Thursday Reads: How Senate Democrats Blew It and Blamed ObamaPosted: November 6, 2014 Filed under: Barack Obama, morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: abortion, Alison Grimes, David Krone, DSCC, FDR, Federal Stimulus, Great Depression, Harry Reid, minimum wage, Mitch McConnell, New Deal programs, personhood laws, Senate Democrats, The Washington Post 63 Comments
I’m still feeling incredibly depressed about Tuesday’s elections. It almost feels like I’m grieving over a death. Yesterday I was in shock. Today I’m feeling sadness mixed with some anger. How did this happen? Why did voters do this?
Just two years ago, President Obama was reelected decisively. Now midterm voters have elected Republicans, and not just in Congress. They’ve reelected far right governors in Florida, Michigan, and Wisconsin, Ohio, and Maine; and they’ve put Republicans in state houses in Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland!
Well there’s certainly no shortage of pundits and journalists willing to explain it all to us. Last night I read quite a few of these postmortem analyses. The main thing I learned was that it’s not just Republicans who hate Obama. Senate Democrats loathe him so intensely that they’ll cut their own throats to get back at him. So much so that Harry Reid sent his right hand man out to leak all the details to The Washington Post the weekend before Tuesday night’s devastating losses.
From Zachary Goldfarb at Wonkblog: Harry Reid’s top man tears apart the White House.
You almost never see this in politics. David Krone, the chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D), launches a major attack on the White House in this blockbuster story by my colleagues Philip Rucker and Robert Costa….[The story] signals that the chilly relationship between President Obama and Senate Democrats is now entering a deep freeze.
Senate Democrats aren’t likely to care at all about Obama’s attempts to burnish his legacy in his final two years. They’re going to be laser-focused on winning the Senate back.
As he looks toward his final two years, Obama is looking toward a Congress with few friends, and many enemies, on both sides of the aisle.
So nice to know that Democratic Senators have our backs. Oh wait. It’s not about people or issues for them, just their own survival. And they’ll backstab the president and the American people in order to protect their precious domain. Why on earth did they fight tooth and nail to crown him as their nominee in 2008? It was most likely about campaign money then too.
Here’s the WaPo story in question, Battle for the Senate: How the GOP did it. The story is all about how Mich McConnell–who’s some kind of political genius according to Rucker and Costa–directed the Republican wipeout. I hope you’ll read the whole thing, but here’s the part about Krone and Senate Democrats:
After years of tension between President Obama and his former Senate colleagues, trust between Democrats at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue had eroded. A fight between the White House and Senate Democrats over a relatively small sum of money had mushroomed into a major confrontation.
At a March 4 Oval Office meeting, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and other Senate leaders pleaded with Obama to transfer millions in party funds and to also help raise money for an outside group. “We were never going to get on the same page,” said David Krone, Reid’s chief of staff. “We were beating our heads against the wall.”
The tension represented something more fundamental than money — it was indicative of a wider resentment among Democrats in the Capitol of how the president was approaching the election and how, they felt, he was dragging them down. All year on the trail, Democratic incumbents would be pounded for administration blunders beyond their control — the disastrous rollout of the health-care law, problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs, undocumented children flooding across the border, Islamic State terrorism and fears about Ebola.
“The president’s approval rating is barely 40 percent,” Krone said. “What else more is there to say? . . . He wasn’t going to play well in North Carolina or Iowa or New Hampshire. I’m sorry. It doesn’t mean that the message was bad, but sometimes the messenger isn’t good.”
And so Democratic candidates distanced themselves from Obama. And they lost bigtime. On Sunday Krone gave the Washington Post writers his notes from White House meetings and blabbed all the details, presumably in order to put the blame for losing the Senate on on the president.
With Democrats under assault from Republican super-PAC ads, Reid and his lieutenants, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), went to the Oval Office on March 4 to ask Obama for help. They wanted him to transfer millions of dollars from the Democratic National Committee to the DSCC, a relatively routine transaction.
