Oh, How the Mighty Have Fallen!

Remember back in 2008 when the Obama campaign accused Bill Clinton of making racist comments? Remember when all the prog bloggers wrote that Obama didn’t want Bill Clinton hanging around the White House giving unwanted advice? My, how things have changed!

According to Joe Conason, Obama’s “campaign chiefs” secretly sneaked into Harlem last Wednesday to ask for the former President’s advice on how to get Obama re-elected.

President Obama’s top political operatives — including campaign chief adviser David Axelrod — traveled from Chicago and Washington to the headquarters of the William Jefferson Clinton foundation in Harlem last Wednesday afternoon for a meeting with the former president and two of his top aides. The topic? How to re-elect the current president — including some very specific advice from Clinton, according to sources present.

The Nov. 9 meeting, which went on for more than two hours, also included Clinton counselor Douglas Band and Justin Cooper, a senior adviser whose multiple responsibilities have included work on the former president’s memoir and last two books. Their guests were former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, who is serving as Obama’s 2012 campaign manager; Patrick Gaspard, executive director of the Democratic National Committee who until recently oversaw political affairs in the White House; and Obama’s lead pollster Joel Benenson, who played the same role in the 2008 campaign.

According to Conason, the meeting was requested by Obama advisers. Much of the discussion centered on how to win in southern and southwestern battleground states “such as North Carolina, Virginia, Nevada, and Arizona” that Obama won last time, but is now struggling.

Economic conditions and how to address them dominated the discussion. What most interested the Obama team were Clinton’s insights on heartland voting blocs that remain in the political middle: not the Republican-leaning independents who always end up voting for the GOP nominee, but the truly uncommitted who largely ended up supporting Obama in 2008.

Apparently Bill was told in no uncertain terms that his help is very much needed and wanted during the upcoming campaign.

Meanwhile, at the Financial Times, Edward Luce is echoing James Carville’s recent advice to Obama: Mr President, it’s time to panic. In discussing the failure and recent demotion of Obama’s latest chief of staff Bill Daley, Luce argues that Obama hasn’t learned the lesson that his campaign staff are not the best advisers on governing and policy.

On his way out, Rahm Emanuel warned Mr Daley that he would be just one among four de facto chiefs of staff, each with independent access to Mr Obama. That has proved accurate. Effective presidents rely on powerful managers, who are not obliged to compete with election consultants for the president’s ear. At a time when there is “low visibility” in the US economy, and when volatility holds the whip hand over American politics, there is greater need than ever for a leader who can focus on the bigger horizon.

It has been almost three years, and frustrated allies say that Mr Obama shows few signs of finding a learning curve. He still fails to consult widely and dislikes “reaching out” when he has to. Many Democrats have given up trying. “He doesn’t want to listen,” said one senator. “I don’t think the leopard is going to change his spots.” The plain fact is that Mr Obama prefers to campaign than govern. With the entrenched inner circle that he has, no one should be surprised by this. Whether or not Mr Obama can eke out a victory next year, it would be optimistic to expect things to change radically in a second term.

Will Obama be able to learn from Bill Clinton’s advice? My guess is the focus will be on taking advantage of Clinton’s skills as a campaigner rather than listening to the wisdom he gained during eight years in the White House and as a world leader.\


Will Anyone Drink the Koolaid this Time?

Ahh…those days of Koolaid and hope…were they really only 2-1/2 years ago?

Here is the video Michelle Manning made for Barack Obama back in February, 2008.

She was so inspired by Barack Obama that she went all out, according to Andy Ostroy at Huffpo.

Back in 2008, a very pregnant Michelle, who’s little brother was fighting in Iraq, protested the war and rallied hard for Obama. She took part in out-of-state get-out-the-vote campaigns. She produced the above video at her own $8,000 expense. And she sent the maximum contribution allowed by law. She was one of those people who were ridiculed as Obamacons. She took the Kool-Aid pitcher right up to her face and guzzled until she was drunk on “Change We Can Believe In.” No doubt about it, Michelle was hard-core.

And then something happened after the election. There was change, alright, but not the kind that Michelle, and millions like her, expected. The president they loved and fought for was letting them down. He hadn’t ended the war, as promised. He escalated the war in Afghanistan. Dropped health care reform’s public option. Didn’t support gay marriage. Took forever to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Folded like a $2 lawn chair on repealing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. They grew angrier as he seemed to care more about placating Republicans than the die-hard progressives who put him in office. And now they’re upset that he’s gotten the United States embroiled in a third war, in Libya.

Here is what Michelle Manning has to say in 2011 about supporting Obama for a second term as President:

I can’t anymore. I worked too hard for him. I gave too much. I stood out in the freezing rain on Super Tuesday in Union Square holding a sign seven months pregnant begging for votes all day. I knocked on doors in Pennsylvania for two days begging for votes while I was nursing my new newborn baby, taking breaks to pump milk with a portable breast pump and a cooler in my car every three hours. I was a maxed out donor. I made two videos I put up on YouTube at my own production expense. He owes me. He needs to at least keep his promises, and he hasn’t. I haven’t wanted to say anything so as not to betray my party, but I am an American first, and a Democrat second, and keeping my mouth shut is wrong. We need another option in 2012. I’m afraid Mr. Obama is a one term president, and the sooner we recognize that and start working on Plan B, the better off we will be when the time comes. Pretending he’s doing a good job isn’t helping anyone, and I’m afraid the “give him time” grace period is over. It’s reelection time already. I want another option.

Ostroy asks if Hillary might decide to run again, and claims Michelle and others like her would support Clinton this time. I’m afraid it’s too late for that, but I think Obama is going to have to deal with people in the media bringing up the possibility again and again for the next few months.

Follow me below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »


Thursday Reads

Woman Reading, by Marie Fox

Good Morning!!!

You’ve probably heard about George Soros’ remarks at a meeting for big bucks progressive donors on Tuesday. Sam Stein at Huffpo:

The Hungarian-American financier was speaking to a small side gathering of donors who had convened in Washington D.C. for the annual gathering of the Democracy Alliance — a formal community of well-funded, progressive-minded individuals and activists.

According to multiple sources with knowledge of his remarks, Soros told those in attendance that he is “used to fighting losing battles but doesn’t like to lose without fighting.”

“We have just lost this election, we need to draw a line,” he said, according to several Democratic sources. “And if this president can’t do what we need, it is time to start looking somewhere else.”

Michael Vachon, an adviser to Soros, did not dispute the comment, though he stressed that there was no transcript of a private gathering to check. Vachon also clarified that the longtime progressive giver was not referring to a primary challenge to the president.

Really? Hmmmm…. So um, who leaked the news from the secret meeting?

And there’s more:

Dissatisfaction with the Obama administration was not limited to Soros’s private gathering with donors. On Wednesday morning, Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina received several tough questions during his address to the Democracy Alliance. According to a source in the room, he was pressed multiple times as to why the administration has declined to be more combative with Republicans, both in communication and legislative strategy.

So Soros and pals are all hunky-dory with Obama? I’m not sure I buy that. Anyway this is being spun as simply a discussion about giving money to outside groups instead of directly to Obama–a change from 2008 when Obama directed his donors to funnel all money through his campaign instead of giving to groups like Move on.org.

Let’s look at some of the reactions to this political bombshell.

Dave Wiegel dismisses out of hand the notion that Soros is unhappy with Obama.

Soros isn’t actually a liberal Democrat — he has a diverse collection of interests, some of which (drug legalization) don’t move at all when Democrats win. There may be some millionaires who want to beat Obama in a primary, but there are more who want to activate the third party pro-Democrat groups that Obama wanted to evaporate in 2008-2010.

Kenneth P. Vogel at Politico:

Soros, a billionaire who has been among the most generous donors to liberal causes over the years, has recently indicated he no longer intends to fund the kind of independent political advertising campaigns he backed in 2004 and that Republican allies used to bombard Democrats in the midterm elections.

During a private session Wednesday on the sidelines of a conference of major Democratic donors organized by the Democracy Alliance, Soros reiterated the position that wealthy liberals should focus their giving on groups that will push President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats on liberal legislative initiatives, rather than groups supporting individual candidates, according to a source in the meeting.

“George was talking about how, in the context of the election, progressives are disappointed, and that they should keep (the administration) focused on certain issues that we should be promoting,” said the source, who did not want to be identified because Democracy Alliance bars attendees from discussing its conferences.

New York Magazine responded with snark:

According to some loose-lipped folks that attended a private event for the Democracy Alliance in Washington today, the hedge-fund billionaire and longtime Democratic donor George Soros is very upset about the last election, not least because his plans to grow a crop of Maui Wowie in his front yard were stymied, and he hinted darkly that the president may not have his support for much longer.

I have to say I agree with Soros on the legalization issue.

In other news, unemployment benefits will soon expire for two million Americans, and since Congress won’t be in session next week (they get whole weeks off for holidays), they will have to do something soon or face the wrath of voters when they go home for Thanksgiving.

Currently five million people are receiving aid under two federally-funded programs for the long-term unemployed.

Yet no clear path forward has emerged in Congress for reauthorizing those programs. Aides have floated the idea of coupling the benefits with a reauthorization of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for the top two percent of earners.

But it won’t happen if Ben “Scrooge” Nelson gets his way.

Sen. Ben Nelson, a Nebraska Democrat who sided with Republicans when they blocked the previous reauthorization for nearly two months this summer, said he doesn’t love the tax cut deal.

“That’s a mistake,” said Nelson, who has joined the GOP in opposing the extended benefits unless their deficit impact is offset with spending cuts. “Unless unemployment is paid for, I can’t support it.”

Why don’t you just switch parties, Ben, and take President teleprompter Jesus with you.

Jim Morrison

I love this story: The Charlie Crist wants to pardon Jim Morrison. For those too young to remember:

It was a classic skirmish of the 1960s culture war, pitting a nonconformist rock star and his bohemian fans against clean-cut defenders of acceptable behavior, the counterculture against the mainstream, and Jim Morrison against Anita Bryant.

Now the governor of Florida says he will seek to put an end to it by pursuing a posthumous pardon for two criminal convictions that Morrison, the frontman for the Doors, received after some very bad behavior at a 1969 concert in Miami.

I can get behind that. Why not give Morrison a posthumous Medal of Freedom too? And lets submit his name for the Nobel Peace Prize. Morrison gave me a lot more joy than I ever got from the latest Medal of Freedom winner or the Nobel Peace Prize winning War President.

“The more that I’ve read about the case and the more I get briefed on it,” Mr. Crist said in an interview on Tuesday, “the more convinced I am that maybe an injustice has been done here.”

For those on the other side, the passion has dimmed, but a sour taste lingers. The anger that once brought them to the barricades has dulled to an impatient pique at the notion that the fate of a dead rock star still commands attention 40 years later.

The fight began on March 1, 1969, when the Doors played a raucous concert at Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami. An intoxicated Morrison stumbled through songs like “Light My Fire” and “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” taunted the crowd and threatened to expose himself before fans mobbed the stage. A newspaper review said the singer appeared to simulate masturbation during his performance, and the concert was investigated by a Miami crime commission as six arrest warrants were issued for Morrison, including one for a felony charge of lewd and lascivious behavior.

I’ll end with a great Morrison song with some stirring lyrics that are very relevant today.

Five to one, baby
One in five
No one here gets out alive, now
You get yours, baby
I’ll get mine
Gonna make it, baby
If we try

The old get old
And the young get stronger
May take a week
And it may take longer
They got the guns
But we got the numbers
Gonna win, yeah
We’re takin’ over

Come on!

Except maybe we should change that to

“the rich get richer/ and the poor get angrier.”

So what’s on your reading list today?