Archive for June, 2011

Delusions of Grandeur…

There were two stories that I read recently that gave me pause. Not because they said anything I did not already know, but because they demonstrate the detachment this Administration has with both the American people and reality itself.

The first was an LA Times article titled Obama shifts from consensus to instincts on key calls. At first blush, one has to chuckle. Obama’s instincts suck, mostly because the man has no experience, which is what instinct is predominantly drawn from. But alas, the writers of the LA Times felt they had something constructive to say, and what else were they going to do with the page space? It is not like advertisers are knocking down their doors. The second was a poll conducted by CBS News titled United States of Influence. The poll finds that many Americans feel alienated from government and are unhappy with Washington. I know, a true epiphany.

By themselves, they provide next to no value whatsoever as they tell us something we already know: A) Obama does not use facts or reality to make decisions and B) that Americans despise Washington politicians. It is the combination of these two articles that provides a window into the future, highlighting what November 2012 is likely going to look like, and why.

The LA Times article focuses on Obama’s decision to pull out the surge troops against the advice of most of his advisors, but particularly the Military, namely Chairman of the Joint Chiefs- Admiral Mike Mullen- and Allied Commander of International Security Forces for Afghanistan- General David Petraeus. The article goes on to state that:

“Everybody came out of that meeting knowing the president wanted to go this direction[remove Afghan surge forces],” said the official who described the scene, “even though it wasn’t the pace that Gen. Petraeus was recommending.”

A week later, last Wednesday, Obama announced plans to withdraw the 33,000 “surge” troops he sent to Afghanistan.

To some who had attended the meeting, the encounter — and the president’s willingness to overrule key advisors — brought to mind another meeting four and a half months earlier.

This meeting of four and a half months earlier was the reaction to the Arab uprising in Egypt. Specifically, Obama’s decision to call for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down. I wrote on this then here, here, and here, pointing out that the options of this decision were not very good. And I was right as anyone who has been following Egypt’s sectarian violence against Christians and dramatic growth in Muslim Brotherhood political capital can attest. But this statement is what caught me off guard: “The change, which came into view with the Egypt decision in February, was vividly on display in the meetings that led to the decision to send a team of Navy SEALs to raid Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.”  What? These two things have absolutely nothing in common. In fact, I’m so jaded with this Administration that I’m convinced that the only reason Obama approved the operation to kill bin Ladin was that he thought it would carry him through his re-election. Seriously. So, to see some effort to logically connect the two is humorous at first, but frustrating in the long run. However, it provides context into the man-child’s thinking.

Which brings us to the CBS News poll.

 

Not surprisingly, the numbers are not good and reflect an electorate that is extremely upset over the current condition in America. But why?

 

Well, when YOU are in the top three of things to be angry about, that should be somewhat concerning. This is why one of the best Presidential polls to track is Rasmussen’s Daily Presidential Tracking Poll, which tracks those that strongly agree against those that strongly disagree with the President. The premise, and a good one I think, is that those who feel strongly either way will be most likely to vote, donate, volunteer, etc, for or against the President. The poll has been a leading indicator for some time vis a vis Obama, and has had him in negative territory (more strongly disagree than strongly agree) since June of 2009… when Obamacare was forced upon the nation.

So in one hand we have Obama thinking that he alone is the solution to the woes of the nation, and in the other hand we have the nation counting Obama as one of the problems. How ironic.

While driving home the other day, Sean Hannity- who I sometimes listen to in the afternoon- had Dick Morris on his show and Sean stated that he thought it interesting that Obama, whom everyone thought would move to the center after such a disastrous mid-term election cycle, was not moving to the center but was in fact going left. Morris had a very interesting response. He said that Obama likely thinks that there are more liberals than there are conservatives (even though this is demonstrably false) and that he needs to re-energize this base with what they want, which is more liberals positions. Morris believes Obama bases this premise off of 2008, so in his calculus of political action, more government is better than less government because more is what the “base” wants. So what he is saying is that Obama is delusional.

Let us clear some stuff up from 2008. First, Obama ran against what I think is quite possibly the worst run Presidential campaign in modern history against a candidate that has essentially trademarked himself on not having a base position on anything. Secondly, the American people were scared. They were staring at economic collapse, jobs were disappearing, banks were failing, homes were being taken away- there was a true sense of economic panic going on.

