change the way that Washington works, which manifested itself in a mindless pursuit of "bi-partisanship."  Yes, the polls showed then and now that the public is tired of the bickering and bi-partisan impasse.  But to break that impasse, you have to have people on both sides willing to do so.   

The Health Care Reform process is the perfect example.  Obama's team made hundreds of concessions in negotiations with Republicans and got zero votes for it.   A rule of American politics is this:  you don't make concessions unless you extract the votes in return.   A corollary is thus:  the minority party understands that it will not get everything it wants nor even half of what it wants but it will get some of what it wants...the Republicans, the Party of NO!, were not willing to accede to this.  And why should they?  Democrats kept compromising and compromising without any ironclad demands in return.  Were I faced with that response, I would have kept pushing too.  One disgusted truly independent friend of mine isn't planning to vote this year:  "What's worse, evil Republicans or spineless Democrats?" he asks.

Obama's seeming aloofness and disengagement has not worked to his advantage.  The Presidency is a bully pulpit and Obama has largely abdicated that advantage.   George Bush was a horrible president...I rate only Buchanan, Harrison, and Garfield below him (the latter two getting grades of Incomplete)...but he knew how to speak to the country in direct terms and make an emotional connection whether you liked him or loathed him.  Bill Clinton could do the same.  Obama?   Pfft.  The detached, cerebral delegator is not what Americans are looking for an more importantly it's not an effective mode.

The lack of acumen about legislative process has been appalling.   One of the flashing yellow lights that worried me about an Obama presidency was Obama's seeming disinterest in the legislative process while in the Senate, compiling a very thin legislative record and a low profile.   His appointment of Rahm Emmanuel as Chief of Staff reassured me but Emmanuel has been a disaster at orchestrating and driving the various elements on the Hill...I guess you need more than a capacity to drop F-bombs.

Finally, a tone-deaf tunnel vision has been misplaced.  I disagree with critics who say that Obama shouldn't have made the mega-battle for Health Care Reform his first priority.  A battle like that is for first year, first term...as President, you'll never have more political capital.  But the almost cavalier lack of attention to the economy, particularly employment, is criminal.  See Bill Clinton:  "It's the economy, stupid."   

The economic downturn may have been set up and begun on Bush's watch.  The structural problems such as the anemic job growth from 2000 to 2008 may lie at Bush's feet.  The class warfare, whose results include a staggering concentration of wealth juxtaposed against flat or declining income for the middle class is a result of Republican-backed policies.   But when unemployment starts going up, most American's don't care about when/why/who...they look at it as a current problem and they want it addressed NOW.  Obama was slow off the mark to deal with this, seemingly content to push sunshine when too many people were starting to feel pain.

I voted for Obama in 2008 and will vote for Obama in 2012 because as inept as he has shown himself to be, an inept and spineless Democratic administration is worse than an actively evil reprise of two Bush administrations or a foray into Tea Party land.

But after the drubbing the Democrats receive in two weeks, Obama, his staff, and the Democratic leadership need to spend some time looking in the mirror when they start trying to identify what went wrong.

Tags: 2010 elections, Democrats, leadership, futility, obama, obama (all tags)

Comments

2 Comments

This is all about Obama

The Democratic party was at the top of the world before Obama came in.  His cold and detached demeanor may have worked for him as a law professor, but does not work as President.  People want someone warm who they can relate to, not someone who is aloof and just doesnt seem to care.

 

by Kent 2010-10-23 12:19AM | 0 recs
All about Obama......he is in for a rude wakeup call.

 

The many reasons for this mess falls on Obama. The header statement is so very true on many level. That "bipartisan sh*t was just total Obama ego run wild"...where did he get the idea that he could work with the GOP. I will never vote for him again unless the Dems have an uncontested primary in 2012 which I doubt very much. He is way too outside reality for me. Since 1980 the GOP has run election after election using the Lee Atwater model of total war--since then they have run every election except 1992 with one thing in mind -- destroy the Democrats and the social safety nets its promotes.  I think Obama must have been in Kenya -- he certainly has no place as head of our party.  He will get his first big taste of just how bipartisan the Republicans can be in January. Should they even just take the House, Obama is in for it. I really think that he naively assumes that when that happens he will get with them to run the country--totally wrong. Rep. Darrel Issa has already set in motion the GOP's plans to go after him. He's going to have a fight similar to Bill Clinton. By 2012, I would not be surprised if they don't already have Ken Starr and a team to impeach him.  While it didn't work for the GOP against Clinton, Obama is a very soft target for them. For one thing Clinton is a pugnacious type of politican and he fought them tooth and nail. He won and Gingrich lost. With Obama, he will be impeached before he even realizes what happens. Frankly, I don't care. We get Joe Biden as the President.  But maybe, Obama sees what's going on. Right now he's out on the stump (he should have started helping the Democrats win this election in 2008 when his election machine was in high gear. As we've seen (like in Massachusetts, its hard to get him engaged to help Democrats) in past, its almost too little too late--like last week instead of being out helping candidates he was hole up in the White House looking over the evening dinner wine list.  SCENE: The White House Jan. 02, 2011.  The assistant comes to the Oval office and announces to Mr. Obama.  "There is Mr. Ken Starr here to see you about some important matters, Mr. President!!!" The many reasons for this mess falls on Obama. The header statement is so very true on many level. That "bipartisan sh*t was just total Obama ego run wild"...where did he get the idea that he could work with the GOP. I will never vote for him again unless the Dems have an uncontested primary in 2012 which I doubt very much. He is way too outside reality for me. Since 1980 the GOP has run election after election using the Lee Atwater model of total war--since then they have run every election except 1992 with one thing in mind -- destroy the Democrats and the social safety nets its promotes.  I think Obama must have been in Kenya -- he certainly has no place as head of our party.  He will get his first big taste of just how bipartisan the Republicans can be in January. Should they even just take the House, Obama is in for it. I really think that he naively assumes that when that happens he will get with them to run the country--totally wrong. Rep. Darrel Issa has already set in motion the GOP's plans to go after him. He's going to have a fight similar to Bill Clinton. By 2012, I would not be surprised if they don't already have Ken Starr and a team to impeach him.  While it didn't work for the GOP against Clinton, Obama is a very soft target for them. For one thing Clinton is a pugnacious type of politican and he fought them tooth and nail. He won and Gingrich lost. With Obama, he will be impeached before he even realizes what happens. Frankly, I don't care. We get Joe Biden as the President.  But maybe, Obama sees what's going on. Right now he's out on the stump (he should have started helping the Democrats win this election in 2008 when his election machine was in high gear. But he preferred to watch as Al Franken almost got beat in Minn. runoff and Martin lost to Saxby in Georgia. As we've seen (like in Massachusetts for Kennedy's old senate seat, its hard to get him engaged to help Democrats) in the  past, its almost too little too late--like last week instead of being out helping candidates he was hole up in the White House looking over the evening dinner wine list.  Our precinct in west Houston was on the uptick -- one time it was 99%  Republicraps but had moved to 50-50 by 2006 when a Democrat was elected for the first time to the State Senate. Then along comes Obama and now we are going to get wiped out as the Republicans rushed back in. Obama has given no money, no organization, and no help to local Democrat races--he is worthless as head of the party. SCENE: The White House Jan. 02, 2011.  The assistant comes to the Oval office and the caller announces to Mr. Obama.  "There is a Mr. Ken Starr here to see you about some important matters, Mr. President!!!" Obama deserves the treatment he is going to get from the Republicans lead by Darrel Issa and Mitch McConnell. He forever has thought of them as his friends.

 

by hddun2008 2010-10-26 12:52PM | 0 recs

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