If the Obama administration were a flotilla of ships, it might be sending out an SOS right about now. ObamaCare has hit the political equivalent of an iceberg. And last week the president’s international prestige was broadsided by the Scots, who set free the Lockerbie bomber without the least consideration of American concerns. Mr. Obama’s campaign promise of restoring common sense to budget management is sleeping with the fishes.
This administration needs a win. Or more accurately, it can’t bear another loss right now.
Of course what she’s talking about is the administration’s foreign policy and in particular Honduras. However that has become a bit of a side-show in comparison with the domestic politics now thundering from DC to the townhalls of America.
Kurtz is noticing a disturbing trend if your an Obama administration fan. The base is not happy. And they’re starting to sound off about it.
He cites Krugman, Clarence Page, David Corn and Frank Rich as part of the leftist chattering class losing confidence in the chosen one.
That can’t be good. But some of it is inevitable:
A president is going to be smacked around from the moment he takes office and the uplifting rhetoric of campaign rallies meets the gritty reality of governing.
But what Kurtz is talking about isn’t the “inevitable”. It’s more than that. It carries more than a hint of disillusionment. He quotes David Corn, for instance, claiming that some of Obama’s policies:
“… have caused concern, if not outright anger, among certain liberal commentators and bloggers. It’s been a more conventional White House than many people expected or desired. . . . He’s made compromises that have some people concerned about his adherence to principle.”
For Corn and the liberal left, he’s been much more “conventional” than expected and that bothers them. “Change” was read by them to mean much more radical change than they’ve seen. The question, of course, is were they mistaken on what they interpreted change to mean or, to extend O’Grady’s metaphor, is the reality of governing causing the liberal ship to founder? Either way the Corn contingent isn’t going to be happy.
Arrianna Huffington, among others I’m sure, spots the problem I talked about yesterday – lack of leadership:
Arianna Huffington has lamented Obama’s “lack of leadership,” asking: “How could someone with a renowned ability to inspire, communicate complex ideas, and connect with voters find himself in this position?”
For the reasons I covered yesterday, this isn’t likely to improve. And that again is because it is one thing to communicate complex ideas and another to implement them. The former takes nothing more than a competent rhetorician while the latter demands a leader.
And even Paul Krugman is getting that creepy feeling that a leadership deficit is becoming more and more evident:
“Mr. Obama was never going to get everything his supporters wanted. But there’s a point at which realism shades over into weakness, and progressives increasingly feel that the administration is on the wrong side of that line.”
So why this sudden disenchantment? As Kurtz points out, Obama’s history was known to everyone – the Krugmans, Richs, Corns and Huffingtons of this world:
It’s easy to forget, in light of Obama’s global celebrity, that five years ago he was a state senator in Illinois. Given his short tenure as a national figure, Obama finds himself having to prove, at least to the opinion-mongers, what he’s really made of. “Is He Weak?” asked a recent Jim Hoagland column, on foreign policy, in The Post.
Is he weak? Well, again, given that 5 years ago he was hanging out in the Illinois State Senate and since that he’s spent 2 years as a junior Senator in DC what would a reasonable person expect? What has he done that would indicate he’d be something else?
Of course this was all brought up prior to the election and waved away by the same pundits who are now, suddenly, finding out that their knight in shining armor is actually Don Quixote.
Now suddenly Obama isn’t living up to their expectations.
The president’s liberal critics tend to cluster around particular issues. Some see health reform as making or breaking Obama’s first term. Others are disappointed at the pace of withdrawal from Iraq, the escalation in Afghanistan and the delay in closing Guantanamo Bay. Still others argue that Obama should be leading the charge to investigate terrorism-related abuses during the Bush administration.
Of course that’s why the DoJ decision to pursue charges against the CIA is seen as a political sop to this part of Obama’s base (something which will eventually blow up in the administration’s face). But the bottom line is Obama just isn’t meeting the expectations of those who worked so hard to put him in office.
The reason for that is evident for some and becoming more evident to others. Krugman has figured it out although he can’t quite bring himself to say it and even Arrianna Huffington is beginning to understand the real problem – there’s a leadership vacuum in Washington, and it isn’t likely to be filled anytime soon. And liberals better get used to being both disappointed and disenchanted.
[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!
