Obama WH finds culprit for midterm debacle

posted at 1:36 pm on November 5, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

In the corporate world, fixing blame is an art form, and the usual strategy is Pin the Tail on the Gone Guy.  Anything that goes wrong in the weeks following the departure of a significant organizational figure gets blamed on him or her.  It keeps the heat off of everyone else, and doesn’t usually do much damage to the person who has found greener pastures.

So guess who gets the blame inside the Obama White House for the midterm beating?

And his old colleagues in Washington aren’t too happy about it. Some of them shake their heads in disbelief that Emanuel would bolt at precisely the juncture when the Democrats needed to shape their strategy and message during the homestretch of what everyone knew would be the toughest election cycle in years.

“It was Rahm who always said, ‘We’ve just got to put points on the board,’ and that’s why we have a transactional presidency,” said one former colleague. “The only problem is that Obama is not a transactional politician. It was Rahm’s strategy and then he leaves a month before the election for his own personal political career. It’s extraordinary.”

After a month of running for mayor of Chicago, Emanuel took the time on Tuesday to call some of the defeated candidates, whose political careers he helped launch as part of the Democratic takeover in 2006.

But the fact remains: four years later, his class of ’06 is decimated and Emanuel has left Washington politics altogether.

Several lower-level White House aides say they’re still surprised that Emanuel would so readily follow his personal ambition instead of staying beside the many Democrats he helped elect in the foxhole in the final weeks of the campaign.

A senior Obama aide concedes that Emanuel’s congressional strategy was a mistake—that the White House ceded far too much authority to deeply unpopular Democrats on Capitol Hill. But this source says the president had no right to stop Emanuel’s personal ambition to become mayor of Chicago, not least because of the dedication he had shown to the White House as chief of staff. The economic headwinds were a far greater factor in the Dems’ defeat, in any event, this source says.

That may make for handy blame-shifting, but Rahm Emanuel was hardly the only person in the administration or the party that urged an all-or-nothing approach to ObamaCare.  Pundits on the left and key Democratic officials blamed the 1994 midterms on a failure to deliver, not their radical agenda to nationalize health care.  Even Bill Clinton went on the road to convince skeptical Democrats that the only way to save their seats was through self-immolation.

Now that the strategy has failed, though, someone has to take the blame, and as in most administrations, it won’t be the President.  In a real sense, that’s the role aides and Cabinet members fill — a firewall for blame to protect the boss.  (And in a lot of private-sector organizations as well.)  In fact, one of the complaints reported by Richard Wolffe at the Daily Beast is that Rahm didn’t stick around long enough to get fired, so that Obama could show sweeping changes in reaction to the massive rebuke delivered by voters.

Meanwhile, Howard Kurtz reports that people outside the White House are pointing much higher up the chain:

“His economic team needs to resign en masse,” James Carville declares. “They may have saved the country from a depression, the history books may treat them kindly, but the electorate didn’t treat them very kindly… None of our economic team could explain anything to anybody.” Tim Geithner, take note: The Cajun is on your case.

Obama’s signature failure, in Carville’s view, was failing to crack down on “greedy” Wall Street bankers: “That’s why the Democratic Party exists, to deal with that, and we just bailed them out and threw a Band-Aid over it.” ….

“The problem is Obama,” says Joe Trippi, who this fall helped Jerry Brown win his old job back in California and was a mastermind of Howard Dean’s 2004 campaign. “I don’t think he’s going to change. I don’t think he’s as adaptable as Clinton was.” Dean, he says, “could end up being one of the guys who continue to challenge Obama from the left as Boehner and the Tea Party are pulling him to the center.”

Rahm probably won’t suffice as a target for blameshifting.  His impact on Congressional action was significant, but in the service of Obama’s priorities and policies.  If any group has to fall on their swords, it will be the economic team, as Carville advises.  The election was fought on the economy and on policy, not on nuances of Capitol Hill interaction.  Unless Obama shows a significant housecleaning on policy, he won’t convince anyone that he listened to the voters.


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Where does the buck stop?

Electrongod on November 5, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Well they could hardly blame Bush for this one, could they?

cartooner on November 5, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Emanuel under the bus. Who woulda thunk it?

shick on November 5, 2010 at 1:40 PM

Got this email from Daily Kos…. it wasn’t Obama’s fault. It was blue dogs that acted like republicans. Yeah that’s the ticket.

Democrats suffered serious losses on Tuesday, but no one was hit harder than the corporatist Blue Dogs. Over half their members are gone. Apparently, being the GOP’s best friends on issue after issue wasn’t the political winner they claimed it was.

Don’t let the Blue Dogs take over. Sign the petition letting Nancy Pelosi know she has your support as Democratic leader in the House. Pelosi will decide whether to run for House Minority Leader within the next week, so she needs to hear from her supporters ASAP. At Daily Kos, we will deliver your signatures to her personally, so she knows you’ve got her back.

Pelosi led Democrats to historic victories in 2006 and 2008. We are confident she can reclaim her gavel in 2012. But to do so, she first has to ward off the Blue Dog threat.

The delusion runs deeper than I thought.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 1:41 PM

I think it was that he was not on TV/radio enough to convey his message./

tommer74 on November 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Rahm probably won’t suffice as a target for blameshifting.

In other words, they’re out of people to fire so they’re retreading Rahm as the fall guy for their problems. He’s just today’s “ass to kick.” Since Rahm likes to hang out in steamy locker rooms with his fingers on other men, he probably isn’t too bothered by this charge. Moreover, it’s a double plus for the WH with his Rev Wright friends…..Rahm’s a JooooooOoO

enjoy your time under the bus, Rahm.

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Obama will never accept responsibility publicly or privately. He won’t accept it in any way shape or form. When he gets back from his pigfest vacation in India he will demand the GOP come to heel. (Before they are even sworn in!)

dogsoldier on November 5, 2010 at 1:43 PM

When I took leadership training classes in JROTC in HS, we learned that a true leader takes responsibility for the actions of those that they lead.
We know what BO is.

Badger40 on November 5, 2010 at 1:43 PM

0bama needed a replacement scapegoat, since Pelosi won’t retire, he’ll need her good graces as minority leader.

But he must be pretty confident that Rahm won’t win in Chicago, because he’ll be needing that fraud machine to win Illinois for 2012.

Rebar on November 5, 2010 at 1:44 PM

BREAKING: Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay, MSNBC president Phil Griffin has announced.

amerpundit on November 5, 2010 at 1:44 PM

It matters not wether you win or lose . . .
But how you place the blame!

DuctTapeMyBrain on November 5, 2010 at 1:45 PM

I’ve also noticed that with narcissists, it’s always everybody else’s fault.

Badger40 on November 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM

In fact, one of the complaints reported by Richard Wolffe at the Daily Beast is that Rahm didn’t stick around long enough to get fired, so that Obama could show sweeping changes in reaction to the massive rebuke delivered by voters.

Rahm was too smart for that.

Wethal on November 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM

BREAKING: Keith Olbermann has been suspended indefinitely without pay, MSNBC president Phil Griffin has announced.

amerpundit on November 5, 2010 at 1:44 PM

that’s BS until you give a link.

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Where does the buck and bus stop?

Electrongod on November 5, 2010 at 1:39 PM

Apparently they both stop on anyone except the narcisist.

shick on November 5, 2010 at 1:47 PM

That photo makes me think of the devil one one shoulder and the angel on the other.

The problem here is that on the other shoulder sits Valerie Jarret, Rev Wrong and Bill ayers, etc. etc.

esnap on November 5, 2010 at 1:47 PM

“His economic team needs to resign en masse,” James Carville declares.

Uh, other than Jon Stewart’s colleague, Tim Geithner, I thought they already did resign.

Doughboy on November 5, 2010 at 1:48 PM

that’s BS until you give a link.

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Here.

amerpundit on November 5, 2010 at 1:48 PM

amerpundit on November 5, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Surely you jest?!?!?!?
If not-LMAO!
When are Ed & Chris going?

Badger40 on November 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/05/keith-olbermann-suspended_n_779586.html

Mark1971 on November 5, 2010 at 1:47 PM

Ohhhohohoh!….an around the world and back SNAP!

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Where does the buck stop?

Electrongod on November 5, 2010 at 1:39 PM

at numbered account in Zurich

darwin-t on November 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM

“His economic team needs to resign en masse,” James Carville declares. “They may have saved the country from a depression, the history books may treat them kindly, but the electorate didn’t treat them very kindly.”

If you look at the textbook definition of depression, we are in one.

Vashta.Nerada on November 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Whoa… There goes Rahm under the bus, Obama has no shame.

