It’s about time

Recess appointments?  An actual legislative victory despite GOP brinkmanship?

It appears the president has found his balls.

And not a moment too soon.  It’s time to remind people why the GOP can’t be trusted with governance.

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Two anecdotes

I’ve had so many things on my mind relating to cluster known as the 2010 midterms, but today two independent things, small and insignificant, really brought home to me what happened to the Democrats this year.

First off, coming home from work I had an envelope in the mail addressed to me.  It lists “President Barack Obama” and “Democratic Headquarters” as the sender and has in big letters, “Deadline: October 29”  Note, today is November 3, the day after the election.

Naturally it’s asking me for money to help with the final days of the election.

“A day late and a dollar short” goes a long way toward how the Obama administration has governed, and particularly in how it is managing its relations with the base.

Next anecdote, I was sitting in the jacuzzi at the gym after working out this evening and there were several elderly gentlemen speaking about yesterday’s election and a couple of them were just droolingly upset about Obamacare, knowing their pensions and health care are being taken away from them, etc.  I tried to engage them for a few minutes, but it really was futile.  They have been fed a lot of nonsense by opportunists trying to scare them and sell them stuff.  It didn’t matter what the facts were, they were scared and livid and by damn, they voted.

It’s easy to talk about how the Democrats have squandered Howard Dean’s work with the Fifty State Strategy.  It’s easy to talk about how independent thinkers and donors and doers have been discouraged in an attempt to centralize and micromanage.  It’s easy to talk about how the White House strategy is too timid, too aloof, and too willing to compromise.  It’s been done before, and how it’s not speculation, we know the result.

A day late, a millions of dollars short, and the agenda up for grabs for the next two years.  Why were the Republicans allowed to control terms of debate?  A dispirited base has consequences, letting the teabaggers lie through their teeth and outright make things up without challenge has consequences.

  1. The 2008 electorate was 74% white, plus 13% black and 9% Latino. The 2010 numbers were 78, 10 and 8. So it was a considerably whiter electorate.
  2. In 2008, 18-to-29-year-olds made up 18% and those 65-plus made up 16%. Young people actually outvoted old people. This year, the young cohort was down to 11%, and the seniors were up to a whopping 23% of the electorate. That’s a 24-point flip.
  3. The liberal-moderate-conservative numbers in 2008 were 22%, 44% and 34%. Those numbers for yesterday were 20%, 39% and 41%. A big conservative jump, but in all likelihood because liberals didn’t vote in big numbers.

The fall of in young and minority voters can’t be understated.  Yes, Sharon Angle is a moron, but Harry Reid will remain a US Senator because he got 90% of the Latino vote.  Nearly comparable  numbers have been reported in California and Colorado which were also relative bright spots for Democrats.

Polls showed before and after the vote that people like Republicans less than Democrats.  They voted for them anyway.  The election was the Democrats’ to lose, and lose they did.

But there are some bright spots.  Yes we had help from the Tea Party, but the Senate held.  Many of the worst of the worst Tea Party candidates lost.  Sarah Palin’s endorsements turned out to be less than golden.

Better still, the remaining House Democrats are, in fact, better Democrats overall.  And Senate Democrats, being farther from the “magical” sixty, are less dependent on individual senators to allow things to get done, perhaps making it more difficult for individual troublemakers to hold legislation hostage.  Time will tell, but there is cause to be cautiously optimistic for the next couple years.

Of course, there’s the down side….election 2012 is now underway.

Presidential Imposter

From satirist Andy Borowitz:

Democrats to Employ Man Who Played Obama During 2008 Campaign

Would Hit Campaign Trail in Place of President

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) – With just a month remaining until the crucial midterm elections, worried Democrats have decided to reach out to the man who played Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, Democratic Party officials confirmed today.

“We were sitting around thinking of who we could put out there on the campaign trail to get people energized again,” said party chairman Tim Kaine.  “And then I was like, what about that guy who played Obama in ’08?  He was amazing!”