Politico carries a story today quoting Sen. Chris Dodd saying President Obama needs to “step up” and give Congress “more of a framework to work with on health care reform”.
Or translated into common language that everyone can understand, Dodd is saying it is time for Obama to “step up” and lead.
There’s a problem, however – Obama has never led anything. He’s not a leader although he’s in the ultimate leadership job. His background, as many pointed out ad nauseum during the campaign, isn’t one of leadership. And when he was questioned about that fact, his claimed his successful campaign for the presidency proved his leadership abilities. If that’s not an acknowledgment of a paper thin leadership resume, I don’t know what is.
It has become even more obvious in this health care debate that he lacks the attributes of a leader. His first reaction to opposition was defensive. He and many in Congress attacked those who opposed him (and that continues today).
He then went into campaign mode, not understanding that doing so doesn’t constitute leadership on an issue. Unlike a leader, he’d literally outsourced his signature agenda item to Congress. Then, without apparently realizing it, his statements during his staged townhalls were diametrically opposed to what was actually in the House bill. It ended up hurting his credibility further.
Other examples of his lack of leadership experience and skills have been evident as well. He’s been dismissive of those who oppose him, preferring to wave away or ignore their criticism. He’s rarely involved himself in the nuts and bolts of legislation thereby leaving it to the liberal leaders of Congress to fashion the legislation in their own image, not his. Consequently he’s not seen as a strong leader even by his own party – thus the comment by Dodd.
I’ve heard people say that some people are born leaders. If that is true, Barack Obama isn’t one of them. Charismatic, intelligent and charming?
My years in the military have convinced me that the vast majority of good leaders are made, not born. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I never served with one. However I have watched the development of good solid leaders throughout my career. In fact I was a part of the process, as it is the job of all leaders to train and mentor the next generation of leaders.
From the raw material of recruits and junior officers to Command Sergeants Major and Generals, these leaders were trained, tested, mentored and tested again. To gain the top rank they eventually earn they met the tests and gain the leadership experience necessary at every level to move on up the ladder one rung at a time.
Barack Obama has never been developed as a leader nor has he had to endure the tests a leader must endure. While I’m sure he’d deny it, he’s led a privileged life in which his charm, intelligence, charisma and a good helping of guile have been his primary means of advancement. And his political career has been perfectly tailored to take advantage of those attributes. Centered in the legislative branch where those are valued assets, he’s never been tasked to lead. Leadership in those venues is only vested in a few and with his short tenure at each level, leadership responsibilities were never vested in him. In general, it is one of the reasons that Senators rarely make good Presidents.
So he comes by his lack of leadership honestly – it is simply not something which was necessary in the track his life has taken to this point – but now finds himself in a real dilemma
He’s not a leader.
He really doesn’t know how to be a leader.
But he pursued and won a job that demands a set of skills he, to this point, doesn’t possess. That’s why reversion to what he knows – campaign mode – is his natural answer to “stepping up”. Given the attributes he does have, he feels that if he can just get in front of the media and the people, he can use his charm, charisma, intelligence and guile to convince them to back his agenda just as he was able to do during the election cycle.
What he doesn’t seem to realize is that’s not leadership. His days of uncontested speech loaded with glittering generalities and factual inaccuracies are over. “Feel good” transitions into “make good” when the presidency is won. Instead of talking about what can be, he’s now stuck with talking about what is. And “what is” can be fact checked.
He’s disconnected, not seeming to understand that it isn’t Congress’s job to read his mind and churn out legislation to match his desires. Instead it is his job to work with Congress to make that happen. He seems to want to reign, not lead.
As it stands now, Dodd is asking for something that Obama hasn’t the experience or ability to deliver. Of course Obama’s surrounded by smart advisers who must also understand this problem and are most likely working diligently to find some way to correct it. But again experience says leaders aren’t born or made overnight. And the presidency is far and away much to critical and demanding a job for someone to first be learning what leadership is all about and how to apply it.
[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!
Morale has sagged at the CIA following the release of additional portions of an inspector general’s review of the agency’s interrogation program and the announcement that the Justice Department would investigate possible abuses by interrogators, according to former intelligence officials, especially those associated with the program.
