Monday, September 19, 2011

Throwing away the White House

Salon's Steve Kornacki offers a breathless hype about the possibilities of Obama drawing sharp distinctions with the Republicans on jobs in Obama and the art of picking a fight 09/19/2011. His pitch runs:

The "Buffett principle" that President Obama will apparently embrace Monday morning is a lot like the jobs plan he unveiled earlier this month: The fact that it has little chance of being codified is practically beside the point.

According to reports that broke Sunday night, Obama will present the following line demand as the congressional deficit reduction supercommittee formulates its plan: If the final blueprint calls for Medicare and Social Security cuts without demanding more revenue from the wealthy, he'll veto it. Apparently, Obama will unveil his own $3 trillion that will call for eliminating tax loopholes and deductions for the wealthy -- a group that Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in America, has been arguing benefits from an effective tax rate that is disproportionately low compared to middle class. ...

So what we have here is the makings of a reelection strategy, one rooted in redirecting swing voters’ intense anxiety, frustration and anger away from Obama and onto the GOP. [my emphasis]
Immediately following that last sentence, he seems to have a glimpse of what a desperate hope it is: "Obviously, there’s not much inspiring about this, but it's probably Obama's best bet for winning a second term -- and maybe then having more leverage to actually enact some of his preferred economic policies." That sounds something like: that cobra just bit me, but maybe he's a mutant variety without venom and it won't hurt me.

Kornacki seems to completely miss the disastrous aspect that he explicitly describes: "If the final blueprint calls for Medicare and Social Security cuts without demanding more revenue from the wealthy, he'll veto it." If that is going to be the red line that Obama plans to boldly insist he simply won't cross, the Democrats are looking at electoral catastrophe in 2012. Because obviously, that formulation means that some increase in taxes on the wealthy would be considered an acceptable trade-off for cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

Mitt Romney or Rick Perry would be far worse as President than Obama. But at this point, I'm expecting one of those two to be the next President. November 2012 is a long way away. But I'm thinking of the following fairly banal considerations:

  • Unemployment is likely to be high and economic growth still very limited, at best, in 2012. This is always a very bad electoral sign for incumbent Presidents.
  • The national press is badly broken. Their particular brand of malfunction tends more often to favor Republicans themes and candidates than Democrats.
  • The Republican Presidential campaign will outspend Obama's re-election campaign. Obama will most likely be able to raise the $1 billion his team estimates they need for the campaign. But in this first post-Citizen's United Presidential race, the Republicans will spend more.
  • Obama needs to turn out the Democratic voting base. I don't anticipate this to be much of a problem. Because the Republican candidate will be scarier for this group than Obama is disappointing.
  • Obama needs the Democratic voting base to vote for him. I would expect the number of habitual Democratic voters who would switch to Romney or Perry to be negligible in its effect on the outcome. But a non-negligible number will be sorely tempted to cast a protest vote for a third party. In a tightly contested state like Ohio or Florida, this could be decisive.
  • Obama needs Democratic-leaning independents to support him and to care enough to vote. This is the gaping hole in the Obama team's political strategy. Polls show this group being the most disaffected by Obama's President Pushover act. And the White House's proposing cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits severely undercuts what should have been their most effective wedge issues to offset the electoral effects of bad economic conditions.
Several recent articles discuss the severe effect that national conditions are having on voters' attitudes in California, even with a popular, articulate and combative Democratic Governor like Jerry Brown.

Shane Goldmacher, Poll illustrates California voters' anger McClatchy-Tribune News Service 09/05/2011:

Although Obama has previously called for strategic government investments to stimulate the economy, only 37 percent of California voters said they favor such an approach. Instead, the Republican view - that slashing government spending to restrain the deficit will better lead to prosperity - was preferred by 49 percent of respondents, according to the survey sponsored by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Times.

"The argument of 'We need to cut the size of government, we need to reduce the deficit' has won, even in California," said David Kanevsky, research director for American Viewpoint, a Republican firm that co-directed the bipartisan poll. "Stimulus is almost a four-letter word here."