And then the carpet-bagger-in-chief showed up. Yet, even he requires context. For all of its cons, the American Presidential run is one of the most vetting experiences ever. By the time November rolls around, we know the candidates likes, dislikes, friends, enemies, successes, failures, positions and ideology. This did not happen with Obama. Without a doubt, Obama has been the most unvetted, unknown candidate for President since the invent of modern communications. So, when Obama starts selling Hope and Change (which really should have been carpetbagger clue #1), a terrified populace perceiving no viable alternative decided to take a gamble. We lost.

So as Morris points out, Obama sees 2008 as proof that the country is more liberal and that he is the unique answer to what the American people need and want- even if they are not smart enough to realize it. I think Morris may be on to something here, and I don’t think it is limited to Obama. The left in general seems to be under this twisted perception that America is a left-of-center nation. On the cusp of another recession, we have Dems calling for higher taxes and more spending, even though unemployment is up 25%, the national debt is up 35% and gas is up 105% under Obama. Shovel ready not being so shovel ready is becoming a euphemism for so many other things this Administration has failed on.

Contrary to what the left might think, November 2010 was not an anomaly, unique to a moment in time. The Tea Party is but the expression of a greater manifestation in this nation, and that manifestation is that we, as a people, need to reaffirm our control of the government and its action, holding such accountable for their failings. While some on the left are beginning to break out of the malaise, the bulk of liberals are under the misguided perception that they are what this nation needs, or even wants. No, no you are not, and November 2010 should have been your first clue towards that.

 

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This Travesty Won’t Go On for Much Longer

My friend and blogging colleague Rutherford Lawson felt the need to apply a liberal perspective to the GOP debate the other night. Needless to say, it was underwhelming.

 However, in response to his treatise on the failings of everyone else, I thought I would respond with the pithy analysis of Daniel Flynn over at Human Events. Several of us have consistently tried to get ole Rutherford to defend this Administration based on its accomplishments. He has yet to do so. Since we can’t get him to defend the positive, maybe he can defend against the negative.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Flynn:

 

 

 

Less than two months ago, buzzing from the president’s gutsy call to eliminate Osama bin Laden, liberal pontificators had practically sworn in Barack Obama for his second term. “For the GOP the sands are rushing through the hourglass,” Roger Simon wrote in a column whose title had wondered whether the president was “invincible.” He claimed that with Geronimo KIA, “the Republican field has been fried like an egg.” In reality, the president’s short-term popularity boost had fried the long-term judgment of his supporters.

The reasons to believe Obama a one-term president are many and well-grounded.

10. The Declaration of Independents

Candidate Obama attracted independents. President Obama repulses them. The president entered office with the approval of 62 percent of independents. The latest Gallup poll shows support of just 42 percent of independents. Similarly, the political moderates key to his election have deserted the president as immoderate policies have emerged. There simply aren’t enough liberals for Democrats to lose moderates and win elections. No Democratic candidate over the last half century has won the presidency without winning moderates. 

9. A Redder America

Barack Obama faces a redder electoral map than he did in 2008. The 2012 presidential election is more than a year away, but the Electoral College has already shifted twelve votes away from blue states and toward red states. Most of the states gaining electoral votes in the census reapportionment voted for McCain. Almost all of the states losing electoral votes voted for Obama. Even the states that Obama carried that added electoral votes—Nevada and Florida, to name two—don’t seem locks to go for the president in 2012. The loss of electoral votes isn’t fatal to Obama. It is a handicap.

8. The Issues Have Changed

Gallup’s “Monthly Most Important Problem” survey is a problem for the president. What is troubling the American people? Over the first five months of 2011, Americans point to the economy (29%), unemployment (26%), the deficit (13%), and government (11%). The issues most salient to voters uniformly work to the incumbent’s disadvantage. When Iraq, health care, and Republican mishandling of the economy mattered to voters, Obama could go on the offensive. It’s difficult to see how he scores points in 2012 on the issues that resonate with voters. He will be on his heels.
7. The Blank Canvass Isn’t Anymore

Other than William Jennings Bryan and Wendell Willkie, who is the major party nominee with a skimpier record than 2008’s Barack Obama? He could vote “present” in the Illinois legislature and run away from U.S. Senate votes while running for higher office. But presidents can’t remain blank slates for long. Unpopular ObamaCare, a sedative stimulus, ineptness in the face of the BP oil spill, and defiance of Congress in starting a third Middle Eastern war have all painted a presidential picture that has calcified conservative opposition, alienated moderates, and disillusioned liberal supporters.

