It seems the President has given up on the mid-terms

So the story going around among the Obama faithful are that the Progressives base needs to get enthusiastic and vote and clap harder and all that. But then you read a story like this in the New York Magazine and you come away with the following impression:

  1. The President is resigned to the fact that the Republicans will gain control of Congress.
  2. He does not find any mistakes with his legislative method.
  3. The problems the Democrats face this season are according to him due to miscommunication (whose?).
  4. He actually thought he would be able to heal the ideological divide.
  5. He still thinks he can get bipartisan support once the Republicans gain congress.
  6. The President is strangely detached and frankly seems uncomfortable and even reluctant to govern.

So those were my impressions. None of them gives me any "hope" or confidence regarding the outcome this midterm elections. But frankly for the President to even talk about the Republican takeover of Congress just reinforces the fact that like most of his legislative "battles", he has waved the white flag even before the fight began.

Here are some of the juicy passages.

During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called “tactical lessons.” He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.” He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works. Perhaps he should not have proposed tax breaks as part of his stimulus and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” so it could be seen as a bipartisan compromise.

I don't understand this part of looking too much like a tax and spend liberal Democrat. If that is his idea of communicating the urgency of a massive stimulus in face of economic doom, no wonder the stimulus ended being much smaller and far less effective than required. Worse still, because the President himself bemoans a necessary spending bill because it tarnishes his image, no wonder he is unable to convincingly sell the benefits of the said bill.

The report also reinforces my long-held belief that not only did the WH underestimate the Republicans from the very beginning, but they held the naive belief that Obama would be able to heal the partisan divides by "reaching across the aisle in good faith".

“If anybody thought the Republicans were just going to roll over, we were just terribly mistaken,” former Senator Tom Daschle, a mentor and an outside adviser to Obama, told me. “I’m not sure anybody really thought that, but I think we kind of hoped the Republicans would go away. And obviously they didn’t do that.”

<snip>

“Perhaps we were naïve,” Axelrod told me. “First, he’s always had good relations across party lines. And secondly, I think he believed that in the midst of a crisis you could find partners on the other side of the aisle to help deal with it. I don’t think anyone here expected the degree of partisanship that we confronted.”

Oh maybe he learned, but wait,

Obama expressed optimism to me that he could make common cause with Republicans after the midterm elections. “It may be that regardless of what happens after this election, they feel more responsible,” he said, “either because they didn’t do as well as they anticipated, and so the strategy of just saying no to everything and sitting on the sidelines and throwing bombs didn’t work for them, or they did reasonably well, in which case the American people are going to be looking to them to offer serious proposals and work with me in a serious way.”

I asked if there were any Republicans he trusted enough to work with on economic issues. The first name he came up with was Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who initially agreed to serve as Obama’s commerce secretary before changing his mind. But Gregg is retiring. The only other Republican named by Obama was Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman who has put together a detailed if politically problematic blueprint for reducing federal spending. The two men are ideologically poles apart, but perhaps Obama sees a bit of himself in a young, substantive policy thinker.

Hmm, I guess some people never learn. If the President thinks that Judd Gregg is an honest broker, then I have nothing more to say here. But then again he did say that his "good friend" Chuck Grassley was helping to draft a bipartisan health care bill for the Senate.

But probably the most telling passage of this President, who bemoans bad messaging, is this paragraph

Insulation is a curse of every president, but more than any president since Jimmy Carter, Obama comes across as an introvert, someone who finds extended contact with groups of people outside his immediate circle to be draining. He can rouse a stadium of 80,000 people, but that audience is an impersonal monolith; smaller group settings can be harder for him. Aides have learned that it can be good if he has a few moments after a big East Room event so he can gather his energy again. Unlike Clinton, who never met a rope line he did not want to work, Obama does not relish glad-handing.

Anyway, it's great read. It shows a President who appears insulated, unwilling to fight, still looking for bipartisanship (as if the 90s never happened, the last 2 years never happened), and angry at the progressive base that had sounded the clarion call on Republican obstructionism only to get shouted down by the same administration.

