Team Obama Is Rejecting Advice of Nervous Democrats
Thanks for the advice. But no thanks.
That seems to be the response of Team Obama to Democrats who are increasingly nervous about Democratic — and Barack Obama’s — election prospects. They want him to move from defending his first term to lay out in specifics what he’d do in a second term. Talking Points Memo:
Appearing on several Sunday talk shows, senior White House adviser David Plouffe doubled down on the president’s message: After eight years of Republican rule culminating in the financial crisis, the nation is now on the right track to recovery.
Democrats’ concerns have been on display over the last week.
“I’m worried that when the White House or the campaign talks about the progress that’s being made, people take that as a signal that they think that things are fine and people don’t feel they ought to believe that,” Democratic strategist James Carville said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
Carville is the co-author of a memo, along with Democratic pollsters Stan Greenberg and Erica Siefert, which uses findings from focus groups to argue that the president needs to articulate a vision moving forward with “minimal discussion of the recovery and jobs created and maximal empathy for the challenges people face.”
Democratic pollster Peter Hart conducted two focus groups and came up with a similar finding. “[The public] need a sense of a vision, they need a sense of hope,” Hart wrote, “they need to be able to see that it’s not just the old Obama giving them the charisma and the cool.”
But the Obama team isn’t fazed. On “Fox News Sunday,” Plouffe argued that Carville and his chorus of Democrats are wrong.
“Those other Democrats are not paying attention to what the president is saying,” Plouffe told host Chris Wallace. “Which is every day, not just in what he says but what he does, he understands our economy is not as strong as it needs to be, that this didn’t happen overnight, it’s going to take us a long time to recover, there’s a lot of people out there hurting. So we are making progress and we need to make a lot more.”
Plouffe’s retort did exactly what the critics warn the campaign not to do: focus on the president’s economic record for his first term, rather than what he would do in a second term.
On “Meet The Press,” Plouffe denied that Democrats were panicking after a few rough weeks and poor economic news. But he called on Democrats to quit the “hand wringing” and focus on winning the election. What Democrats and any other supporters of the president need to do, Plouffe said, “is work like heck to win this election. That’s where we need our energy focused. Not on kind of some of the hand wringing that sometimes occurs in our party.”
Actually, it is not hand wringing. It’s criticism that if Americans feel the economy is still lousy explaining that it really isn’t as lousy as they feel isn’t going to win an election: Obama needs to say precisely what he’ll do in the next term, and outline what he feels is at stake in this election. A little, teeny weenie thing Democrats don’t stress enough and many liberal Democrats prefer to ignore on election day is the make up of the Supreme Court. Republicans such as pundit George Will aren’t forgetting about it — but Democrats seem to forget.
It could be that on election day when they look at the results Obama and Democratic Party voters who stayed home to punish their party because Obama wasn’t liberal enough will be singing this song as they try to brace themselves for the major, historical changes that will occur as many GOPers get to dismantle yet more parts of the New Deal, Great Society and complete the process of transforming the Supreme Court: