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.