As for me I don't know what to say. On the one hand I read articles like this 3 weeks before an election and receive emails for the President through DNC/OFA asking for $25 donation, and I have to wonder what for? The President is resigned to the prospects of a Republican congress, and from what I see the DNC is willing to flush millions of dollars behind people like Blanche Lincoln and Heath Shuler.

So here's my call to Democrats: Vote. Donate to progressives (Bold Progressive and MoveOn). And hope that the President can wake up, get off the bipartisanship high-horse, and get to the dirty business of partisan politicking and governing because the country needs it now more than ever.

 

 

 

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Comments

9 Comments

You are right on--all good points

For many of the reasons you point to I am very disappointed with Obama and his administration. I am almost convinced that he no longer likes the endless tangles that he gets into with the GOP members of Congress. He must be truly disappointed at their treatment of him since he thought (wrongly) that they would work with him. Most Democrats following the hack jobs that we got in 2000, 2002, and 2004 KNEW that these are not people you can work with. The righwing media tries to make it seem that we should forget about all the LIES, DIRTY TRICKS, SCHEMING, ELECTION CHEATING, ets. that Karl Rove and his team over the last 20 years. It now seems that the ONLY Democrat who forgave the GOP was of all people Barack Obama.  Of all people being black should have made him automatically respond to the Republicans as his enemies. He is disgusting naive.

He isn't very good for the Democratic Party. In my precinct (in Texas), despite the huge GOP advantage in money and party organizations, we had pushed the Republican party to the brink of bankruptcy literally--they have no money. Well, then along comes Obama and his bumbling team of Clinton era retreats and now it is the Democrats around here who are on the run....it is a terrible situation.

Finally, he is about to find out the same lesson of Bill Clinton---that is once the GOP takes control of the House, they will have the great empowerment to go after him.  I wonder how he is going to feel when on Jan 2 2011, Ken Starr shows up at the White House to announce that the Republicans have decided to IMPEACH Obama......he is SCREWED and he deserves it....

by hddun2008 2010-10-15 10:49AM | 0 recs
RE: You are right on--all good points

You're telling me. Last year Richard Burr, who has one of the worst records in the Senate was for all intents and purposes being written off as another casualty. Right now he is nearly untouchable. Worse, the completely corrupt and amoral nitwit like David Vitter will probably dance his way to re-election. On the other hand, Russ Feingold, Barbara Boxer and Harry Reid (I would love to see him lose if not for Sharon Angle) are clinging on for their lives. Once safe Senate seats like WV, Washington and Illinois are also in play. And if by chance Democrats are able to cling on to the slightest majority, it'll be Joe Lieberman who will emerge as the king-maker.

These things don't happen in a vaccuum. The policies of this President might have been right, but his politics has been horrendous and Democrats all over the country will pay a heavy price for it this November.

by tarheel74 2010-10-16 12:41AM | 0 recs
RE: You are right on--all good points--its a damned shame Obama is so lethargic about his fellow Dems

I saw something a couple of days ago that shows how really lax he is and how much he hates to battle for the middle class.

He announced on Wednesday that he would NOT go after the Chinese on the trade issue. What is really remarkable is that this is the very issue that is killing the Democrats in states where millions of jobs has been lost (or given away by GW Bush and the GOP). I went to Ohio recently into the former industrial heart of America. It is sad. Around Youngstown over 500,000 jobs have moved offshore. 

But Obama has decided to "play nice" on the trade issue. The same day he made this announcement, the new numbers came out for our trade deficit with China--it was a record like billions of dollars.  What a pansy!!!! He should get tough on trade and put our workers back to work. There are thousands of products that we make that the Chinese refuse to allow us to sell there--it would be a joke if peoples livelihoods and homes didn't matter....he is such a milktoast.....

I think I have figured out the coming GOP strategy and it is a Karl Rove smell to it. He of course never stopped working for the Bush's.