Beyond that, they had a more provocative request — they wanted Obama to help raise money for the Senate Majority PAC, an outside group run by former Reid advisers.
Obama and his advisers worried about the legality of his doing this and how it could affect his reputation. Krone thought they were “setting the rules as they saw fit….For some reason, they hid behind a lot of legal issues.”
The disagreements underscored a long-held contention on Capitol Hill that Obama’s political operation functioned purely for the president’s benefit and not for his party’s, although Obama allies note that the president shared with the Senate campaigns his massive lists of volunteer data and supporters’ e-mail addresses, considered by his advisers to be sacred documents.
All year, Obama traveled frequently to raise money for the party. On June 17, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough offered to increase Obama’s appearances at DSCC fundraisers and to give donors access to the president through a “Dinner with Barack” contest and high-dollar roundtable discussions.
But Krone said McDonough told him there would be no cash transfer to the DSCC, because the DNC still had to retire its 2012 debt. On Sept. 9, Reid pressured Obama to take out a loan at the DNC to fund a DSCC transfer, Krone said. The DNC did open a line of credit and sent the DSCC a total of $5 million, beginning with $500,000 on Sept. 15 and following with $1.5 million installments on Sept. 30, Oct. 15 and Oct. 24.
None of that was good enough for Krone. “I don’t think that the political team at the White House truly was up to speed and up to par doing what needed to get done,” Krone said.
Please read the whole article. It describes how the Republicans developed their strategy and carried it out, and how Democrats f**ked up. Basically, Democrats ran away from Obama and tacked to the right, while Republicans tried to hide their real policies and ran to the left. The inside story on how the DSCC handled (or didn’t handle) Alison Grimes is in there too. I’m not going to excerpt from it, but here’s another must read WaPo article about Krone’s backstabbing: Midterm disaster rips apart awkward ties between Obama and Senate Democrats.
Sally Kohn writes at The Daily Beast, How’d the GOP Win? By Running Left. Kohn notes what we’ve all been talking about here. Voters put Republicans in office everywhere, yet they voted for questions on the minimum wage (Arkansas, South Dakota, Nebraska), required sick leave (Massachusetts); and they also voted down efforts to restrict abortion.
Across the issues, there’s evidence to suggest that Republican candidates won in part by masquerading as moderates, embracing the sorts of Democratic positions—or at least rhetoric—that enjoy wide voter support, even in red states. Republican candidates in states like Georgia and Virginia lamented high poverty rates. Victorious Republican Gov. Nathan Deal boasted of his progress in reducing the number of incarcerated black men in Georgia. Cory Gardner and others hammered on stagnant wages for the middle class. Republican James Lankford, who won the race for the Senate in Oklahoma, began a debate with his opponent by railing against income inequality.
Republican Bill Cassidy, who heads to a run-off for the Senate against Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, also lamented on the campaign trail that “income inequality has increased.” Thom Tillis, the Republican victor in the North Carolina Senate race, hammered Democrat Kay Hagan for supporting a sales tax that “harmed the poor and working families more than anyone else.” The winner in the Illinois governor’s race, Republican Bruce Rauner, suggested that taxes should target businesses instead of “low-income working families.”
“You’d expect to hear that kind of talk from Democrats, or maybe socialists,” wrote Slate’s William Saletan. But no, it was Republicans who managed to pull off this stunning electoral jujitsu in contorting their rhetoric to be entirely unrecognizable from their actual conservative policies and beliefs.
In other words, Republican candidates obscured their real positions (and they were trained to do it–see the WaPo article I wrote about above), while Democrats did everything possible distance themselves from President Obama and refused to defend even his successes. Alison Grimes wouldn’t even say she voted for him in 2012, even though she was an delegate at the Democratic convention!
I love this piece by Tommy Christopher at The Daily Banter, Democrats Ran Away From Obama and It Cost Them Dearly On Election Day.
The 2014 midterm election was never going to be kind to Democrats, with a map that favored Republicans to pick up at least some seats in the Senate, and a 2010 redistricting spree that practically guarantees a GOP majority in the House for, well, ever. But with an avalanche of good news about health care and the economy, and a Death Star-sized advantage on the issue of immigration reform, Democrats rolled up their sleeves and ran as hard away from that as they could. So, how’d that work out for them? [….]
Things really could not possibly have gone worse for the Democrats. When the dust settles, Republicans will probably hold 54 Senate seats, if Democrat Mark Warner (D-Va.) can hold off a surprise challenge by Ed Gillespie, and may also flip Angus King (I-Maine). If Warner falls, then there could be a 56-44 Republican majority. In the House, Republicans look to pick up 25 seats, and in the states, Democrats lost in solidly blue states like Maryland and Illinois.
It doesn’t look like walking around saying “Barack who?“ and convincing President Obama to break his promise on immigration did Democrats any good at all. But the exit polls from Tuesday’s election strongly suggest that those moves did manage to hurt Democrats in states they desperately needed to carry (well, all of them). While Republicans gained with there bread-and-butter, white voters, Democrats lost support from 2012 among black voters (-4%), Hispanic voters (-7%), unmarried women (-7%), and unmarried men (-6%). As CNN’s last pre-election poll indicted, Obama was not a factor for 45% of voters, while another 19% said their vote was cast in support of the president. Only 33% said they cast their vote in opposition to the president. That number is consistent with every poll ever of Republican opposition to Obama.
Read the rest at the link.
This headline at Politico is a laugh riot: Voters want the GOP to fix the economy. Good luck with that. Follow the link to read Politico’s take on that if you want to.
I do think 2014 voters were frustrated with the economy. Although there have been many improvements, they’ve been slow to develop and have mostly benefited the wealthy. Americans aren’t seeing their wages go up, and most of the news jobs are low-paying and/or part-time.
Obama had a chance at the beginning of his first term to be another FDR. He could have fought for a bigger stimulus and instituted programs New Deal-type programs by executive order, as Roosevelt did during the Great Depression. Instead, Obama chose to invest his mandate in passing a Republican health care bill.
Obama has learned a few things over the past six years, and he has done some good things; but the truth is he was never the liberal his clueless 2008 supporters thought he was. As I said many times back then, Obama has no real ideology that I can discover. He’s a DLC-type technocrat. Remember when he claimed he was never a member, but the DLC had his picture posted prominently on their website? He has always believed in privatizing government programs and he was never truly committed to women’s reproductive rights. Just go back and read his book, The Audacity of Hope. I read it in 2008, and I immediately knew that Obama was not my kind of Democrat. But he was elected by people who bought the book, but apparently never read it.
But that’s all water under the bridge. He’s the President of the U.S. now, and I’ve done my best to support him. He’s done some good things, and I think he’s done a lot more for me than Harry Reid and his pals in the Senate.
That’s it for me this morning. What stories are you following? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and I hope you’ll have a pleasant Thursday.
Charlie Pierce on Obama’s speech yesterday:
Stubborn Kinda Fella.
Pierce finally gets what we saw in Obama 6 long years ago.
Too bad we can’t patent our acumen, eh?
His “reaching across the aisle” line in 2008 was a red flag for me.
That and his plaudits on behalf of Ronald Reagan sent shivers up my spine.
Yes, shivers up the spine. But he wanted that to be known. And BostonBoomer has several times alluded to the fiasco of ’08 which saw the Dem bigshots ensure his nomination over against Hillary, who had better support and, as we knew then and know even better now, would have been the better prez. How dearly everyone has paid.
Kudos bb for this insightful post! You have said exactly what I think and feel. Obama has failed to recognize what we all have been experiencing: a growth in radical politicians bent n shaping this country to their liking with a war on women, gays, seniors, and the middle class. All brought to us by a mean spirited GOP agenda that has yet to actually resonate with the voters.
It’s not so hard for me to repeat “I told you so” because it still remains the truth. The creative class and the Dem delegates shoved Obama down our throats believing he was “the end all, be all” to solving the problems this nation faced. A man who barely knew his way around the Senate in 2008 but who seemed to display enough charisma to lead. How wrong they were.
I agree there were several things that happened that he can be given credit for but his unwillingness in the beginning to fight back these obstructionists with his “compromise” position set our teeth on edge. The GOP leadership was never about compromise as they made clear early on. And though I believe that race played its part in this debacle he could have at least made an effort to stand for something but even that was elusive.
His personality is not that of a politician but one who likes to make speeches and gain the affection of the crowd. Somewhat like the professor he really is. But not a politician. A politician knows when to “strike a deal” and come out at least with the perception of the winner. Bill Clinton had this role down pat. Deep in his heart I don’t believe that Obama like dealing with people. Something in his make up prevents him from reaching out. Even to his own side as evidenced by some to these reports filtering out following the “drubbing”. His advisers are his friends. And sometimes you need more than friends to pull you along.
We are now stuck probably for the next 20 years with enough radical voices in congress that will turn this nation into a pseudo theocracy ruled by big business with the gaps between the haves and have not widening each year.
Is Obama to blame for that? In part largely because he distanced himself from those of his own party that he needed more than he ever thought.
I agree that Obama is to blame for a lot of the losses, but if Democrats had looked beyond their own petty infighting, they could have made a case for Obama’s successes. They allowed Republicans to pretend to be the ones supporting economic equality, for heavens sake!
Great post! I agree with every word. This election was a lot like 1994 when Dems ran away from Bill Clinton and those who did lost. I remember after that election Ted Kennedy gave a speech at the Press Club excoriating those who ran away from Bill then blamed him for their losses. The ones who supported him largely won then and some would have won this time, if they had learned a lesson.
Loved this statement:
I agree Kat.
These awful results are bound to happen when on 38% of the electorate bothers to vote.
Although it will never happen in my lifetime, things might be a lot different if we changed the voting day to a Saturday where many more voters had the opportunity to cast their ballots as is done is other countries as an accommodation.
I followed your link down below. That was a great piece by Jessica Valenti.
I’m not surprised that the Senate Dems hate Obama.
When is Obama ever for anything or anybody but Obama?
Releasing funds to the DSCC might have made a huge difference.
Hell, even I gave them twenty five bucks.
He did release $5 million and he did hundreds of fund-raisers for them.
Senate Democrats should be fighting for the people, not whining about retaining their little feifdoms. They are supposed to be representing us, but instead they represent corporations. David Krone got 1 million from Comcast after he went to work for Reid.
Sorry, but I have no sympathy for Harry Reid or any of the rest of them, and after reading about how they fucked up in Kentucky . . . and that horrible candidate they picked in Iowa . . .
Hillary’s going to have more work than ever in January 2017.
I hope she’ll be there. I’m afraid the party will succeed in tearing her down again.
I’m afraid of the same thing.
Hey, how are you doing? Nice to see you.
I liked this piece from The Guardian.
Republicans didn’t win as big as you think they did. And Obama didn’t lose, by Gary Younge.
Well that was a terrible night for liberal women in politics. Are you ready for Hillary yet?
30 Years of Conservative Nonsense, An Explainer, by Kurt Eichenwald.
This should be “must reading” in economic, civics, and history classes.
Kurt Eichenwald is simply great. On twitter he’s also fantastic.
Yes, I really like him.
You’re not going to believe this. But it appears some one torched the home and cars–killing three family cats in the process–of a democratic political operative. It appears to be politically motivated.
I heard about it. Have they found out anything about who did it?
No. It’s still under investigation but friends and family have started a site to help them recover …. It’s telling that it’s being investigated by the organized crime unit.
Random Observations on a Reaming: That’ll Teach That Negro to Be President – See more at: http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2014/11/random-observations-on-reaming-thatll.html#sthash.TzPV2dsi.dpuf
Rude Pundit is fucking right!
This fits well with the Rude Pundit’s theme …
tpm: C-SPAN Caller On Air: ‘Republicans Hate That N***er Obama’ (VIDEO)
In thinking about them, how many fundraising emails did you get with subject lines like “All Hope is Lost” from Dems? I seriously wonder if those helped suppress their own vote, particularly among the young.
And someone should really have a baseball bat conversation with whoever made this decision. Seriously, the DSCC are idiots!
tpm: Dem Campaign Abandons Ad Buys As Landrieu Heads To Runoff
I think here in VA the polls saying Warner was a lock kept turnout down as well. I can totally see how working Dems would not bother to vote here with Warner a supposed shoo-in and Trammel not having a chance.
I kind of think all that spam email cost them lots of votes. The longer I think about it, the more it seems likely.
I got thousands of those. I gave up looking and them and just hit delete.
Me too. I was unsubscribing like crazy and I was still getting them.
Me to but I know several people who got really angry about them. All the doom and gloom may have influenced some voters though.
It’s entirely possible. I got doom and gloom on a daily basis from Ed Markey–sometimes several times a day. Elizabeth Warren too, but occasionally her e-mails were a little more upbeat.
@bostonboomer and Pat Johnson: did either of you have the non-binding referendum about forcing licensing on abortion providers who perform more than ten abortions per year on your ballot? It was at the very end of mine and I thought I would pass out when I saw it. Was it a town by town thing where they had to get signatures or was it statewide? I never saw it coming. Where was Planned Parenthood? This is how they started in Texas and other restrictive states. I figured whomever drafted it must be floating a trial balloon to see how much support they’d get.
I was horrified when I emailed a very far-left friend, and her response was, Well, what’s wrong with licensing, isnt’ that a good thing? I had to explain to her that any M.D. has the right to perform a first trimester abortion in his/her medical office, and that this kind of “protective” language about licensing and public health inspections is how restrictions started in other states. The most radical woman I know, and she didn’t get what it meant.
No, I didn’t have that one on my ballot. We had one local referendum about raising money from property taxes to fix up the public parks, and it passed.
Healthcare providers are already licensed for their scope of practice. Politicians should stay the hell out of practicing medicine.
tpm: GOP Trolls Democrats: Thanks For Sidelining Obama, Guys!
I agree with all of your points Sky Dancers. The Dems were cowards for running away from Obama and it hurt them. I’m also disappointed in turnout. Dems lose when we don’t show up to vote and we didn’t. But I think the lessons we have learned this week will help us in 2016. I thought it was hilarious that McConnell came out and said repeal of Obamacare is off the table. LOL! I don’t know about your commercials, but here in VA that’s what the hell they ran on! It reminded me of Harry Reid immediately taking impeachment off the table for Bush/Cheney. I guess politicians screw their constituents on both side of the aisle.
That was Nancy Pelosi, wasn’t it?
Yes, I thought it was Pelosi too. That was the day I lost all faith in her.
By the way, bb. I’m sure you saw the story about the 22 year old woman who was abducted in Philly. Well they rescued her and got the guy. Turns out he was another serial predator from VA.
Yes, I’ve been following it. I didn’t realize he was from VA. Horrible. I’m so glad they found her alive.
Oh yeah. I had it in my head that it was Pelosi but I said the wrong thing. Thank you.
I have no doubt that Reid agreed with her.
And let’s not forget that Obama said impeachment should be reserved for grave crimes, rather than used against Bush.
Kind of true…
Some states. Not all.
Harris County sends more people to death row than the rest of TX counties combined and this story should scare the crap out of everyone.
Raw Story: Withheld evidence and grand jury intimidation: Texas court orders new trial in death penalty case
Cool science news of the day: