Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Democratic enthusiasm (or complacency) for the 2012 election

Lots of Democratic activists and even professionals seem to have talked themselves into thinking that President Obama is a shoo-in for re-election in 2012. The attitude seems to be some combination of how appalling the Republican field looks to Democrats, the passing patriotic enthusiasm over killing Osama bin Laden before returning immediately to your regularly scheduled War on Terror, and a burst of that famous 2008 hope when Obama managed to sound like an aggressive Democrat in criticizing Congressman Paul Ryan's proposal to abolish Medicare.

Jed Lewison indulges some of that 2012 triumphalism in And the winners of the second Republican primary debate are... Daily Kos 06/14/2011. He continues in the text with the answer:

...Sarah Palin, for still being the most "dynamic" potential 2012er out there, and Barack Obama, for knowing that short of a Palin or Perry candidacy, he's going to be facing off against one of the unelectable clowns who took the stage last night.
At this point, assuming that even as Republican as kooky as Michelle Bachmann can't be elected President in 2012 is more hopeful than reality-based calculation. The economy still is in bad shape, and we may be facing a double-dip. For most job-seekers, they are still in the same old dip that began in 2007.

Although Robert Reich continues to advocate a partial payroll tax holiday that I think is a disastrous idea for the fight to save Social Security and Medicare, he's correct in Of Snake Oil, Puff Balls, and the Need for a Real Jobs Plan from the President 06/13/2011 when he sounds the alarm about the politics of a bad economy:

Doesn't the White House get it? The President has to have a bold jobs plan, with specifics. Why not exempt the first $20,000 of income from payroll taxes for the next year? Why not a new WPA for the long-term unemployed, and a Civilian Conservation Corps for the legions of young jobless Americans? Why not allow people to declare bankruptcy on their primary residences, and thereby reorganize their mortgage debt?

Or a hundred other ways to boost demand.

Fluff won't get us anywhere. In fact, it creates a policy vacuum that will be filled by Republicans intent on convincing Americans that cutting federal spending and reducing taxes on the rich will create jobs.

Most Americans are smart enough to see through this. But if the Republican snake oil is the only remedy being offered, some people will buy it. And if the President and Democrats on Capitol Hill continue to obsess about reaching an agreement to raise the debt limit, they risk making the snake oil seem like a legitimate cure.
It's not 1964, even though our Pod Pundits found themselves turning back to Richard Hofstadter's analysis of the 1964 Goldwater campaign to understand the Tea Party of the last two years. The punditocracy may treat Michelle Bachmann like an oddball now. But if she actually gets the nomination, many of them will discover her pragmatic bent, her refreshing candor, her courage in taking bold stances, yadda, yadda. And Mitt Romney? The punditocracy is already singing his praises. Check out the homage from "even the liberal" Eugene Robinson, What’s a pragmatic front-runner like Mitt Romney to do? Washington Post 06/13/2011: "Romney is a conservative by any reasonable definition of the word. It’s just that he has a habit of taking objective reality and the views of his constituents into account."

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