The objective of the Bush's is to get another Bush in the White House. They really like the power and they think of themselves as a Royal Family in America.  I think they felt after GW screwed up so bad that they would have to wait to 2016 to run Jeb Bush but didn't plan on Obama being such a political screw up like GW Bush was.  Well, things have changed and they have adjusted their strategy.

Rove announced last week that he's buying $5 million worth of airtime for GOP candidates. The good part of that money comes from the Bush's connections right here in Texas. He could easily raise $100 million if he needed to.

That leads to Karl Rove's plan to run Jebbie Bush.  First they repeat the late 1990's. A. They get control of the House. B. The immediately call in the Ken Starr team and start impeachment proceedings.  C. The GOP really goes after the black guy since they are racist pricks anyway. They won't be able to impeach him--too many Democrats in the Senate won't do that to a black guy--the blacks would really go nuts on that one. But like they did with Clinton, the GOP for the next 6 years just hammer away at the idea that all Democrats/liberals/progressives like Obama are corrupt sleaveballs. Just like with Clinton some of the dirt will stick. Remember Obama is a CHICAGO politician which almost defines corruption in the minds of many Americans.

Now we get to 2012. All of a sudden Jeb decides to try a run for the Presidential GOP nomination. Hey, we all know how good the Bush/Rove team is at running a campaign--nothing is too low for them....remember the job they did on poor McCain in 2000.

Jeb will be run as Mr. Clean who can bring back the good old days before sleazy Obama came into office (wow! I cannot believe people have short memories  but they do....).  "He will bring about a more moral government and American nation. This is the same shit that GW Bush ran against old Al Gore on.

I think its a great strategy and should work. Obama will be protrayed as another bumbling Jimmy Carter. He doesn't have Clinton's pugnacious ability to fight back --- he will probably be beaten badly as Carter i.e. doesn't carry any states except Massachusetts......

by hddun2008 2010-10-17 06:36PM | 0 recs
"Hope"

I like that you used quotation marks around the word "hope" so early on in your piece.  It was nice of you not to bother to hide your sneering condescension toward progressives so I knew to take your article with a huge grain of salt.

Have you paid any attention to the huge political victories that Obama has given progressives despite the almost unbelievably strict Republican intransigence?  Health care reform and financial industry reform, flawed though they might be, have been high on the list of democratic priorities for the last two decades, and they have been accomplished now, in no small part due to the efforts of the man you seem to despise (because of the 2008 primaries?  Keep banging that drum, myDD diarists!).

As far as Obama being resigned to the fact that the Republicans will take the congress, well, that means he might just be a pragmatist.  It certainly will be nothing short of a miracle if we keep the house, but I don't imagine he thinks the senate is a done deal for the republicans, given his extremely aggressive campaign schedule.

by minnesotaryan 2010-10-15 11:35PM | 0 recs
RE: "Hope"

Well I frankly did not have that intention. It was a wordplay on the email I got from OFA soliciting $25 for change and hope (the usual pablum) when the president was basically throwing the towel in at the same time.

But if you must, much of the problems that this administration is having is because they and their loyalists are still stuck in the 2008 primaries (read Axelrod's admission). It is no coincidence that words like "hope", "change" and now pragmatism have now come to mean "capitulation", "triangulation" and taking the most politically expedient path towards a token legislative victory. I, like most progressives I know, would have been happy with a severely flawed bill that the President actually fought for, instead of a flawed bill that not just intitutionalizes the current corrupt system but actually enriches it in the name of "hope" and "change", just because the President lacked the intestinal fortitude to take on the Republicans despite early warnings of their intransigence.