While Democratic incumbents have been shying away from appearing with President Obama at rallies in recent weeks, they are “totally jazzed” about making joint appearances with the man who portrayed Obama in 2008, Kaine said.

“When we put the word out that we were reaching out to the guy who used to play Obama, the reaction was phenomenal,” he said.  “People were like, I loved that guy.”

Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold echoed the sentiment of many Democratic officeholders when he heard that the man who played Obama during the 2008 race might be hitting the road again soon: “I was leery about appearing with the President onstage, but that other guy, come on, he was unbelievable.”

According to preliminary plans, the guy who played Obama in 2008 would be used to fire up huge crowds in key races, while the actual President Obama would remain behind in Washington giving boring speeches about electronic medical records.

Fox News offered scant coverage of the Democrats’ plans, other than to report that neither President Obama nor the man who played him in 2008 was born in the US.

About Obama’s base problem

My friend Mike recently posted about Obama’s gay problem.  Some good thoughts, but a little extension is necessary to get things in full perspective..

Obama does not have a problem with gays, he has a problem with the base across the board and that is largely because he is under performing across the board.  That under performing has a real cost in the enthusiasm gap.

If people turned out in 2010 at 2008 levels, the democrats would be outright winning in NC and very, very competitive in half a dozen other close races.  As it stands we will probably hold the senate, but just barely.

Obama has not played hardball with Conservadems, let alone the GOP.  He negotiates away the store before even coming to the table.  He has not made proper use of reconciliation in the Senate, and has not been forceful about electoral consequences for the party of NO.  He has not been active in shaping policy and in selling policy in Congress.

He has not used his executive powers.  He could order a stop loss on DADT, he does not.  He could choose to not defend anti gay legislation in court, he does not.  HAMP is under *administrative* control and could work well if Obama choose to make it so.  Congress voted down the idea of a Social Security panel, Obama convened one anyway then stacked it with conservatives.  He could restore habeas corpus, he does not.

Obama has direct control of TARP funds, and there are about $500 billion to play with.  That’s a lot of stimulus IF he were to use it.  He could use it to relieve distressed debt and turn a profit for the government while doing so.  He could go after banks gouging customers by skirting credit card rules.    He can be actively involved and up front in pushing an agenda.

Another thing to consider wrt civil rights, as many people have noted recently, it’s embarrassing when many prominent GOP leaders are to the left of Obama on gay rights.  It’s embarrassing when in debates such as Fiorina/Boxer the other night the GOP candidate justifies their opposition to equal rights by quoting the sitting Democratic president.

And gays have started to notice.  You see, preferring one’s own gender does lead one toward certain conclusions on civil rights but does little to inform one’s opinions on taxation, protecting the environment, energy policy, immigration, etc.  I think it’s fair to say that a lot of gays lean democratic not because they are innately liberal so much as they see few options as the GOP has been so gawd awful hostile toward gays the last couple decades.

In a recent column Dan Savage observes that for all the rhetoric and chest beating over the past electoral cycles, the Democrats have done very little good, and the Republicans have done relatively little harm, at least in terms of revoking such advances as have been made.  Bush got a blank check from Congress, yet we have no federal marriage amendment, and DADT and DOMA were Democratic inventions.  Savage asks:

Say the GOP went to gay voters and promised to do no harm—no FMA, no more culture war nonsense, no efforts to block gay people from becoming parents—while at the same time pointing out that the Dems haven’t done much good. That argument won’t peel lefty and progressive gays and lesbians, a.k.a. the majority of gay and lesbian voters, off the Democrats. But it might convince conservative homos that they can safely vote Republican, blunting the Democrats’ advantage with small-but-significant chunk of the electorate. (There are more gay and lesbian voters than Jewish voters.)

It’s something the Democrats need to be considering.

The base is demoralized, feeling neglected and abused if not outright mislead.  That’s not good.  Obama got people out because they felt they had something to vote for.  That’s not the case this year for Democrats.  And they will pay in November if something doesn’t change, and change soon.