The Expert Knows

HAExpert on November 5, 2010 at 1:50 PM

Here.

amerpundit on November 5, 2010 at 1:48 PM

Damn. I was gonna half-jokingly post in the previous thread about Uberdouche that MSDNC could use this as an excuse to get out of paying his $7.5 million a year contract, but I’m no legal expert, so I thought it was a pipe dream. After reading this however, I’m wondering if they do have a way of weaseling out of it citing an ethics clause violation.

Doughboy on November 5, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Well they could hardly blame Bush for this one, could they?

cartooner on November 5, 2010 at 1:40 PM

What? Obama did blame Bush for this. He came right out and said people were frustrated with the economy, frustrated with the slow pace of change and then later on mentioned how he inherited this economy and saved us from a depression.

So, he did blame Bush for Democrats taking a “shellacking”.

ButterflyDragon on November 5, 2010 at 1:52 PM

Reported prior in the thread, but good news, everybody!


Keith Olbermann has been suspended from MSNBC without pay indefinitely.

LOL LOL LOL LOL

The fallout of the worst/best election evah continues.

Good Lt on November 5, 2010 at 1:52 PM

The delusion runs deeper than I thought.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 1:41 PM

A delusion always does.

I see delusional people and they don’t even know they are hallucinating. – The Sixth Sense paraphrased.

shick on November 5, 2010 at 1:52 PM

The rumor was that Emanuel was actually a moderating force within the administration, despite his big mouth.

In any case, he’s definitely deserving of a space in the Karma section under the bus.

Drained Brain on November 5, 2010 at 1:57 PM

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/05/keith-olbermann-suspended_n_779586.html

Mark1971 on November 5, 2010 at 1:47 PM

w00t!

He’s the Worst Person in the Woooooorld!

JetBoy on November 5, 2010 at 1:58 PM

Pelosi and Olberman all in one week. Is it Christmas?

ctmom on November 5, 2010 at 1:58 PM

The delusion runs deeper than I thought.

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 1:41 PM

Not delusion. This is how they think:

- Poor people aren’t poor because of their own lack of effort, choices made in school and life, etc. Poor people are poor because rich people hold them down . . .

- America isn’t attacked because there are evil people in the world, we brought it on ourselves. Yet, women dressed in next to nothing aren’t “asking for it.”

- Women who get pregnant when they don’t want to be are victims, not people who made a bad choice about sex.

- Voters in 2004 didn’t use their brains to vote for Bush, they were scared into it.

- People who go bankrupt due to a major surprise healthcare issue and had no health insurance are a victim of health insurance companies, even though those people most likely had thousands of dollars of debt for 2 or more flat screen TV’s and two new cars, the max mortgage they could qualify for, etc. It’s not their fault that they chose toys and luxuries over making a health care premium payment, it’s those evil insurance companies faults.

- The people losing their houses to foreclosure that got their loans with no doc loans or signed on to adjustable rate mortgages with huge interest rates/balloons are, yes, victims of the banks, not idiots.

So, of course, their failure is not because their policies suck, it’s because Americans are stupid and they didn’t educate them enough . . .

PastorJon on November 5, 2010 at 1:59 PM

According to certain GOP bloggers, the culprit is…
Christine O’Donnell.

james23 on November 5, 2010 at 2:02 PM

Why are the aides surprised? This is how thugs work.

fossten on November 5, 2010 at 2:03 PM

The goons under the bus go THUMP THUMP THUMP…

fusionaddict on November 5, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Obammunism is what is wrong.

tarpon on November 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

“His economic team needs to resign en masse,” James Carville declares. “They may have saved the country from a depression, the history books may treat them kindly, but the electorate didn’t treat them very kindly…

I think Mr. Carville lives in a different universe (this IS, after all, November 5, a time nexus), but in this universe, the Democrats caused the depression we are now in, via their creatures Freddie and Fannie, and they’ve punished and restrained everyone but said creatures.

unclesmrgol on November 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Unless Obama shows a significant housecleaning on policy, he won’t convince anyone that he listened to the voters.

Hell, you and I both know that Barry isn’t going to change his “policy”. He’s a One-Trick-Pony.

GarandFan on November 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

“It was Rahm who always said, ‘We’ve just got to put points on the board,’ and that’s why we have a transactional presidency,” said one former colleague. “The only problem is that Obama is not a transactional politician. It was Rahm’s strategy and then he leaves a month before the election for his own personal political career. It’s extraordinary.”
===========================

I can’t wait till Rahm fires back!!

canopfor on November 5, 2010 at 2:04 PM

Soooooooooooo,thats why Rahm,never got on the Titanic!!

canopfor on November 5, 2010 at 2:05 PM

It’s the policies, stupid.

