Gross Political Incompetence

Obama What Me WorryThat is the last thing I would have thought to charge Barack Obama with in 2008. But that is the conclusion that has forced itself on me. I've started negative posts about him several times over the past couple of months. No fight in him, standard centrist Democrat, go along to get along politician, et al. Like Velma Hart (who just got laid off) at Obama's town hall meeting, I just don't have the energy to finish them. So I'll just post this revealing anecdote from Dave Wiegel's article, Ron Wyden, D-Utopia:
Axelrod took this in. But he also pointed out to Wyden that the Obama administration had secured a massive middle class tax cut. Tax cuts made up one-third of the cost of the 2009 economic stimulus package.

Wyden had an answer for that. Nobody knew that their taxes had been cut. The stimulus tax breaks were, for political purposes, invisible.

"There was a loooooong pause after I said that," Wyden says.
Now, David Plouffe was the star of the campaign, and campaigning is certainly different politics than Presidential. And David Axelrod is in over his head while Valerie Jarrett is MIA. On the other hand, Pete Rouse has the nickname of the "101st Senator" and Rahm Emmanuel certainly knows how to count votes in the House. So why is the White House so inept at politics? You have to put the blame on the man - President Obama. Does he get it?

I have a friend that worked for Obama on the campaign. He was in Iowa before the caucus and got into the car with Obama to brief him on the way to an event. My buddy spun out a list of things that were concerning to worrying and basically ended with a "what do we do?" Obama smiled and said, "Relax, you worry too much." (A paraphrase of a long-ago second-hand conversation, not really a quote)

Obama just thinks things are going to work out. I had another example of this a couple of days ago that I can't remember now, but doesn't it seem to fit the facts?

UPDATE: More evidence for the charge:
A less obvious lesson is that Obama (and many Democrats) hates politics. He refuses to accept that politics involves choosing one’s enemies and pursuing them to the final victory. In his characteristic tin-eared fashion, President Obama responded to the election rout by calling for a new era of cooperation between the two parties. If Obama finds a partner, it is likely to be on the partner’s terms. Will the hard right have the temerity to follow through on its promise to curb Social Security and Medicare, which remain the third rail of American politics? Or will Obama clear the path for them by reviving his lame post-politics line, a stance he temporarily abandoned as his party was drowning?
UPDATE II: Even more evidence from Joan Walsh:
Democrats continue to draw the wrong lessons from the party's shellacking -- that they must move to the center and court independents. The Washington Post reports that the Obama team is "deeply concerned about winning back political independents, who supported Obama two years ago by an eight-point margin but backed Republicans for the House this year by 19 points. To do so, they think he must forge partnerships with Republicans on key issues and make noticeable progress on his oft-repeated campaign pledge to change the ways of Washington."
UPDATE III: Roger D. Hodge, former editor of Harper's Magazine and author of "The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism," was on MSNBC tonight and agreed with me.


Watch the whole clip, it's good. (Starts at 2:40) I really like the guest host, Chris Hayes, Washington correspondent of The Nation. The other guests are good too, Ari Berman, author of Herding Donkeys, and Adam Green, co-founder of Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

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