The President and his loyalists cannot have it both ways. Either you acknowledge the Republican opposition and get off your high-horse and fight (which he did not) or just own up to your unwillingness to put up a fight and stop complaining of the stubbornness of the opposition. Whatever might be the case, the unwilligness to take on the Republicans has not just painted this administration as weak, but has energized a Republican base at the expense of the progressive base that has forever been despised by the beltway mavens in the WH.

by tarheel74 2010-10-16 12:31AM | 0 recs
Fact is

The fact is Obama is too arrogant to see his own inadequencies. He is detached not only from reality but from the reality that faces the american people everyday. Further, he simpyl is in over his head. What experience did he really have to serve as President? He had little time int he Senate, never worked in any type of governmental or business executive position, has no business or management experience. He was simply the best of the worst choices on the ballot. His inexperience and arrogance make him ill equipped to serve. His Presidency and the arrogance of the party leadership in Congress has done more damage to the party and the country than it has done good. Im disgusted..

by BuckeyeBlogger 2010-10-16 09:01PM | 0 recs
Time for us to give up on him

Obama needs to be taken out in 2012 at any cost.  He has wrecked all the hard work we did to rebuild the Democratic party in 2006 and made it so we will be in the wilderness for the next decade.  Its time to put lead boots on him and drown him in the Mississippi River. 

A good tagline to you against him in 2012 will be "Where was Barack?".  When millions of Americans lost their jobs in 2009, where was he?  Where was he during the oil spill? 

Im ready to get this guy out of the White House.

by Kent 2010-10-16 10:45PM | 0 recs
Policy vs. Politics

This president has been dead-on in terms of policy - and he's accomplished alot in his term. The full-on financial crash and global economic meltdown is stopped in its tracks, reversed. Healed.

Furthermore, he stands for the Good Guys. A comment monkey above me said "where was he during the oil spill" . What a joke. Barack Obama shoved BP to the table and made them set up the largest remediation fund ever demanded of any corporation. Something like 2 billion dollars. Maybe 20. I am not sure, the number escapes me.

And, the Prez also halted all drilling in its tracks until the well was capped. But he did something else, that really appeals to me as an independent.

He didn't step in and bail out BP. He didn't give BP lots of free government cash, like the Republicans wanted. He showed that the American government is not for hire by big oil.

So BP went in and finally fixed their mess. And now we've got clean water in the gulf, and a capped well. We've got a good man when it comes to the President.

What really strikes me about this post, apart from the comments it attracted "somehow" ... is the fact that it draws a line against policy vs. politics.

I am, for one, fairly happy that Pres. Obama hit back hard and in the Rolling Stone interview I read , I realized one thing.

He has defeated the GOP. Utterly. They tried to block him with everything they had. And they failed.

And then it dawned on me. This is an ask not what your country can do for you moment - if we, as voters - throw the real bastards out this election cycle. It will be the end of a 30 year reign of corruption in Washington.

Let me explain.

The GOP is running HEAVY media buys. That includes distorted polling, "pundits" on TV that are paid opinions. They pay off advertising packages through media outlets and the editors are influenced to run stories on them that cast them in a favorable light. If you don't believe this kind of placement is going on,  think again. It happened during the primaries. And then. Guess what.

 

The GOP was so fractured a third party came and swept a signficant number of Senate seats right out of their control. They backpeddled and tried to convince everyone that they're in charge of the TEA party but they're not.

 

Everyone is going to think about their vote, and cast it carefully. And if Obama is going to see a win. Which he will.

This is the Republican's Waterloo. They won't be able to stand this. They will finally break apart.

The effect will be staggering: billions of dollars circling around Falls Church, McLean, and the Lobbying firms near DC will suddenly realize they can't buy an election anymore. My view is simple. The President wants you to throw the real bastards out.

 

I can do that.

 

by Trey Rentz 2010-10-18 10:14AM | 0 recs
His Delusions Of "Bi-partisanship" Will Last Another 2 months!

In fact, I rather think that Republicans are going to be tipping their hands BEFORE January about subpoenas, investigations and the possibility that "impeachment is on the table."

Of course there will be NO special prosecutor since that law expired, which will make things more difficult for the witch-huters. Congressional investigations lack the power of an independent prosecutor. The Justice Department can always ignore them and in this case, should.

BUT, on the plus side they can always shut down the government AGAIN! And they will. 100% guaranteed.

The tea-baggers are now in control and they are completely nuts.

by Cugel 2010-10-20 05:59PM | 0 recs

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