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.
Forget giving away the store — Obama is handing the store to Republicans and inviting them to burn it down.Posted: July 5, 2011 Filed under: income inequality, Medicare, Psychopaths in charge, Republican politics, Surreality, Team Obama, The Great Recession, The Media SUCKS, the villagers, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics, voodoo economics, We are so F'd | Tags: Barack Obama, crashing the economy, draconian spending cuts, economy, Great Depression, Health care, Medicaid, medicare, Republicans 22 Comments
Please read this shocking story at The New York Times — there’s no way for me to excerpt all the important parts.
Obama administration officials are offering to cut tens of billions of dollars from Medicare and Medicaid in negotiations to reduce the federal budget deficit, but the depth of the cuts depends on whether Republicans are willing to accept any increases in tax revenues.
Administration officials and Republican negotiators say the money can be taken from health care providers like hospitals and nursing homes without directly imposing new costs on needy beneficiaries or radically restructuring either program.
What this really means is that more doctors and hospitals will refuse to accept Medicare and Medicaid patients, and nursing homes will turn away frail elderly patients who can’t pay out of pocket–because Medicaid will no longer be able to assist those who are poor or have already spent their life savings on health care.
“Congress smells blood,” said William L. Minnix Jr., the chief lobbyist for nonprofit nursing homes.
Mr. Minnix, the president of a trade group known as LeadingAge, is urging nursing homes to “bombard your senators with the message that Medicaid cannot be cut by $100 billion” over 10 years, as President Obama and many Republican lawmakers have suggested.
A coalition of hospital lobbyists, worried about the direction of the budget talks, has begun a national advertising campaign to block further cuts in the two health care programs, which account for about 55 percent of hospital revenues. The hospitals have made a commitment to spend up to $1 million a week through August on television, print and online advertising.
Now check this out: Chuck Schumer, supposedly a Democrat, is quoted in the article as saying, “We are very willing to entertain savings in Medicare. Medicare gives very good health care very inefficiently.”
Really? Medicare has almost no overhead, and it pays way below the going rate for health care services. That’s why so few private doctors accept Medicare patients right now.
Now think about what Dakinikat has told us about the dangers of cutting federal spending and read this:
Medicare and Medicaid insure more than 100 million people, account for 23 percent of all federal spending and are likely to be an important part of any budget deal. Military spending, which accounts for about 20 percent of federal expenditures, is likely to be included as well.
President Obama and his Republican pals are on a mission to bring down the American economy and bring on a repeat of the Great Depression. Can anything or anyone stop them? We need riots in the streets, but can elderly people do it alone?
The Year of Wishful ThinkingPosted: March 2, 2011 Filed under: Barack Obama, Democratic Politics, Domestic Policy, Hillary Clinton, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: 2008 Democratic primaries, Bush years, economy, Great Depression, jobs, Republican crazies, Ruth Marcus, tax cuts 39 Comments
I’m not one to look back to the past. I definitely am not one to obsess on the past. It’s possible that my Buddhist training keeps me rooted in the pragmatic present. It’s likely that it had something to do with my bout with inoperable and deadly cancer. It took me at least five years to think beyond about one month. I completely lost my ability to project ahead during that time. While I have regained my foresight and I have an appreciation for hindsight, I’m still not one to rehash what coulda, shoulda, woulda been. However, Ruth Marcus shoved my thoughts back to the year of wishful thinking.
It was about 3 years ago when I started to realize who the only credible Democratic candidate was for the post-Dubya years. I came to that after listening to about three primary debates and reading a lot of background material. I was tempted by the lot of them but I always found it odd that the first one I discounted as more vice presidential material than presidential material given his appalling performance in the first primary debate wound up with the top job. The world keeps spinning on. We now have so many crazies in the Republican party that it’s a wonder they all don’t walk through the statehouse with a set of visible knuckles dragging the floor. The economy isn’t creating enough jobs to sustain us and we have people advocating the same kinds of policy that caused the great depression now. One of the worst ones wants to repeat the 20’s era Fed’s mistakes and is in charge of the House oversight committee on the Fed. Then, we have irresponsible tax cuts while running two wars. And THAT’s just a few of the economic policies ruling topsy turvy land these days.
So, again, my chagrin and thoughts were peaked by this Ruth Marcus Op Ed piece. So, I had to look back to read now and look forward.
For a man who won office talking about change we can believe in, Barack Obama can be a strangely passive president. There are a startling number of occasions in which the president has been missing in action – unwilling, reluctant or late to weigh in on the issue of the moment. He is, too often, more reactive than inspirational, more cautious than forceful.
Each of these instances can be explained on its own terms, as matters of legislative strategy, geopolitical calculation or political prudence.
He didn’t want to get mired in legislative details during the health-care debate for fear of repeating the Clinton administration’s prescriptive, take-ours-or-leave-it approach. He doesn’t want to go first on proposing entitlement reform because history teaches that this is not the best route to a deal. He didn’t want to say anything too tough about Libya for fear of endangering Americans trapped there. He didn’t want to weigh in on the labor battle in Wisconsin because, well, it’s a swing state.
Yet the dots connect to form an unsettling portrait of a “Where’s Waldo?” presidency: You frequently have to squint to find the White House amid the larger landscape.
This tough assessment from someone who generally shares the president’s ideological perspective may be hard to square with the conservative portrait of Obama as the rapacious perpetrator of a big-government agenda.
Then, read on, the rationalizations are still there but we finally get back to the punchline: “Where’s Obama? No matter how hard you look, sometimes he’s impossible to find.” I’d just like to say that any one with an impressive career of voting present so many times, who was known to hide out in bathrooms during the tough votes, spent his entire senate career campaigning and not voting, and only introduced minor legislation into the Chicago legislature after it was carefully crafted by others already had shown his brand of leadership. How a standing record that was way out of its way in proving “he who hesitates is lost” got translated into national ‘hope and change’ by so many people will be something I will ask myself whenever books come out with themes similar to Marcus’ WAPO musings. Past performance is usually an indicator of future performance. Next time, check your data. That is all. Back to the present for me.