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Daily Archives: June 18, 2012


Obama campaign: “Insular and arrogant?”

I don’t know if you got to hear David Plouffe tell the world yesterday that there was nothing political about President Obama’s decision to refuse to deport certain illegal aliens.

I assume he must have thought most people would buy that explanation.  I also assume he had no idea or didn’t care how lame that had to sound.

Albert Hunt has an article in Bloomberg where he takes a look at the Obama campaign as it exists right now.

Private conversations with a half-dozen of the smartest Democratic political thinkers — all of whom have played at the highest levels of national campaigns, are genuine Obama backers, and almost never are consulted by the campaign — reveal a consensus of advice for the president: Stop trying to tell voters they’re doing better, offer an optimistic sense of how, if re-elected, you would lead America to more prosperous times, and challenge Republicans with specifics.

But, they’re not listening as is obvious.  They continue to try to pretend the country is better off since they’ve been in charge (meanwhile seeming to hedge that by blaming current conditions on, well, you name it, from tsunamis to ATMs, to Bush to Europe).

However they seem blind to the reality that the majority of the country just doesn’t see it the way they’re trying to spin it.  And they’re getting tired of the repeated attempts:

“I just want to see specifics and quit the trash talk,” the 31-year-old web designer and construction worker says in the session conducted by the pollster Peter Hart for the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. “Just get down to business and figure this thing out.”

That’s a 31 year old telling the President of the United States and his campaign to grow up, quit the divisive nonsense and, instead of trying to set a record for fundraisers, actually do the work you were hired to do.

One Democratic pollster says:

“The challenge for the president is not the current conditions, but the huge expectations he set that have not been met,” said Hart, a leading Democratic pollster. “There is no road map, no program, no conviction of where the president wants to lead the country.”

I disagree with one aspect of what Hart says – the current conditions are indeed a challenge for the president which is why he keeps trying to change the subject and/or blame others.    And yes, the huge expectations are tied to these conditions.  His challenge is to somehow convince the electorate he’s done a good enough job to warrant re-election.  And he’s failing miserably at that.

Too often, it’s felt that Obama is playing political small ball or tactical games. Party critics note the fumbled response to the president’s much-criticized statement earlier this month that the “private sector is doing fine.”

That’s exactly right.  Because, as Hart says “there is no road map, no program, no conviction of where the president wants to lead the country.”  When sailing in fair winds and prevailing seas, he (like just about anyone else) can handle it fine.  But when faced with headwinds and and stormy seas his lack of leadership becomes obvious.  The man has no idea how to lead, isn’t that good of a politician and really hasn’t the experience to know how to turn this mess around.

But he thinks he does.  And he thinks that he and his campaign have it all under control:

The campaign has an almost mystical confidence in sophisticated technology and in its organization, assets that only matter in a razor-tight race. Further, these other strategists say, the Obama camp is no more justified in its belief that this campaign is like a rerun — with the uniforms changed — of 2004, when a shakily popular Republican president won re-election, than it would be to believe that 2012 is a reprise of 1980, when an incumbent president was thrown out for non-performance.

Absolutely correct.  That belief within the Obama campaign has led to this:

The central challenge, the other Democratic consultants say, is a compelling narrative from the president and campaign, which they describe as unusually insular and arrogant.

The campaign however (see Cleveland speech) thinks it does have “a compelling narrative” which then makes both the president and campaign increasingly “insular and arrogant” … a sure formula for defeat.

But look at the options.  He has a record that is abysmal, he’s increasingly seen as incompetent or just not interested or engaged (or all three) and his campaign to blame others and “trash talk” as the PA voters noted, is falling flat.

How does he then change course and put a “compelling narrative” together that somehow, in the ruins of this economy, convinces the country he should be the choice for 4 more years?

I don’t know, nor does he or his campaign apparently, but the consultants are right – that’s his challenge. 

At the moment, given the economy and the circumstances, it is a challenge that appears to be beyond him.  And I think the fraying around the edges we’re all witnessing shows that and is the beginning of the great unraveling.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Meanwhile in Egypt, meet the new boss, same as the old boss

So much for the “Twitter Revolution”, aka Arab Spring in Egypt.  Seems we’re back to square one:

Egypt’s military leaders issued a constitutional decree Sunday that gave the armed forces sweeping powers and degraded the presidency to a subservient role, as the Muslim Brotherhood declared that its candidate had won the country’s presidential runoff election.

The bold assertion of power by the ruling generals followed months in which they had promised to cede authority to a new civilian government by the end of June. Instead, activists and political analysts said, the generals’ move marked the start of a military dictatorship, a sharp reversal from the promise of Egypt’s popular revolt last year.

