2012: Obama’s First Term Won’t ‘Fire Up’ His Base
President Obama boldly proclaimed Wednesday that he had fulfilled his most daring but abstract 2008 campaign pledge: “Change we can believe in.” Obama told a gathering of top donors and Democratic officials that, while his work is not finished, “we have made extraordinary progress over these last two years.” – Obama in campaign mode: ‘Delivered on change that we can believe in’
WASHINGTON — Back in January I did a column about Democratic identification in the era of Obama. It was grim, very, very grim. In fact, Democratic Party I.D. according to Gallup is at a 22-year low. If that’s delivering on “change we can believe in,” well, Barack Obama’s got a different definition from every Democrat, liberal and progressive I know. In fact, the “extraordinary progress” Pres. Obama is touting amounts to capitulation, caving and conservatism from every angle.
Back in January I did a column about Democratic identification in the era of Obama. It was grim, very, very grim. In fact, Democratic Party I.D. according to Gallup is at a 22-year low.
So when the AP’s Charles Babington did a piece yesterday entitled “Obama Team Looks For New Ways To Fire Up President’s Base,” it didn’t come as a surprise.
… Obama acknowledged the challenge last week in Boston. “Somebody asked me, how do we reinvigorate the population, the voter, after two very tough years?” he told Democratic donors. “How do we recapture that magic that got so many young people involved for the very first time in 2008?”
One answer, the president said, is to persuade hardcore liberals to swallow their anger over political compromises the administration reached with Republicans, even when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress.
[...] Some Democrats say they may need luck to replicate the passionate turnout of Obama’s first campaign. The often-stated claim that voters would embrace the health care law once it began taking effect has proven mostly untrue. But another year may change that, these Democrats say.
For now, the Obama team is unveiling few new ideas specifically keyed to firing up core constituencies. A recent White House conference call urged young voters to hold roundtables, which administration officials may attend, to discuss priorities and offer feedback.
Beyond that, Obama eventually plans large rallies similar to those in 2008. They create showy spectacles that excite young voters, but they also serve a fundraising role. People who enter the stadiums or buy Obama T-shirts are asked to provide their names and contact information, which are used later to request donations and volunteer activities. [...]
The only “luck” Pres. Obama and his reelection team can hope to get is that Sarah Palin is the nominee, something that is currently being battled out between Rush Limbaugh and the Republican establishment.
It’s long past time to disabuse camp Obama of any delusions they may have about replicating the “passionate turnout of Obama’s first campaign.” Not going to happen.
No one has done more to obliterate the Democratic brand more than Pres. Obama, which in turn has annihilated the passion once felt for candidate Obama.
A health care bill “accomplishment” that now requires wavers for companies, with the President even going soft on the absurd mandate that should never have been written into it considering the Affordable Care Act was a conglomeration of private insurance giveaways that amounted to a monopolized trap for the American public. There are some good things amidst the junk, but the fact that Democrats didn’t just pass those and instead stuck us with a monstrosity derisively named “ObamaCare” reveals their legislative incompetence.
That Pres. Obama missed an opportunity to make his first term about a real energy independence shot proves further he has no vision except what unfolds through time. Not even Japan’s nuclear catastrophe has changed his mind on nuclear energy, even as we find Japan being far too conservative with their estimates on just how bad things are over there.
There was also the Democratic nonchalance that allowed Stupak-Pitts to win out over the women who regularly elect Democrats, which was just another insult delivered by Obama through an unneeded Executive Order that has emboldened states across the country to target women. That it all began at the hands of the first female Speaker of the House, who was once a vaunted darling of the liberal feminist crowd, is an added insult.
One of the main pluses about “ObamaCare” is that it has tied Mitt Romney in knots, because Democrats basically created an evil twin to “RomneyCare,” which still could be a real problem for Romney in the primaries. However, if Romney can get through the primaries that’s another story. As a very well connected Democrat told me recently, Barack Obama has never faced a “politically competent Republican,” which is what makes Mitt Romney so dangerous. It’s also likely why Chris Cilizza wrote his piece about conservatives moving over to Mitt.
Then there is Pres. Obama’s bipartisanship fig leaf covering his corporate soul that let Wall Street off the hook and too big to fail still a reality. The appointment of Bill Daley sealed the deal, which also sent the message that when it comes to importance, firing up the base to Obama actually means the money men and women, not progressives and liberals, who are last in line just after independents.
The 2010 midterms were delivered to the Right because Pres. Obama never could quite figure out what the election was about for Democrats. Besides, he’d been moving Right since his inauguration, because his natural place on the political dial is Right.
Then in December, after refusing to make the tax argument for November, Pres. Obama led the Democrats to cave on Bush tax cut extensions that added to the deficit while not solving squat, but in the process had Democrats embracing the voodoo economics of Republicanism that tax cuts solve economic woes. It didn’t faze Barack Obama one iota that this simple act of embracing tax cut economics obliterated 10 years of work by Democrats, not to mention ignored what Bill Clinton accomplished in the ’90s by raising taxes. (You’d think Reagan finally sucking it up to raise taxes would have been an inspiration for Obama.)
On top of all of this is Pres. Obama’s vacillating on any number of issues from DADT to Afghanistan to Gitmo, not to mention his incomprehensible lack of leadership during the BP oil disaster, which is never mentioned, nor was Sect. Ken Salazar’s ineptitude ever addressed.
There is no one I know who can explain just what Pres. Obama stands for as a Democrat. He even concocted the debt commission in order to handle Social Security on the sly, which any political analyst worth his or her salt knows Obama can’t touch before 2012, but which anyone with half a brain should realize he will tinker with if reelected.
None of this, however, has inspired so called progressives to challenge Pres. Obama with a primary opponent. That’s because of the fear of what African American voters would do, as if that’s a good enough reason to challenge any sitting president, regardless of race, if he has screwed up so badly as to now render the words Democratic Party meaningless.
What is it that Lawrence O’Donnell says? Some things are worth fighting for even if you lose.
In the era of Obama, his worth is seen as more important than the principles the Democratic Party has stood for since F.D.R.
Pres. Obama’s reelection depends on Republicans choosing from the current crop of lame-ass candidates currently in the news, any of whom he can beat as things stand right now.
I just don’t see Obama’s base from 2008 getting fired up, with many who voted in ’08 not even going to show up. Who can blame them?
As for disgruntled Democrats and progressives, oh, they’ll vote in 2012. But that’s thanks to the Democrats in Wisconsin and other states who are showing spine Barack Obama lacks. However, the likelihood that these same Democrats won’t bother to vote for Obama for president is very real.
Taylor Marsh is a political analyst, writer and commentator on national politics. A veteran national politics writer, Taylor’s been writing on the web since 1996. She has reported from the White House, been profiled in the Washington Post, The New Republic, and has been seen on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera Arabic, as well as on radio across the dial and on satellite, including the BBC. Marsh lives in the Washington, D.C. area. This column is cross posted from her blog.