Wow, I can’t imagine why morale has sagged. Issues that were previously dealt with by Congress and the DOJ are now back under a microscope and somehow the agency is experiencing low morale? Who’d a thunk?
Look, I think it is pretty well known by those that read this blog what our feelings are about torture. We don’t condone it. Period.
However, as I understood it, that issue had pretty much been settled, new guidelines issued and, as a policy, apparently followed (there may be some individual incidences where that isn’t true, but policy was settled). Point made, lesson learned, new policy in place. Move ahead.
We also watched President Barack Obama assure the agency that he wasn’t interested in looking back, implying he too thought this was all settled business, but instead looking to the future – and he further assured them of his backing.
And now this. I frankly don’t understand necessity of this at all – especially when we’re engaged in two wars in which this agency’s best is necessary.
But I do understand the timing. This is a complete waste of taxpayers money, but it is a political distraction and diversion of the first level when such a distractions and diversions from the health care debacle are badly needed. The CIA is always a favorite target of the left. And it handily resurrects the liberal left’s favorite bete noir – Darth Cheney – just when a bad guy is needed. What better to take the heat off the Dems than a witch hunt involving the CIA and Dick Cheney?
Nothing is new in politics – especially new lows. This, as far as I’m concerned, ranks right there with the lowest.
The Department of Justice? New Black Panther voter intimidation case with video of the crime? Dropped. Pay-to-play corruption case against Democrat Bill Richardson? Dropped. 5 year old case involving the CIA previously settled by Congress and DoJ? Oh, let’s do that. Hard to fathom a more obviously cynically political move than that from a department supposedly dedicated to the enforcement of justice.
This too has the potential to backfire, big time.
[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!
During the last days of the Bush administration, there was a small flurry of hope among proponents of drilling for oil and gas which is off our coast. The president lifted the ban on offshore oil drilling and Congress, understanding the politics of the moment, let their ban expire. As the Washington Examiner explains, that leaves only one obstacle to the US finally going after what is thought to be about 3 billion barrels of oil and 11 trillion cubic feet of natural gas:
So the only thing keeping U.S. firms from drilling off our own continental shelf is President Barack Obama and his secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, who is slow-walking the approval process that must be cleared before the work can begin.
However, President Obama has managed to break 2 billion of your dollars loose to loan to Brazil to help bankroll their offshore drilling in the Atlantic. One assumes that will give Brazil a savings which will allow them pursue drilling in the Gulf of Mexico as well, since they are one of a number of nations pursuing oil and gas there:
Brazil, China, India, Norway, Spain and Russia have all signed agreements with Cuba and the Bahamas to initiate exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico within the next two years. So the prospect of seeing Russian oil rigs 45 miles off the Florida Keys — where American oil companies are now forbidden to drill — is a very real possibility.
That “very real possibility” would see us buying oil from the Gulf from foreign oil producers when it was just as readily available to us and our own companies.
And who would you rather produced it – US companies who have proven over the years that they have the ability to recover both oil and gas safely and in an environmentally sensitive way or foreign companies 45 miles off your coast who could give a good rip one way or the other how environmentally safe their methods were?
Then there’s the recession, jobs and the government’s hunt for revenue. This seems like a natural “shovel ready” industry that wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a nickle to crank up but would benefit the economy and the tax base:
According to the American Petroleum Institute, the development of America’s coastal oil and gas resources would generate more than $1.3 trillion in new government revenue and 160,000 high-paying jobs over the next two decades.
Instead of going full bore and trying to get this program off the ground – or in this case, in the water, we’re still piddling around trying to pass legislation:
Senators Lisa Murkowski, R-Ak., and Mary Landrieu, D-La., are bipartisan co-sponsors of a bill that provides coastal states such as Florida their fair share of revenues produced by off-shore drilling and production. The same thing should be done for states on the East and West coasts. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state’s lawmakers hope to tap deposits off Santa Barbara to generate billions in royalties, and Virginia’s front-running gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell has made drilling 50 miles off that state’s coast a key component of his energy plan.
Meanwhile foreign nations are moving to exploit resources we should have been exploiting for decades.
We have a huge looming energy gap. We’re behind the curve as it stands right now. While all the politics is focused on health care reform, this need isn’t going away and only becomes worse. Instead of “slow-walking” this, Barack Obama and Ken Salazar should be fast-tracking it and getting us out in those offshore areas to grab the most productive regions first. If we don’t, we’ll be moaning about how the percentage of oil and gas we import has gone up again.
