Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dialogue With Deaf Democrats

Barack Obama and Joe Biden are out replaying favorite scenes from 2008, but for crowds of Democrats and independent voters, it is as if the sound has been turned off. Their base has gone deaf.

"When I talk to Democrats around the country," the President says in a Rolling Stone interview, "I tell them, 'Guys, wake up here. We have accomplished an incredible amount in the most adverse circumstances imaginable.' I came in and had to prevent a Great Depression, restore the financial system so that it functions, and manage two wars."

He concedes "there were some areas where we could have picked a fight with Republicans that might have gotten our base feeling good, but would have resulted in us not getting legislation done."

Joe Biden, as is his wont, puts it more bluntly and tells Democrats to "stop whining."

But the epidemic of deaf, depressed Democrats is not likely to abate between now and November, and there is nothing in the new health care reforms to treat their condition.

If anything, the President's pyrrhic victory in passing that legislation, rather than concentrating on economic issues, is a root cause of his dilemma now--a year-long spectacle of Republicans yowling about "Obamacare" while Democrats butchered and bargained over thousands of incomprehensible pages to buy off their own dissidents.

If the White House had set out to stage scenes that would lead to voter disgust and disenchantment, the results couldn't have surpassed the months leading to passage of health care reform that few voters understand--leaving only images of an ugly process and few signs of the progress that the new laws represent.

Was passing something rather than nothing worth it? The President will be out claiming that, in the long run, it was. But even his most ardent admirers will have their doubts and may not be energized enough to avoid the looming debacle at the ballot boxes.

Symbolically, Rahm Emanuel who counseled against doing that is leaving the White House to run for Mayor of Chicago. The President should have taken the advice of his most obnoxious pol.

Update: If Democrats fail to rebound, it won't be for the President's lack of trying. He drew an "upbeat but controlled" crowd of 26,000 in Wisconsin yesterday, telling them:

"The prediction among the pundits is, there's going to be a bloodletting for Democrats. That's what they're saying in Washington. And the basis of their prediction is that all of you who worked so hard in 2008 aren't going to be as energized, aren't going to be as engaged...

"We cannot sit this one out. We can't let this country fall backward because the rest of us didn't care enough to fight."

Meanwhile, the worst Democratic candidate in memory, Michael Dukakis, who lost to Bush I in 1988, has dropped by the White House to remind them to "pound" the message that Republicans "want to go back and do exactly what got us in this mess in the first place."



Harley King said...

People are very fickle. What most don't understand is that the president has very little control over the economy. Our current situation had its beginnings in decisions made during the Clinton years.

I enjoy your blog.

Serious Implications said...

Our current situation goes back to the supply-side gurus during the Reagan Administration.

One of the biggest (of many) contributors to the financial meltdown occurred during G.W. Bush's term when HUD re-jiggered the conforming requirements for Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac, pressuring them to buy toxic derivatives from Wall Street.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of the features of our current situation can be traced back to Reagan. Nixon was competent by comparison, but Reagan was competent compared to Bush Jr. Obama may not be very good but he is probably too good to win a second term, and then I suppose I will be saying that Palin made Bush look competent.