With California unemployment mired at 12 percent, the electorate is clearly dissatisfied with the status quo. Nearly 3 in 4 voters say the country is on the wrong track, up sharply from the 55 percent who felt that way in November 2009.
This is one more indication of how devastating it has been for the Obama Administration to heavily reinforce the Republican/Herbert Hoover narrative on the virtues of austerity economics during a depression.

David Siders, Obama approval rating plummets in California, poll finds McClatchy Newspapers 09/14/2011. It discusses the results of a Field Poll, considered one of the best for California:

Though Obama is strongly favored to win California in his re-election bid next year, the poll suggests many Democrats may vote for him only begrudgingly, and it is yet another indication of weakening support nationwide.

"When you're seeing vulnerability in a state like California, I think that really is ominous for his national standing," Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said. ...

Obama's decline has been quick and widespread: As little as three months ago, his approval rating in California was 54 percent. Since June, his rating has suffered double-digit percentage drops among Democrats, nonpartisans, Central Valley residents, men, African Americans, Asian Americans and voters over 65.
This is a really serious decline. And I'm afraid that by sticking to austerity economics, even though he just proposed a jobs plan that even if passed in full wouldn't give a great boost to the economy, Obama may have already fatally undercut his chance to build a coherent winning narrative against the Republicans. Because it's become difficult to believe that Obama won't eventually cave in to Republicans even on issues he claims to see as vital.

David Siders, Field Poll: Californians' view of Congress drops to record low Sacramento Bee 09/16/2011 shows how this discontent can affect the down-ticket races as well, not just Obama's re-election prospects:

Battered by the failing economy and its own partisan gridlock, Congress' standing among California voters has fallen to an all-time low.

Even four-term Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein can't escape the slide, according to a new Field Poll. A plurality of voters is now disinclined to re-elect her next year. ...

Just 9 percent of California voters approve of the job Congress is doing, the poorest assessment since Field started polling on the question 20 years ago. Eighty-six percent of California voters disapprove of the job Congress is doing, according to the poll.
If our press weren't so busy trying to cover politics as a celebrity game show, we would be seeing many articles speculating whether such a level of cynicism meant that democratic institutions as such were suffering an alarming loss of public confidence and support. Siders:

Though California voters have become increasingly displeased with Congress in recent years, never before has the legislative body seen its approval rating in single digits.

As recently as March, 17 percent of California voters approved of the job Congress was doing.

The poll is yet another mark of dissatisfaction nationwide with President Barack Obama and Congress, with widespread disappointment in Washington's handling of the economy and unemployment. Less than half of California voters approve of the job Obama is doing.
Tags: ,

| +Save/Share | |

Links to this post:

Create a Link


"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


  • What is the Blue Voice?
  • Bruce Miller
  • Fdtate
  • Marcia Ellen (on hiatus)
  • Marigolds2
  • Neil
  • Tankwoman
  • Wonky Muse


  • September 11 retrospective: The Dissent symposium ...
  • Saudi Arabia warns US on Palestine UN vote: politi...
  • Rick Perry's best Christian Right buds thinking bo...
  • Bold apostolic leader Peter Wagner mealy-mouths ab...
  • Obama's trial balloon to Democrats: let's just com...
  • How effective was Osama bin Laden's strategy from ...
  • For Obama to be seen as a defender of Social Secur...
  • Covert operations and the mystique of 9/11
  • Krugman sees the euro as being in dire straits at ...
  • September 11 retrospective: "Jueves" de La Oreja d...



    [Tip: Point cursor to any comment to see title of post being discussed.]
    www TBV




    Environmental Links
    Gay/Lesbian Links
    News & Media Links
    Organization Links
    Political Links
    Religious Links
    Watchdog Links



    Atom/XML Feed
    Blogarama - Blog Directory
    Blogwise - blog directory



    hits since 06-13-2005

    site design: wonky muse