And, as usual, that will be our own negligent fault.
[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!
Whistling past the graveyard, the White House is trying to write off its recent troubles in selling health care reform to it being nothing more than the problem of – August?
Because, you know, everyone understands that August just isn’t Obama’s month.
Obama on a recent conference call with the DNCC discussing health care:
“There’s something about August going into September where everyone in Washington gets all ‘wee-weed’ up,” the president said.
He pointed to last August’s selection of then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) to join the Republican ticket as the GOP’s vice presidential nominee.
“‘Obama’s lost his mojo,'” the president said the media were saying after Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) campaign received a short-lived bump from palin.
“You remember all that?” Obama added.
I remember it. Of course this isn’t just about “Washington” getting “all ‘wee-weed’ up” . Trying to compare an election in which people stand to be sort of obliquely effected in their everyday life by the eventual winner to the passage of legislation which would directly effect their daily life, health and liberty is the first mistake. In an election a candidate is, at most, a possible threat. In the present situation what is being proposed is a direct threat and is being considered as such.
Last August, Barack Obama was an articulate and attractive unknown. Since his inauguration, he’s anything but unknown. Trying to pretend this August is at all similar to last August and Obama will get his “mojo” back because he did so previously is foolish at best.
He’s fond of saying “this isn’t about me”. In this case he’s exactly right – and that’s why his most recent forays into the heartland to sell this “reform” have had little effect. That’s also why this August and the months that follow will be nothing like those last year.
[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!
Barack Obama editorial in the NY Times is another part of cranking up the left wing scream machine in effort to counter the detrimental effect townhall protesters have had on the Democrat’s health care grab. It is mostly appeals to emotion and the repeating of discredited talking points (to include the “AARP supports this” nonsense). But these lines especially caught my attention:
We are bound to disagree, but let’s disagree over issues that are real, and not wild misrepresentations that bear no resemblance to anything that anyone has actually proposed. This is a complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate.
They totally contradict this line within the same editorial:
I hear more and more stories like these every single day, and it is why we are acting so urgently to pass health-insurance reform this year.
This is a familiar Obama tactic. Give lip service through high sounding rhetoric about “serious debate”, but in reality be focused on “urgently pass[ing] health insurance this year” and avoiding debate. It is supposed to fool you into thinking he’s committed to debate while in reality he’s trying to push this legislation through as quickly as possible.
Serious debates are not time sensitive – they go on until the debate is settled to everyone’s satisfaction. That is not at all Obama or the Democrat’s intent.
That takes us to the most disingenuous line in the op/ed:
In the end, this isn’t about politics.
That, of course, is nonsense on stilts. In the end, this is all about politics and that point is demonstrated by the rush to pass the legislation.
If, as Obama asserts, this is about “people’s lives and livelihoods” and also a “complicated and critical issue, and it deserves a serious debate”, then you have to ask – what’s the rush? Don’t “complicated and critical issues” deserve close scrutiny and extended debate?
On the other hand, if he actually believes it is about “people’s lives and livelihoods” and we must rush to accommodate the people, why does the bulk of the proposed legislation not kick in until 2013? If it’s not about politics, why is the implementation date one year after a second term would start? How does that start date support the rhetoric about the “urgency” of the matter?
In reality, there is no final bill and there has been no real debate anyone can point too in Congress. In fact it has taken the people going to townhall meetings and passionately expressing their displeasure to start the debate.
The “not about politics” is more of the glib Obama nonsense that people are beginning to see through. This is all politics – because he and the Democrats know that if they actually have a “serious debate”, this most likely wouldn’t pass. The rush to pass it is specifically to avoid that debate, gloss over the details and get it into law while Obama still has some political capital.
That effort, as we’ve seen through the polls, is in serious trouble now and Democrats can deny that or try to wave it away until the cows come home – but that won’t change anything.
