Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster, said polling data showed that at this point in his term, Mr. Obama, compared with past Democratic presidents, was doing as well or better with Democratic voters. “Whatever qualms or questions they may have about this policy or that policy, at the end of the day the one thing they’re absolutely certain of — they’re going to hate these Republican candidates,” Mr. Mellman said. “So I’m not honestly all that worried about a solid or enthusiastic base.”With this the Establishment at the New York Times seems to be saying - don't worry in the end the Republicans will scare the Democratic base back into line.
Yet again the folks at the New York Times just don't get - sadly to see a reporter that does we have to head over to the Wall Street Journal in an article published today by Peggy Noonan. She begins her piece with a couple of paragraphs about how the Republican Establishment has finally gotten hold to the nutcases in the Tea Bagger Caucus and how the Elites had saved the Tea Baggers from destroying themselves. She then turns her attention to Obama and writes with a clarity I have yet to see in the New Your Times:
"As this is written, the White House seems desperate to be seen as consequential. They're trotting out Press Secretary Jay Carney, who stands there looking like a ferret with flop sweat as he insists President Obama is still at the table, still manning the phones and calling shots. Much is uncertain, but the Republicans have made great strides on policy. If they emerge victorious, they had better not crow. The nation is in a continuing crisis, our credit rating is not secure, and no one's interested in he-man gangster dialogue from "The Town." What might thrill America would be a little modesty: "We know we helped get America into some of this trouble, and we hope we've made some progress today in getting us out of it."Why no one at the New York Times can see this is beyond me. Perhaps they are so co-opted by the Democratic Establishment that they can't see clearly? Who knows. However, it is sad that we have to go to the pages of a radical right rag, the Wall Street Journal, to get some decent analysis of the disaster known as President Obama.
But that actually is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about something that started to become apparent to me during the debt negotiations. It's something I've never seen in national politics.
It is that nobody loves Obama. This is amazing because every president has people who love him, who feel deep personal affection or connection, who have a stubborn, even beautiful refusal to let what they know are just criticisms affect their feelings of regard. At the height of Bill Clinton's troubles there were always people who'd say, "Look, I love the guy." They'd often be smiling—a wry smile, a shrugging smile. Nobody smiles when they talk about Mr. Obama. There were people who loved George W. Bush when he was at his most unpopular, and they meant it and would say it. But people aren't that way about Mr. Obama. He has supporters and bundlers and contributors, he has voters, he may win. But his support is grim support. And surely this has implications.
The past few weeks I've asked Democrats who supported him how they feel about him. I got back nothing that showed personal investment. Here are the words of a hard-line progressive and wise veteran of the political wars: "I never loved Barack Obama. That said, among my crowd who did 'love' him, I can't think of anyone who still does." Why is Mr. Obama different from Messrs. Clinton and Bush? "Clinton radiated personality. As angry as folks got with him about Nafta or Monica, there was always a sense of genuine, generous caring." With Bush, "if folks were upset with him, he still had this goofy kind of personality that folks could relate to. You might think he was totally misguided but he seemed genuinely so. . . . Maybe the most important word that described Clinton and Bush but not Obama is 'genuine.'" He "doesn't exude any feeling that what he says and does is genuine."
Maybe Mr. Obama is living proof of the political maxim that they don't care what you know unless they know that you care. But the idea that he is aloof and so inspires aloofness may be too pat. No one was colder than FDR, deep down. But he loved the game and did a wonderful daily impersonation of jut-jawed joy. And people loved him.
The secret of Mr. Obama is that he isn't really very good at politics, and he isn't good at politics because he doesn't really get people. The other day a Republican political veteran forwarded me a hiring notice from the Obama 2012 campaign. It read like politics as done by Martians. The "Analytics Department" is looking for "predictive Modeling/Data Mining" specialists to join the campaign's "multi-disciplinary team of statisticians," which will use "predictive modeling" to anticipate the behavior of the electorate. "We will analyze millions of interactions a day, learning from terabytes of historical data, running thousands of experiments, to inform campaign strategy and critical decisions."
This wasn't the passionate, take-no-prisoners Clinton War Room of '92, it was high-tech and bloodless. Is that what politics is now? Or does the Obama re-election effort reflect the candidate and his flaws?
Mr. Obama seemed brilliant at politics when he first emerged in 2004. He understood the nation's longing for unity. We're not divided into red states and blue, he said, we're Big Purple, we can solve our problems together. Four years later he read the lay of the land perfectly—really, perfectly. The nation and the Democratic Party were tired of the Clinton machine. He came from nowhere and dismantled it. It was breathtaking. He went into the 2008 general election with a miraculously unified party and took down another machine, bundling up all the accrued resentment of eight years with one message: "You know the two losing wars and the economic collapse we've been dealing with? I won't do that. I'm not Bush."
The fact is, he's good at dismantling. He's good at critiquing. He's good at not being the last guy, the one you didn't like. But he's not good at building, creating, calling into being. He was good at summoning hope, but he's not good at directing it and turning it into something concrete that answers a broad public desire.
And so his failures in the debt ceiling fight. He wasn't serious, he was only shrewd—and shrewdness wasn't enough. He demagogued the issue—no Social Security checks—until he was called out, and then went on the hustings spouting inanities. He left conservatives scratching their heads: They could have made a better, more moving case for the liberal ideal as translated into the modern moment, than he did. He never offered a plan. In a crisis he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it.
So he is losing a battle in which he had superior forces—the presidency, the U.S. Senate. In the process he revealed that his foes have given him too much mystique. He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser."
UPDATE: I have been challenged about use of the term "tea bagger" - frankly I had no idea about the controversy. See "The evolution of the word 'tea bagger'" for a brief intro into the issue. However, if Andrew Britbart likes the term 'tea bagger' who am I to argue?
I'd be happy to adopt any term for that group that is deemed socially acceptable. If I wanted to insult them I'm more than capable of that without making illusions to male genitalia.
Some have also complained about my citing an article by Peggy Noonan. I'm not saying that Noonan got Obama 100% right rather I'm saying she has done a better analysis of him and how he is perceived in the Country than anything I've seen in the NY Times. And her last paragraph:
So he is losing a battle in which he had superior forces—the presidency, the U.S. Senate. In the process he revealed that his foes have given him too much mystique. He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser.is sadly spot on. That one fact more than anything else will nail him in 2012.
Clearly Obama's Presidency is over - while I can't decide if we are in this state because Obama is a coward or because he a corporatist flunky that has always wanted to attack the programs of the New Deal he is now perceived as a man who will cave to blackmailers. That not a label you want to wear while running for President.