Obama AWOL – Get Used To It

The Walking Dead

We always liked working with Jim Moran. He’s like all of us, imperfect (yes, yes, we know). For all of that he’s a straight shooter. So when The Hill says “This is a lack of leadership on the part of Obama,” Moran (D-Va.) “I don’t know where the f*** Obama is on this or anything else. They’re AWOL”, we sympathize.

We also smiled seeing Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) declare “Our caucus will not submit to hostage taking and we will not submit to this deal.” Inslee is a class act and walks the walk. We worked with him and his office on legislation during the Clinton years to overcome the usual Clintonian deference to financial service interests at the expense of consumers. Both Moran and Inslee have seen this movie before, having been in the minority 1994-2006.

But both also know far more than pundits that House Dems are the real Walking Dead. They got bit. Sure, they got bitten in large measure after carrying Obama’s water for two years with no political cover from him. Obama was worse than absent; his political abstinence actually galvanized the Movement’s rise. So House Dems got screwed twice over. Remember how easily Gibbs tossed off losing the House this past summer. Like complaining about remembering to rotate car tires.

To survive the Walking Dead the rules are clear. Self-preservation is the new good, especially if one strikes a moral pose. As Atwater said, once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made. Obama knows Moran, Inslee — any of them — are gone. Toast. Like any Walker, they’ll just stagger around aimlessly, lifelessly and pose no threat. Walkers are dangerous only gathered en mass. Like say, a House majority. Even then, as we saw, he didn’t really care anyway.

Over at Kos they’re noting per NYT that Obama’s EPA is already postponing new regulations to please corporate interests and climate change deniers. The Kos folks express a desire for policy based on science. Touching, that hope. How’s that audacity tasting now?

Obama Does Have A Napoleon Complex, Just The Wrong One

For Obama to flog audacity in 2008 like a Taco Bell jingle, we can be pardoned thinking we’d see some kind of Napoleonic fire. Audacity changed history at Austerlitz. At Marengo. Even Dresden in the end game. Napoleon’s domestic reforms audaciously modernized the French civil code and transformed Europe as a whole. (Obama’s a constitutional scholar, didn’t you know?).

Alas, no. Wrong Napoleon. Audacity? We got a 2 year-long Michael Cera movie. Turned out we got Napoleon III. You know, the one whom von Moltke and Prussia crushed at Sedan in 1870. After capturing that Napoleon, Bismarck went on to forge the new German Reich dictated in Versailles. The Movement didn’t show such military or political genius crushing Obama’s ‘audacity of hope’. But it’s hard not to see Obama today in his own Sedan, surrounded by enemies, surrendering to circumstances of his own making, economy aside.

Of course, permanent government types see Obama’s steely disregard for the Democratic Walking Dead and Rightward lurch as the smart play for 2012. Let’s assume that Obama’s problems are really the economy, not his political abdication and disengagement. Krugman plays it out as a thought experiment. Conceding the initial political premise, he deconstructs the actual economics and timing:

Unemployment benefits aside, all of this is very much second-best policy: consumers would probably spend only part of the payroll tax break, and it’s unclear whether the business break would do much to spur investment given the excess capacity in the economy. Still, it would be a noticeable net positive for the economy next year.

But here’s the thing: while the bad stuff in the deal lasts for two years, the not-so-bad stuff expires at the end of 2011. This means that we’re talking about a boost to growth next year — but growth in 2012 that would actually be slower than in the absence of the deal.

This has big political implications. Political scientists tell us that voting is much more strongly affected by the economy’s direction in the year or less preceding an election than by how well the nation is doing in some absolute sense.

When Ronald Reagan ran for re-election in 1984, the unemployment rate was almost exactly the same as it had been just before the 1980 election — but because the economic trend in 1980 was down while the trend in 1984 was up, an unemployment rate that spelled defeat for Jimmy Carter translated into landslide victory for Reagan.

This political reality makes the tax deal a bad bargain for Democrats. Think of it this way: The deal essentially sets up 2011-2012 to be a repeat of 2009-2010. Once again, there would be initial benefits from the stimulus, and decent growth a year before the election. But as the stimulus faded, growth would tend to stall — and this stall would, once again, come in the months leading up to the election, with seriously negative consequences for Mr. Obama and his party.