However, and again despite Barack Obama’s rhetoric to the contrary (“But let’s make sure that we talk with one another, and not over one another.“), this op/ed is an attempt to talk over the opposition, not with it. And it is beginning of an attempt by the left to ramp up an effort to talk over the townhall protesters and lessen their obvious impact which has been negative for the administration. Again, if you don’t believe that, simply read where Obama contradicts his high sounding rhetoric by doing precisely what he condemns:
In the coming weeks, the cynics and the naysayers will continue to exploit fear and concerns for political gain.
Obviously, at least according to Obama, you can’t have a valid argument against his political health care prescription, but must instead be a “cynic” or “naysayer” trying to “exploit fear” for “political gain”.
And, of course, we all know Obama and the Democrats would never do that, don’t we?
What a load of crap:
Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) claims that President Obama told him “he’s willing to be a one-term president if that’s what it takes to get health care and energy reform,” reports Radio Iowa.
Said Boswell: “The president (said), ‘I’m not going to kick the can down the road.‘ And he said that and I said, ‘Well, that’s something I’m kind of used to from southern Iowa, you know. I know about kicking the can down the road.’ And he said, ‘No, if it makes me a one-term president, I’m going to, we’re going to take it on because the country is in need of us taking this on.’ I respected that very much.”
But in the case of each issue when does it all actually take effect?
Oh, somewhere around 2013.
This is just shameless BS.
New York Magazine has an article about Barack Obama which begins:
Since occupying the White House, Barack Obama has hosted fifteen town-hall meetings; appeared in more than 800 images on the White House Flickr photo-stream; and held four prime-time press conferences, the same number held by George W. Bush in his entire presidency. He’s sent a video message to the people of Iran. He’s given an address in Cairo that was translated into fourteen languages. He’s sat on Jay Leno’s couch, where he riffed about the supreme strangeness of having his own motorcade (“You know, we’ve got the ambulance and then the caboose and then the dogsled”), and he’s walked Brian Williams through the White House, where he introduced the anchor to Bo the dog. Two weeks ago, when he made a controversial comment at a press conference (that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly” toward Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr.), he followed up with yet another press appearance in the White House briefing room—and an exclusive interview on Nightline. And that was before he sat down for a well-publicized beer with Gates and the offending officer …
Such are the president’s media habits. It’s gotten to the point where one expects to see and hear from him every day. He’s in the information business almost as much as the policy business. “This is president as content provider,” says Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman and adviser to George W. Bush. “It’s like when Rosie O’Donnell had a show and a magazine and a blog.”
The obvious and not very subtle point of Gillespie’s comment is people tired of Rosie O’Donnell rather quickly, especially when she was overexposed at that time, and her star quickly faded.
The question I’ve been pondering for some time is whether Obama risks overexposure to the point that people just start tuning him out? For a political junkie like me, I’ve mostly tuned him out already, since after listening to a couple of the town halls, I’ve realized that what’s going on with him now is not much different than during his campaign. He has a set of talking points, depending on the subject, and you can depend on him repeating them. During questions, he’ll repeat them again. Knowing the talking points, I see no need to watch them delivered again and again – especially when I know most of them are nonsense.
As things develop and more and more people who aren’t in the “political junkie” category pay closer attention, will they too end up having the same reaction I have had? Especially when they see the talking points (“your taxes won’t go up by even a dime”) turn to political dust?
And here’s another point from the article’s subtitle:
Barack Obama’s ubiquitous appearances as professor-in-chief, preacher-in-chief, father-in-chief, may turn out to be the most salient feature of his presidency.
It may indeed end up being “the most salient feature of his presidency”, but I wonder how long Americans are going to stand being lectured about almost every aspect of their lives, especially as the economy continues to tank? At what point do you suppose the majority will say, by tuning him out, “why don’t you concentrate on governing the country and we’ll take care of running our lives?”
New York Magazine, unsurprisingly, thinks that this seemingly deliberate strategy of “ubiquity” isn’t the same as overexposure and is thus a good thing:
It’s a large helping of Obama, surely. But those who think the White House has overdone it are missing the point. In today’s media environment, ubiquity is not the same as overexposure. It’s a deliberate strategy. And it’s critical to any understanding of the Obama presidency.
What they’re referring too is this country’s celebrity culture. And Barack Obama was certainly a political rock star on the campaign trail. But this premise that his “ubiquity” now is going to be a good thing seems to ignore the ubiquity of George Bush in terms of media exposure, especially in the last 4 years of his presidency. Few will argue that exposure was a “good thing” for him. Most of it, however, was media driven and mostly negative.
New York Magazine is arguing this is different (and I’d agree since much of Obama’s “ubiquity” is also media driven and mostly positive).
But just as Americans tired of George Bush, doesn’t this seeming overexposure of Barack Obama, especially this early in his presidency, risk the same will happen to him? New York Magazine may find referring to it as “ubiquity” somehow makes his constant appearances on just about every subject something other that overexposure, but I’m not ready to buy into that just yet.
I’m already tired of seeing him. I’m just wondering if the same thing will happen to the majority of my fellow citizens – and, if so, what political effect that might have.
I loved a tweet that Jon Henke sent out last night during the Obama health care press conference. It had me laughing – “Shorter Obama: you’re either with us or against us”.
In reality the press conference was the retelling of the same old nonsense. We’re going to expand the insurance system, require everyone be taken, no pre-existing conditions, no dropping you or denial of service. We’ll pay for it by finding some savings in waste, fraud and abuse, do health care delivery better than anyone else has ever done it, tax the rich and do it all – every bit of it – cheaper than it’s being done now, because we’re the government and we’re the experts in efficiency.
Tell me that wasn’t the crux of the presser? Anyone left wondering why the majority of Americans are skeptical?
And of course we had the usual canards out there. The claim that preventive medicine is cheaper than medicine as it is being practiced now. Take a moment to read this post by a doctor who lays out the con in minute detail. Here’s another view. Here’s a fact no one seems willing to deal with – the vast majority of all health care costs come in the last 6 months of life. No one has beaten death yet. Ergo that fact isn’t going to change unless the entity with the money refuses to pay up. So while preventive care may extend life, the cost of preventive care is more expensive and the end result remains the same.
As for paying for it, the whole appeal, of course, was to give the allusion to the middle class that he and the Dems were all for soaking the rich to cover the cost, even talking about how taxing millionaires met his “principle” on that.
But as Mickey Kaus points out, you have to listen carefully:
I don’t want that final one-third of the cost of health care to be completely shouldered on the backs of middle-class families who are already struggling in a difficult economy. And so if I see a proposal that is primarily funded through taxing middle-class families, I’m going to be opposed to that …
Kaus points out that those two words, in “Wash-speak” mean he’s open to a middle-class tax to pay for the “new” and “improved” health care (49% isn’t “primarily”, right?).
And then there’s the dawning understanding around much of the country that this isn’t about reforming health insurance at all (something that might be appealing to most). It is about a fundamental change in how health care is delivered. As the Republicans have begun saying, it is “experimenting” with your health care.
Can I guarantee that there are going to be no changes in the health-care delivery system? No. The whole point of this is to try to encourage changes that work for the American people and make them healthier. And the government already is making some of these decisions. More importantly, insurance companies right now are making those decisions. And part of what we want to do is to make sure that those decisions are being made by doctors and medical experts based on evidence, based on what works. Because that’s not how it’s working right now. That’s not–that’s not how it’s working right now.
Yes the government is already making some of those decisions. And the unfunded liabilities of the government system threaten to bankrupt us.
But the point remains that peppered all through the statement and answers was the phrase “health care delivery”. That is one of the things driving down the approval ratings on the legislation. Its one thing to say, “hey we’re going to eliminate pre-existing conditions, portability issues and denial of service while making sure everyone has insurance”. It is an entirely different thing to say “we’re going to tinker with and change the way your health care is delivered”.
Now suddenly the government is in territory few want it in. And that’s the overreach that Obama and the Democrats have committed that is driving the health care legislation approval numbers down. Which gets us into the politics of this.
Obama said “this isn’t about me”. But in fact it is all about him and maintaining his credibility. But his problem, as usual, is he’s outsourced his signature agenda item to Congress. Peter Wehner discusses the result:
On virtually every important issue — from the stimulus package, to cap-and-trade, to health care, to taxes, and more — Obama is ceding the agenda to the barons on Capitol Hill. And they will lead him over a cliff.