6. Demoralized Liberals

Left-wing activist Ralph Nader encourages a primary challenge. Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich sues the administration over Libya. Netroots conference goers boo White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer. Rather than rejoice at a universal health-care bill that eluded predecessors or the introduction of open homosexuality in the military, liberals decry Obama for retaining Bush-era tax rates, playing warden over Guantanamo Bay, and launching a new war in Libya. Never can Democrats satiate their cannibalistic base. If you think this is an overstatement, feel free to examine the teeth marks on the political carcasses of Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Johnson. Leftists may not primary this president or siphon votes through a suicidal third-party bid. But neither will they work or give at the levels they did in 2008.

5. Energized Conservatives

After eight years of big-government Bush, an underwhelming primary field, and a sclerotic general election campaign, conservatives could be given a mulligan for sleepwalking through the last presidential election. Conservatives, just 34 percent of the electorate in 2008’s election, comprised 42 percent of voters in 2010. From tea-parties to raucous town halls, the political dynamic of the country has been altered. It showed in 2010, when Republicans added 63 House seats, seven Senate seats, and six governors. Nothing invigorates a party’s base like an aggressive ideologue of the opposing party occupying the White House. The GOP clearly has the momentum heading into 2012.

4. The Political Ground Has Shifted Beneath the President’s Feet

A political lifetime has elapsed since Barack Obama’s election. Bailouts and big-government have yielded to tea parties and deficit angst. Gallup’s ideological identification survey registered the highest percentage of liberals in its history the year of Barack Obama’s election. Gallup’s most recent ideological identification survey registered its highest percentage of conservatives since the inaugural 1992 poll. Between the 2008 survey and last year’s, conservatives have gained seven points vis-à-vis liberals. To know liberalism isn’t to love it.

 

3. Historic Turnouts Aren’t Every-Four-Year Occurrences

Obama surfed to victory in 2008 on the crest of two historic waves. African Americans constituted a larger percentage of the electorate than ever recorded. And young people voted for the Democratic candidate by the greatest margin ever. Two-thirds of 18-to-29 year olds cast ballots for Obama. A staggering 19 out of every 20 African American voters pulled the lever for Obama. The precarious foundation of the Democrat’s election rested on the remarkable turnout, and the amazing one-sidedness, of two constituencies—African Americans and young people—who traditionally stay home on Election Day. That both groups have been hit especially hard by the economic slump makes it hard to envision a repeat of the amazing African American turnout and one-sided youth vote.   

2. A Low Ceiling

Roger Simon wondered if the president was “invincible” in the wake of killing bin Laden. More perceptive observers saw vulnerability. Counterintuitively, the assassination of America’s most reviled enemy revealed Barack Obama’s political weaknesses, not his strengths. The president’s weekly Gallup approval average topped out at 51 percent following the bin Laden operation. The best possible week of Obama’s presidency yielded barely half of the electorate’s support. His enemies should acknowledge the man has a floor of support. His supporters should acknowledge he has a ceiling, too.

1. It’s Still the Economy, Stupid

The Misery Index, popularized by Governor Carter to hound President Ford only to be President Carter’s undoing, haunts Democrats again. The combined unemployment and inflation rates are at their worst level in twenty-eight years. The stock market has just spent six weeks in the red. The GDP grows at an anemic rate of 1.8 percent. The housing market has been in shambles for five years, and seems to be double dipping. Debt approaches GDP. Flat-lining and nose-diving trend lines make the president’s reelection precarious. Even a browbeaten Bill Daley, the president’s chief of staff, conceded to an incensed National Association of Manufacturers convention, “Sometimes you can’t defend the indefensible.” He said it. 

Barack Obama is a formidable campaigner. His presidency is not without accomplishment (see, Osama bin Laden). And occupants of the White House have lost general elections just five times in the last hundred years. But he has governed ineffectively and stubbornly against the wishes of the American people. He could win reelection. But the preponderance of indicators suggests his defeat. This should make conservatives hopeful for change.

UPDATE: June 30, 2011

New story, same message- it’s and uphill climb in the dark for the Administration.

 

AGAINST THE GRAIN

Nerves Show on Team Obama

Recent scrambling by the president’s political advisers indicates they’re very worried about his reelection chances.

Updated: June 30, 2011 | 8:59 a.m.
June 28, 2011 | 9:30 p.m.

It’s been a rough June for the White House. Instead of being able to run a campaign taking credit for economic improvement, President Obama will, according to the latest forecasts, be trying to win four more years amid a grim economy next year. The president’s reelection team, once hoping to run on a “Morning in America” theme now doesn’t have that luxury.  No wonder, the president’s advisers over the past month have been making moves that suggest they’re awfully concerned about his prospects: 

1. Searching for an economic message. Veteran Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg recently offered perceptive advice to the president’s team by criticizing its “getting the car out of the ditch” metaphor meant to suggest the economy is slowly improving.  As Greenberg wrote: “People thought they still were in the ditch.”

This is a time when the president needs to find his inner Bill Clinton, and feel Americans’ pain.  If he wants to be one of the few presidents to win reelection in a stagnant economy, he’ll have to devote less time to defending past policies, like the auto bailout, and more to offering specific solutions to help people get back to work. Think a 21st century version of FDR’s fireside chats.

But there are few signs that the president’s economic messaging has changed. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recently said Democrats own the economy, but they don’t seem to be adapting their message to the bad economy likely to face them in November 2012. 

2. Doubling down on manufacturing. The latest White House effort to wring good news out of a bad economy focuses on successes in the manufacturing sector: the auto bailout that put GM and Chrysler on sounder footing, as well as green initiatives.

Politically, it’s a puzzling message.  While there has been a small uptick in manufacturing jobs, it’s hardly enough to be felt by the blue-collar electorate, who have been bearing the brunt of the recession and never viewed Obama too favorably in the first place. The latest Gallup weekly tracking poll shows Obama’s approval with college graduates at 51 percent, with a 40 percent approval among nongraduates.

The president’s emphasis on green jobs doesn’t help. It’s tough for many steelworkers to see themselves producing solar panels. Clean-energy jobs may be the future, but they’re not seen by displaced workers as a panacea.

Instead, Obama’s key to winning reelection is solidifying his support with college-educated whites, a swing demographic that has been more receptive to his message, along with high turnout among minorities. His key to victory is rallying white-collar professionals in swing-state suburbs, like Fairfax/Loudoun County, Va.; Wake County, N.C.; Franklin County, Ohio; Bucks County, Pa.; Clark County, Nev.—none hotbeds of manufacturing.

3. Fresh fundraising concerns. With a strong connection to the grassroots and expertise with social networking, President Obama’s reelection team mastered the art of hitting up small donors in the 2008 campaign.

But there are telltale signs that the grassroots army that propelled him is in a much less giving mood. It’s not a huge surprise; the bad economy has hit Obama’s small donors too. When you’re having trouble paying the bills, you’re not exactly pining to pitch in hard-earned money to help a powerful president.

A sign Team Obama is looking elsewhere: A Los Angeles Times report that Obama’s reelection team is already asking wealthy donors to commit the maximum $75,800 to the president’s campaign funds.  

If Obama’s re-election starts looking more difficult next year, donors may well be inclined to give to the Democratic Senate and House campaign arms, seeing them as the better investment.  But if they’re locked in with early maximum donations to the president’s re-election, that won’t be doable.

4. Raising the stakes in the upper South. Obama’s strategists are raising the stakes in the two battleground upper South states, North Carolina and Virginia.

They’ve never been critical cogs in a presidential strategy. If Team Obama sees them as such in 2012, it suggests the campaign is struggling in states that were comfortably on its side in 2008, particularly those in the Rust Belt. 

When I interviewed leading Democratic and Republican strategists about the states toughest for Obama to hold, most were pessimistic about his prospects in North Carolina, a state that he won by just 14,000 votes.

Publicly, his strategists are arguing that the Tar Heel State’s growing numbers of college-educated suburbanites and minorities plays to Obama’s advantage. It’s no coincidence the Democrats are holding next year’s convention in Charlotte.

But if North Carolina looks like a challenge, Virginia looks within Obama’s grasp. Unemployment in the Old Dominion is far lower than most battleground states, and the growth of government jobs in the Washington, D.C., suburbs and a diversifying population play to the Democrats’ favor.

Not everyone on the Democratic side is as optimistic, however. One senior Democratic operative involved with key Virginia races believes Obama would need an African-American turnout close to his historic 2008 levels to win—a tough task in a down economy.

“When folks start to depend on recreating a specific snapshot in time, it is most always a disappointment,” the strategist said.