Gloria Borger, although she apparently doesn’t know it, has described why Obama and the Democrats are looking at the distinct possibility of an electoral avalanche that will sweep them out of the majority in the House in November. As Borger notes, when Obama took office, it seemed it was a Democratic majority built to last for years. Now “years” is down to “two”.
She points to one reason that is typical of any politician who wins an election – they read more into their win than is actually there:
Obama was elected as the corrective to the Bush years. Yet when you’re the winner, the temptation is always there to see yourself as something more than just an alternative — something larger, like a paradigm-changer or a transformational political figure. And Obama wanted nothing less than a change from conservatism to his own brand of 21st century activism.
"When you win an election," says political scientist Bill Galston, "you are always inclined to believe you won for the reasons you wanted to win."
In other words, you believe you won for the big stuff, not just because the voters didn’t like the other guy.
Watching Obama’s fading approval numbers and the ever increasing resistance to his agenda, it becomes clear that it was mostly about ‘the other guy’.
But there’s a larger point to be made as to why Obama and the Democrats are in the electoral shape they enjoy today:
Think back to the beginning. There’s an economic crisis, which the public believes Obama inherited. Then there’s his bucket-list of things he wants to get done. He has a choice: Handle the crisis or do the campaign to-do list.
And what does Obama decide? To do both. That is, the economy plus the rest of it — including health care.
"The irony is he didn’t even run on health care," says one Democratic pollster. "In truth, it wasn’t a large part of the general election campaign."
Interesting point. “He didn’t even run on health care”. Well he mentioned it, but it wasn’t his signature campaign issue. But it sure was Nancy Pelosi and the liberal caucus’s number one priority – a wet dream they’d had all their lives. And so while the economy was melting down and should have been the single dominant issued for the White House (and Congress), Obama allowed himself to be seduced into using all his political capital for something that wasn’t that important to the American people.
Borger attempts to make excuses for Obama that simply don’t ring true and certainly don’t pass the smell test:
Obama became convinced that solving the health care mess was key to solving the nation’s economic problems, especially bringing the deficit under control. In fact, when he first spoke of the importance of health care reform, it was all about "bending the cost curve," a slogan lost on most of the public.
BS. Any sane person, with even a cursory understanding of economics, knew that the program outlined in the monstrosity that has since become known as ObamaCare had as much of a chance of “bending the cost curve” down as Togo becoming the first nation in the world to land a man on Mars. Obama’s agenda was hijacked by Pelosi, et al, and he refused to stand up to them and say, “no – it’s the economy stupid”.
Democrats instead quickly passed an ineffective trillion dollar pork laden stimulus bill guaranteed to keep unemployment under 8% (or so they claimed) and then essentially turned away from the nation’s most pressing problem – other than to occasionally give it lip service – to their pet project, health care “reform”.
Borger claims it was Obama’s “ambitious agenda” that did him in and that the agenda “fed into the GOP narrative”. Unfortunately, at the point this was done, the GOP had no narrative. They were in a state of disarray and both powerless and voiceless.
No, the “voice” came out of townhalls. The “voice” showed up at “Tea Parties”. The “voice” expressed anger and frustration.
And what the “voice” was saying and continues to say is Obama and the Democrats made the wrong choice when they chose health care reform over working on the economy.
Nothing’s really changed either. Most of it – the position Democrats are now in – isn’t a result of any GOP narrative. It isn’t even necessarily because of the bad economy. It is a result of a poor leader caving into a special interest caucus within his party and putting that caucus’s priorities in front of the people’s priority.
Pretending it was anything else is simply nonsense. Democrats are facing an electoral avalanche in November because Obama let Pelosi and Reid usurp the leadership role that was his. And now they get to pay the butcher’s bill.
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Gloria Borger, hardly a right-winger (and certainly an Obama supporter), takes Obama to task about his performance so far in the foreign policy arena:
This is not a column about whether the president should take pictures with — or shake the hands of — unstable foreign leaders who mostly call him names and rant about America.
Sometimes, it’s just unavoidable. A grimace instead of a smile on the face would be better, sure. But it’s not the end of America’s standing in the world, as some are suggesting.
But there is a problem, and it’s not about photo ops. It’s about finding the appropriate tonal response to leaders who say outrageous things about us and about our allies.
What she’s talking about are two recent incidents – one in which Obama was in attendance and the other occurred in the UN when Iran’s Amadinejad called for the destruction of Israel.
In both cases, Obama’s response was essentially a non-response.
Case in point: When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the podium at the United Nations conference in Geneva on Monday to call Israel a “cruel and repressive racist regime,” we might have said something. The European delegates walked out of the conference (we declined to attend), but when asked about the brouhaha later, the State Department spokesman, sticking to the talking points, could only muster that “that type of rhetoric is not helpful and doesn’t help facilitate a constructive dialogue.”
A bit of a chuckle there for me. You know it’s gotten bad when even the Borgers of the world are criticizing the issuance of boilerplate rhetoric in response to what the rest of the West considers to be outrageous and inflammatory words. While not exactly a non-response, the administration comes as close to one as you can with its words.
But the second incident is even worse. Here Borger is talking about Newt Gingrich’s criticism of Obama and claiming he missed his real opportunity:
But the Summit of the Americas gave them an easy opportunity to decry the president’s weakness, not only after his handshake with Chavez but also when he sat quietly through Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s 50-minute anti-American rant.
He didn’t have to walk out, but he could have given a sharper critique of Ortega’s histrionics after the event. Instead, he decided to just give it the back of his hand, saying only that “it was 50 minutes long.”
Its funny, the administration will attack any domestic critic with the full power of its spin machine. And yet, the president sits through a 50 minute anti-American tirade (after one of his advisers declared anti-Americanism was no longer cool in the world) and has no reaction at all.
Tell me, who’s job is it to defend the US if not his? Of course that’s not an easy thing to do if a president engaged in apologizing for the country at every foreign affairs opportunity, is it?