We’re slightly mystified by the euphoric gushing in the Blathersphere ™ about Obama’s address to the House GOP in Baltimore. So Ezra Klein wets his pants. Chuck Todd breaks monotone and offers rare emotional range beyond a Disney animatronic mannequin. Heavens above ! Pull out the 64 font on Huff Post (and make sure not to forget the daily soft focus picture of Arianna on the page again). Get real.
1) It’s the House. Max Baucus is a senator. So is Snowe, Reid, Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Joementum, etc. Obama is posturing to the wrong crowd.
The House minority (margin permitting) is *always* ignored. It was true under Dems until 1994. So with Repubs 1994-2006. That’s what the Rules Committee is all about – majority rules. So Republicans saying ‘No’ in the House to Obama/Dems is irrelevant. That’s the whole point of legislative tectonics in D.C. Everyone *always* goes for the most extreme version of legislation they can get in the House. It’s ultra radical because all know it will go to the Senate to either die or get watered down, before even more compromise in conference. D.C. pros know if a ‘weak’ bill passes the House the ’cause’ it stands for likely will get strangled in the proverbial cradle.
2) They’re House Republicans. Hectoring them is pointless. Purple states are meaningless nostrums. They’re in heavily gerrymandered districts. These members are riding — or hope to ride — the back of the Tea Party/anti-incumbent/Rush/Beck/anti-Democratic tiger. They’re afraid of the riotous, chaotic trip just as much as they are dismounting. Sure they can see the whole anger thing may explode in ruin. But they know for sure that agreeing with Obama and the Dems *now* is polling and focus group death. No matter how professorial, conversationally dominant Obama may have come across via the cable micro audiences. It’s not going to alter the reams of polling data back at the office that says across all tabs ‘screw with him’.
Fox News people long ago realized that *they* are the Rightist ‘party’ now. (Outsiders like Rush tolerated in public but privately derisively labelled by some as ‘the Chairman’). We’d be more impressed if Obama showed up after purchasing one share and took on News Corp at an annual meeting.
Repeating this stunt won’t reverse the situation in November. Just ask President Adlai Stevenson. Obama ( via Rahm) can’t even coral House Dems re the Senate health plan. It was House Dems who passed an irresponsible, hollow ‘financial reform’ bill. Not Cantor. And so on. Which brings us to point three.
3) They’re House Republicans. They’re hapless. We know that. Holding their heads at arms length while they swing at him reaching only air harmlessly loses its impact after 15 seconds. Then it becomes oddly pathetic – for the tormentor.
4) Obama still doesn’t get it. American politics is not a faculty club debate. The ‘wider’ audience he allegedly spoke to outside the room? We suspect they tuned out already. More frickin’ words from ‘The Community Organizer’/Betrayer/’Inside Baseball Guy’. He still doesn’t understand Power and how to use it. It’s not just the nihilist Right who sees this. His own base is disgusted. Once again, his problem Year One was not the House or even Tea Baggers. He was his problem. And Ezra Klein notwithstanding, euphoric media isn’t going to save the House in 2010.
5) Does anyone believe Obama has any core convictions anymore?