Obama in that case screws himself — and all Non-Rightists, again. There goes the Senate to boot. He will have no one else to blame. Not the Walking Dead shuffling in the House minority. Not his volunteers. Not his financial supporters. Ultimately, not even the voters.

Just him.


  1. Comment says

    Being one angry brotha might not be Obama’s style – but it would be better than Boehner’ ridiculous crying spells, imo. Impossible to imagine a Dem getting away over crying about nothing on 60 min – irrespective of race.

  2. Redhand says

    @Dr Leo Strauss Fascinating. For me the money quote in the piece is this absolute gem:

    One progressive commentator played an excerpt from a Harry Truman speech during which Truman screamed about the Republican Party to great applause. He recommended this style to Mr. Obama. If President Obama behaved that way, he’d be dismissed as an angry black militant with a deep hatred of white people. His grade would go from a B- to a D.

    The logic here is breathtaking. Even though the guy got elected, if he tries to do anything forceful in office he’ll be rejected because he’s black!? Ipso facto, Obama and any black president in future is condemned in advance by the electorate to Uncle Tom-foolery should he attempt to do something?!

    Ah, I wonder who the real “racist” is here. As a white Irish American, I’d prefer the “angry black man” right about now.

  3. Dr Leo Strauss says

    It’s a puzzle. But then when reading the NYT today, it was explained that wanting Obama to stand for something, to fight for something, to engage in the actual practice of politics with opponents determined to destroy him was really just *our* racism. (If one knew the Stiftung personally that would be laughable in the extreme).


  4. Redhand says

    I haven’t quite figured out why John Cole over at BJ continues to defend Obama. The more I see of Obama the more I cringe.

    Recall during the health care debate that he was on the tube and said he would prefer to be a one-term president who is successful rather than a two-term president who doesn’t do anything. I’m beginning to think he’s given up already on on the second term, on the theory that his flawed HCR bill satisfies his “success” criteria.

    Even if he somehow wins, he’s been a colossal disappointment: either a lying sack of shit relative to his campaign rhetoric, or a complete weakling utterly lacking the courage of his convictions. Think John Paul Jones’ “I have not yet begun to fight” when in fact the guy never does fire back. Pathetic.

  5. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Good on you, Bernie Sanders. Robert Byrd looking down, recalling his own lonely warnings on the Floor about creeping Bush authoritarianism, would give you an atta boy.

  6. Comment says

    We have a lot of problems with deal – but we do think it will broadly help Obama in the next election. Obviously we’re guessing – But Krugman has been off politically for years – even when he correctly analyzes the public policy problem. Krugman alternates between noticing and illuminating the growth of the oligarchy and dominance of special interest – These are facts – sad facts – But Obama cannot ignore that and Krugman pretends he can. He has to surf the wave. Now especially – because he is heading into an election where the spending against him will be explosive. So Obama has to pick and choose carefully. IMO the health care bill was better than we expected and we were surprised he got some aspects of it and we know the insurance companies will try to evade. But the structural change is in place and that’s why the GOP was so worried. So to make up for the deficit Krugman worries about – the cred deficit = That will have to come from unexpected victories down the road. Also – some (not all) of the Dems against Obama are using this as an excuse – They had other problems with him. But they’ll come around. Only Mitt Romney (imo) has a chance if the economy is heading in the right direction – Romney will have trouble getting the nomination because he is an insincere, smarmy, hack pol. But if he does get the nomination – the silent ruling class will feel they have one of their own and they’ll ignore his lies and flip flops boo boos and just remind themselves he was a good Gov in Mass and he’ll be safe when he gets in.

  7. Comment says

    Tweety has Moran on now – He always has Moran, because Moran has the old school Irish neighborhood pol shctick down pat. Right out of central casting. Like Irish pols of days old, everyone knows he is very human – perhaps too human. But the old fella is just one of the b’hoys as our ward healing great grandpa would say.

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