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Ow, my head hurts



Obama is heading into a re-election campaign with plans to step up his attacks against an unpopular Congress, concluding that he cannot pass any major legislation in 2012 because of Republican hostility toward his agenda, according to a senior White House official.

 Here’s what I don’t understand.  Why wasn't it obvious, by the time of the passage of the health care reform act, that Obama would not be able to pass any major legislation in 2011? They compromised from the start, typically, by adopting a Republican plan – it was Romneycare before it was Obamacare – and the Republicans chose to oppose their own policy.   When the Republicans took the house in the fall of 2010, and Mitch McConnell declared it was the party’s top goal to deny Obama a second term, why was the lesson, in Obama’s mind, that Democrats needed to move in the Republcans’ direction?  Hadn’t that strategy been completely discredited by then?

Why has it taken three years for Obama to realize that he has no good faith bargaining partner on the other side?  Has he realized, even now, that he never did?

The culprit seems to be David Plouffe, and his reasoning seems to have been the point the journalist makes halfway through the article: “For Mr. Obama, a heavily partisan strategy carries the risk of alienating independent and moderate voters who are fed up with Washington’s gridlock.”  There are a number of things that are obviously wrong with this.

First, there is no such thing as the independent and moderate voter.  The voters who swing back and forth from election to election are “low information” voters who have no idea how anything works or who stands for what.  If you ask them what they look for in a candidate, they will invariably tell you that they look for someone who stands up for what he believes in.  In other words, the best description is that they are persuadable.  And for the last 30 years, Democrats have been failing to stand up to Republican overreach and have continually given ground to Reaganomics.  They do not make the case for Democratic principles to the persuadable.  In other words, they’ve made no effort to capture the voters they want to capture, because they’ve misdescribed them.

The other thing the Obama team doesn’t understand about “independent and moderate voters who are fed up with Washington’s gridlock” is that if they care at all about Washington gridlock, it’s secondary to a concern with jobs.  If the average voter were presented with a choice between getting a job that’s the result of bipartisanship and getting a  job that’s the result of Democrats ramming through their agenda in the most partisan way imaginable, that voter . . . would not give a shit either way.  It’s the job, not the way it’s legislated. 

But the only thing that was ever going to persuade the Obama crew that they’ve been on a fool’s errand is what’s finally happened.  They ran out of other options.  Everything they tried to get anything done has run into a concrete pillar, and they’ve finally decided to walk around it instead of repeatedly bashing their heads into it. 


Sat, December 31, 2011 | link

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