Obama is at it again, complaining about “griping and groaning Democrats” and frankly just not looking very presidential. Per Jake Tapper:
Last night at the Pyramid Club in Philadelphia, President Obama said “when I hear Democrats griping and groaning and saying, ‘Well, you know, the health care plan didn’t have a public option;’ and I don’t know, ‘The financial reform — there was a provision here that I think we should have gotten better’; or, ‘You know what, yes, you ended the war in Iraq, the combat mission there, but you haven’t completely finished the Afghan war yet’; or this or that or the other — I say, folks, wake up.”
This is the man who ran for 2 years on “bipartisanship” and against the politics of divisiveness, who wanted to reach his hand across the aisle in the spirit of “hope” while we sat there slack jawed at the idea that he could get Republican buy-in on…well, anything.
Obama has now done an about-face and is running against his own 2008 messaging campaign. He has seen the enemy, and it is the GOP: “This is not some academic exercise,” he told the audience. “As Joe Biden put it, don’t compare us to the Almighty; compare us to the alternative.”
I heard Biden on the Rachel Maddow show, and I’m not sure I understand the theory here. You’re not supposed to criticize the health care bill, or the President himself, because if you do, it means that it could depress turnout in the November election and the Republicans would take the House, and that would be the worst thing that could possibly happen.
“Because the consequences are serious for the outcome of the things we care most about,” said Biden (right before he said “we have enough votes to sustain support for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Vote [sic].”)
Okay, fair enough. We’ll let slide for the moment the questionable assumption that it depresses voter turnout if the base criticizes the President, but it doesn’t depress voter turnout if the President criticizes the base — considering 86% of Democrats supported the public option, and 6 in 10 Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan.
The argument spins out of the logic turn completely right when Tim Kaine flips his shit because Democrats in conservative districts are running against Obama to save themselves.
From Chet Edwards’ new ad:
“When President Obama and Nancy Pelosi pressured Chet Edwards, Chet stood up to them and voted against their trillion dollar health care bill and no to cap and trade,” says the ad’s narrator.
Glenn Nye, Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, Joe Donnelly — they’re all running ads critical of Obama and the health care bill in their strongly conservative districts. Evidently nobody wants to hear it from them either, and they’re not liberals by any stretch of the imagination.
But if, as Biden says, “the consequences are serious for the things we care the most about,” that should be okay, right? I mean, the goal is to keep Democrats from losing their majority in the House, yes?
Following the Obama/Biden logic, one would think. But DNC chair Tim Kaine went on Fox news and blasted these Democrats, saying “I think they’re crazy.”
Now I’m confused. Because we women (and LGBTs and Hispanics and anti-war activists etc etc) have been told over and over again that the Democratic party has to have a “big tent” and allow conservative Democrats to “represent their districts,” since the most important thing is having a Democratic majority in the House (because as we all know, the alternative is unthinkable). So shouldn’t these members of congress also be allowed to do what they need to do to keep their seats? I mean, if the goal is keeping Darryl Issa from having subpoena power.
At least Steve Hildebrand, who was Obama’s finance director, admits what he wants when he demands that Democrats like Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin stop running against the President, calling them “cowards”:
JONATHAN KARL: And is that what you see people doing though because they’re afraid this vote is going to be used against them. In fact it’s already being used against them by Republicans they’re running away from it, running away from the President.
STEVE HILDEBRAND: Yeah, and the fact that they’re cowards in such a serious way. I mean, is this about their reelection or is this about helping people? What are they in politics for? What are they in government for, if they’re not in government to help people? They should simply get out. They shouldn’t run for reelection. And we should put people in there who are strong leaders, who want to do something to help people. That health care bill is going to help young people, old people, poor people, middle-income people. It’s vitally important to this country and any one of them that walks away from it, isn’t proud of that vote, is a coward.
Obama isn’t actually on the ballot this time, so it isn’t neck that’s on the line. Nonetheless, Hildebrand thinks that Democrats should be willing to lose their seats in key swing districts that could cost them their majority in the House rather than criticize the health care bill, or the President, because it isn’t all about their “reelection.”
Bottom line: you can’t have it both ways. If Obama and Biden truly do believe what they’re saying, that keeping Darryl Issa from having subpoena power is the most important thing this November, then Democratic members in conservative districts who have been running reactionary campaigns for years to hold down those seats should also be able to criticize the President and the health care bill if that’s what it takes.
And if that’s not okay with them, then “holding the House” and keeping Darryl Issa from having subpeona power is not what they really care about. It’s just being used as an excuse to silence criticism they don’t want to hear.
Progressives got what they got with this administration because they didn’t sit quietly in the veal pen and clap on command. They fought for the things they care about, like Audit the Fed, Elizabeth Warren, student loan reform and derivatives regulation. And the best time to be pressuring politicians is right before an election. That’s when they have to listen to you.
November 3, not so much.
So to all the electoral politics rocket scientists who have come to the conclusion that the best strategy for winning in November is to hector the base about advocating for the issues they care about — you might want to have a group meeting and rethink things. Poll after poll continues to show that the health care bill is an albatross wrapped around the party’s neck this November, and this brilliant plan to lay responsibility off on “liberal critics” for coming up short at the polls makes everyone involved look thin skinned, desperate and weak.
It may give you something to say in the spin room on election night, but it won’t save one seat. And nobody but the crazies swimming around in the party bilge water will really believe it.