Why this is taking place is hard to know. It may be that Obama and Company are over-learning the lessons of the Clinton and Carter years, when relations with Democrats on the Hill were strained. It may be that Obama doesn’t like to immerse himself in the nitty-gritty of policy and is more comfortable deferring to those who do. It may be that the liberals on the Hill actually reflect what Obama himself — whose record as a legislator was, after all, markedly liberal — favors. It may be that Obama’s lack of experience is now showing through. Or it might be a combination of all four.
Regardless of the cause, the result will be damaging, and maybe even debilitating, to the Obama administration. All the campaign’s promises — about practicing a new brand of politics, finding middle ground, embodying hope and change — seem so old, so dated, and so cynical. Obama is turning out to be Salesman-in-Chief. But what he’s trying to peddle — an unusually liberal agenda and legislation that ranges from ineffective to downright harmful and reflects the desires of leading Congressional Democrats rather than the needs of the country — ain’t selling.
No, it’s not, thus the reason for the presser. As I pointed out yesterday, it is obvious at points he has no idea what is or isn’t in the bill. But what he does have a firm grasp on are his talking points, even if, as the days and weeks go by, they’re shot away or, at best, left hanging tattered and limp.
Speaking of politics, I love the attempt to take on the Republicans as the bad guys (one of the main Democratic talking points for days has been that the Republicans have brought no alternative to the table) and then this:
So, for example, in the HELP committee in the Senate, 160 Republican amendments were adopted into that bill, because they’ve got good ideas to contribute.
I’m not noting this with particular approval, I’m simply noting how this gives lie to the talking point.
To conclude, for anyone who has looked into the issue and followed the debate, such that is has been, Obama’s performance was anything but impressive. It was a mix of tired talking points and a con job – careful rhetoric that implied one thing while really saying something else (the middle-class tax increase being a perfect example).
But that doesn’t mean that some form of health care legislation won’t pass. I think, unfortunately, it will. And that is all about him and politics and he knows it. So do the Democrats. Clinton, Reagan, and GW Bush all passed their signature legislation before the first August recess in their first term. That isn’t going to happen in Barack Obama’s case. But he and the Democrats know that something they can call health care reform must pass or, as Obama is reported to have said, it will destroy his presidency.
To our eternal sorrow the fact that he’s right means the Democrats will do whatever is necessary to pass something to maintain his viability.
I noted the other day that the Obama administration was hiding its revised budget numbers from the public until August. Obviously, in light of the push to pass health care legislation, they don’t want anymore bad news out there than the CBO has already delivered. And, of course, there’s no doubt that had the news been good, they’d have fallen all over themselves to publish it.
That brings us to our “transparency” moment today. This will probably ring a familiar bell:
Obama administration officials have rejected a watchdog group’s request for a list of healthcare industry executives who’ve been meeting secretly in the White House with Obama staffers to discuss healthcare changes being drafted there and in Congress.
According to the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which is suspicious of the influence of health industry lobbyists and company officers, it received a letter from the Secret Service citing an Obama Justice Department directive and denying access to visitor logs under the “presidential communications privilege.”
Of course it does. But since Darth Cheney and the evil oil executives weren’t involved, my guess is it will hardly make a ripple among lefty critics of the Bush administration.
Promises, promises, this guy was all about promises, remember?
Lobbyists Write National Policies: For example, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force of oil and gas lobbyists met secretly to develop national energy policy.
Secrecy Dominates Government Actions: The Bush administration has ignored public disclosure rules and has invoked a legal tool known as the “state secrets” privilege more than any other previous administration to get cases thrown out of civil court.
But you know, the new guy would never do that. He promised!
And you remember the criticism from Democrats and the left about Bush and his signing statements? Well, guess what?
Congressional Democrats warned President Barack Obama on Tuesday that he sounded too much like George W. Bush when he declared this summer that the White House can ignore legislation he thinks oversteps the Constitution.
In a letter to the president, four senior House members said they were “surprised” and “chagrined” by Obama’s statement in June accompanying a war spending bill that he would ignore restrictions placed on aid provided to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The rebuff was reminiscent of Bush, who issued a record number of “signing statements” while in office. The statements put Congress on notice that the administration didn’t feel compelled to comply with provisions of legislation that it felt challenged the president’s authority as commander in chief.
Democrats, including Obama, sharply criticized Bush for his reliance on the statements. Obama said he would use them sparingly and only if authorized by the attorney general.
Hope and change.