The court dissolved Parliament and the committee drafting the new Constitution.  As for the fact that a member of the Muslim Brotherhood has declared victory in the presidential race?  Meh.

The declaration, published in the state gazette, had been expected, but its details indicate that the military has asserted far greater authority than observers had anticipated. Under the order, the president will have no control over the military’s budget or leadership and will not be authorized to declare war without the consent of the ruling generals.

But not to worry, a new, new Constitution is in the offing:

The document said the military would soon name a group of Egyptians to draft a new constitution, which will be subject to a public referendum within three months. Once a new charter is in place, a parliamentary election will be held to replace the Islamist-dominated lower house that was dissolved Thursday after the country’s high court ruled that one-third of the chamber’s members had been elected unlawfully.

So, other than the ouster of Mubarak, not much has changed, has it:

“With this document, Egypt has completely left the realm of the Arab Spring and entered the realm of military dictatorship,” said Hossam Bahgat, a prominent human rights activist. “This is worse than our worst fears.”

Question:  Now that this has become fait accompli, how does the Obama administration react to this outcome given its support of the revolutionaries?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Hints about how the Supreme Court will rule on ObamaCare?

File this under speculation, because that’s essentially what it is (but you have to do a little of it every now and then, and besides, it’s a sport when talking about pending SCOTUS decisions), but still speculation with some possibility of being accurate.

It seems, according to  Avik Roy, that June 25th is most likely the day we will learn the fate of ObamaCare from the Supreme Court.

“Setting aside the ACA cases,” he notes, “the Court essentially has twelve other decisions to hand down.” In addition, “in recent Terms, the Court has handed down opinions on Wednesdays or Thursdays of both of the last two weeks of the Term, in addition to the regularly scheduled Mondays. And the Court has already announced that it will issue one or more opinions next Thursday, June 21.” Worth also noting, he writes, “the Court almost never issues more than four or five opinions on the same day.”

Hence, if the court issues four or five opinions each on Monday, June 18 and Thursday, June 21, that would leave between two and four opinions for the last scheduled day for reading opinions: Monday, June 25.

And how will the ruling go?  Well, Ruth Bader Ginsberg has said previously that there are some “sharp divides” among the justices.

But, again according too Roy, Ginsberg may have also hinted she’s on the “dissenting” side, meaning that she’s on the minority side of the decision.  The basis for that claim?

In her ACS remarks, Ginsburg suggested that she might be on the dissenting side of the case. “I have spoken on more than one occasion about the utility of dissenting opinions, noting in particular that they can reach audiences outside the court and can propel legislative or executive change,” said Ginsburg, in the context of a 2007 pay discrimination case.

Or that may signal nothing at all (she may simply have been speaking academically about “dissenting opinions”).  The key, if we accept the premise that she’s on the dissenting side of this particular ruling is what that means.

Roy mentions that the divide may not be associated with killing the mandate – there may be more than 5-4 agreement on that subject (he suggests it is almost a given that Kennedy will join the conservatives on the court to kill the mandate).   The divide may be with what to do with the law if the mandate is killed:

The key question is: how much of the rest of the law should be struck down along with it?

Ginsburg wittily put it this way: “If the individual mandate, requiring the purchase of insurance or the payment of a penalty, if that is unconstitutional, must the entire act fall? Or, may the mandate be chopped, like a head of broccoli, from the rest of the act?”

My understanding—again, from third-hand sources—is that this question of severability is the subject of intense debate among the justices, even now. It’s entirely unclear whether the Court will strike down the mandate and two related provisions—what I’ve called the “strike three” scenario; or take down the entirety of Title I, where the law’s restructuring of the private insurance market resides; or overturn the whole law. Indeed, it is probable that the Court has not yet decided how it will rule on this question.

As far as I’m concerned, I’d like to see the entire law struck down.  However, I’m now wondering whether or not that will play out. 

Roy also mentions Antonin Scalia’s recent book and asserts that it hints that Scalia is on the side of dumping the mandate and the law in its entirety.  He wonders if Scalia, given his writing about the scale of the Commerce Clauses expansion and Scalia’s unhappiness with that, has chosen ObamaCare as the case he’s chosen for judicial pushback. 

So, again, based on this speculation, one might surmise that the court has found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional, but is struggling with how much or how little of the law to strike down.

Of course, the individual mandate is the heart and soul of the bill.   It is the payment mechanism that undergirds the entire ponzi scheme program.   No mandate, no money, no expanded risk pool, not much of anything if it goes.

So perhaps even if the court leaves much of ObamaCare standing, it will end up being a Pyrrhic victory for its supporters as the law will then be unsustainable as it exists (minus the mandate).

I guess we’ll see on or around the 25th.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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