One key job of a sitting president, especially in an election year, is to conduct oneself in a way that helps your Party win races. If you’re a popular president, you must tirelessly stump for candidates. If you’re unpopular, you can still act forceful and in-charge. Even if people disagree with you, their primal instincts will push them toward complying with a confident troop leader.
As president, your legislative calendar should be carefully crafted and timed to boost your comrades fighting for office. Bills should be introduced that make your guys look good, while forcing the other guys to either dodge or take unpopular stands. A steady stream of feel-good executive orders & speeches should emanate from the Oval Office throughout the Fall. “Third-rail” issues should be scrupulously avoided.
Needless to say, obama, neither savvy politician nor experienced legislator, much less a leader, has failed on all these counts. Ultimately, obama doesn’t care: the common complaint among Democratic candidates this year has been that the White House has told them, in no uncertain terms, that they are on their own.
Even worse than these sins of omission, the obama administration has committed several missteps toxic to an already struggling Democratic party:
Health Care Reform
Way back in 2009, 3/4 of Americans favored health care reform, with at least 2/3 supporting universal single payer. Possessing momentum, a mandate, and a 60-vote majority, enacting HCR should’ve been a slam-dunk. Yet the entire Democratic machine stood flat-footed as the nascent TP staged protests against HCR, before belatedly dispatching Nancy Pelosi to engage in a puerile pissing match. The bill went over like a lead zeppelin in congress, ambushed by blue dogs who’d slipped their leashes. It was in any case an academic exercise, as the HCR bill exited the White House stillborn; a perverted creation of BO’s secret sessions with industry lobbyists, a Health Care Reform with no “care” and scant “reform” in it.
And thus was an eminently popular idea, whose time had clearly arrived, become an albatross draped about the neck of every Democrat running for office, with Martha Coakley the honorary first recipient.
The Oil Spill
As terrible as this disaster was, it nevertheless offered the obama administration a rare opportunity to gain respect, by presenting a striking contrast of executive vigor to Bush’ callousness & ineptitude during Katrina.
Instead, obama ended up looking even more callous and impotent. Consequently, in the political chess game, Katrina as a dig against the GOP is permanently off the board. (Maneuverability on this issue was not helped by the self-coronated “Green Economy President’s” advocation a month earlier for expanded offshore drilling.)
Trying to act like he actually cared, BO blurted out some tough guy nonsense about ‘a boot on BP’s throat’. Which was as convincing as the muttered oaths of the wimp who’s had his lunch money stolen yet again.
A potential fatal blow to the drill-baby-drillers, the oil spill became instead a Democratic failure. To add injury to insult, a chance to push for accelerating the transition to renewable energy was lost.
A Bush program that everyone beyond Wall Street utterly abhorred, BO eagerly gobbled up the sloppy seconds. And, Presto! The GOP’s plague with the middle class voter, their eternal coddling of the rich & greedy, infected the Democrats as well.
A full 70% of Americans favor increased controls on illegal immigration. Only proglydites, whose vote you presumably already have, and libertarians & capitalists, whose vote you’ll never get, favor illegal immigration. Yet the obama administration went out of its way to combat Arizona’s SB1070 via legal action and public condemnation. Now, there were many paths to tread on this subject — decrying racial profiling while simultaneously announcing a cosmetic boost to border patrol, for example, or simply ignoring it — that skirted a controversial, compromising stand. Instead, obama firmly linked all Democrats with illegal immigration. Every news story now includes an obligatory reference to ‘conservatives seek stronger border controls, while liberals (!) favor easing restrictions on immigration.’
The political equivalent of a high voltage power line lying in a puddle, sparking and buzzing, the Ground Zero mosque was unhesitatingly taken up by obama.
Nearly 80% of Americans oppose the construction of that mosque as insensitive and in bad taste. Yet the administration spent a good two weeks devoting its efforts to defense of the mosque, raising the canards of racism and 1st Amendment rights. As a result, the Democrats came across as jihadiphile desecrators of hallowed ground.
On Capitol Hill, the White House has chosen to: half-heartedly launch a repeal of DADT without first lining up enough votes; punt on the Bush tax cuts expiration after a three-and-out botching of the accompanying PR spin; threatened to force on its own congressmen a pre-election vote on a GOP-friendly, White House proposal for a $200 billion tax cut to businesses.
The list could go on.
What kind of Party leader repeatedly takes positions that 2/3 to 3/4 of Americans oppose? One answer is that obama is simply a bungling idiot, & his “handlers” by extension.
Or, realizing BO’s low approvals were irreparable, the White House may have instead consciously chosen to rally its extremist base. From the Paris Communards to the Moral Majority, this has been a standard, and not altogether unwise, tactic.
Another explanation for obama’s string of toxic stances exists: that he is a manchurian candidate, a trojan horse snuck into the Democratic Party and designed to destroy it from within. If so, then BO’s intentionally took these toxic missteps (or at least his creators knew he’d take them).
What will it take for the Democratic Party to realize its leader is poison? Apparently, nothing short of a midterm clobbering.
(c) 2010 by ‘tamerlane.’ All rights reserved.