Dhuka on November 5, 2010 at 2:05 PM

It was the stupid message…………..

-Hopey/Changey

canopfor on November 5, 2010 at 2:06 PM

Slightly OT: Wow!

ConservativePartyNow on November 5, 2010 at 2:06 PM

BREAKING…………………………..

OLBIE SUSPENDED ON MSNBC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

canopfor on November 5, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Rahm is most likely taking a constipationatorial POV on this………….namely he could give a s**t!

pilamaye on November 5, 2010 at 2:13 PM

Watch for Grayson to be given a contract.

Lanceman on November 5, 2010 at 2:14 PM

So,Obama is still in DENIAL,in ‘BUNKER MENTALITY’!!

canopfor on November 5, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Watch for Grayson to be given a contract.

Lanceman on November 5, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Lancemen:Lol,D*mmitt LM,too funny!:)

canopfor on November 5, 2010 at 2:16 PM

I would normally be the last person to defend Rahm Emanuael, but it was he who adopted the strategy of recruiting relatively “centrist”, conservative-on-some-issues Democrat candidates in swing districts prior to the 2006 election, which gave Democrats the House majority in 2006 and 2008. Emanuel was also lukewarm on the health-care bill, while it was Obama and Pelosi who insisted on forcing it through the House despite resistance from the Stupak group, even though it had become radioactive with the electorate.

So, the mastermind of the 2006 majority gets blamed for losing it. Funny, the Democrats didn’t have any trouble increasing their majority when Bush was President! Meanwhile, the Blue Dogs who had campaigned on deficit-cutting in 2006 were forced to vote for huge spending increases, and voters punished them for not doing as they promised, or as a brake on Obama / Pelosi.

First Mate Emanuel to Captain Obama: Iceberg ahead!

Captain Obama: D@mn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

After which Emanuel takes the first lifeboat to Chicago.

Steve Z on November 5, 2010 at 2:24 PM

The house is burning while the Dems point fingers at each other.

Cicero43 on November 5, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Rahm Emanuel didn’t resign because he was following his personal ambitions to become mayor of Chicago. He resigned because the President and all the President’s people knew the backlash against against Obamacare and the stimulus package/payoff to the base would cost them the House. They saw this coming two years ago. Turning virtually every aspect of their health care reform package over to Pelosi and Reid was a strategic decision, a way of deflecting, redirecting, and containing the blame.

Rahm Emmanuel and other high-level staffers probably drew straws in the Oval Office to see which one would take the political hit for the President. Emmanuel evidently drew the short straw and got the city of Chicago as a consolation prize. Think about it: no one but the President could have persuaded Mayor Daley to resign.

All I want to know is the name of the political strategist responsible for the intricate, multi-tiered planning all of this entailed. I find it hard to believe the man behind the curtain is our teleprompter president.

troyriser_gopftw on November 5, 2010 at 2:31 PM

Ohhhohohoh!….an around the world and back SNAP!

ted c on November 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM

One of the few things on earth that rate the word; “BOOYAH”

esnap on November 5, 2010 at 2:32 PM

The fallout of the worst/best election evah continues.

Good Lt on November 5, 2010 at 1:52 PM

I want some more!

Badger40 on November 5, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Liberal Inquisition begins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
===============================================

Spanish Inquisition-Monty Python!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gldlyTjXk9A

canopfor on November 5, 2010 at 2:42 PM

So the tagline is not “I won” but “Blame Rahm”?

Obviously, Rahm didn’t clarify the messgage to the ungifted masses and to clearly explain his left wing, unwanted ideas to us rubes OR we don’t want the crap they’re shoveling.

dthorny on November 5, 2010 at 2:46 PM

All I want to know is the name of the political strategist responsible for the intricate, multi-tiered planning all of this entailed. I find it hard to believe the man behind the curtain is our teleprompter president.

troyriser_gopftw on November 5, 2010 at 2:31 PM

George Soros again.

dthorny on November 5, 2010 at 2:48 PM

Got this email from Daily Kos….

angryed on November 5, 2010 at 1:41 PM

I recommend fungicide and bleach. Lots and lots of bleach.

hillbillyjim on November 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

Uh, sorry WH spin machine, not buying it.

See, this from another HA post today:

A 2008 New Yorker article quoted Patrick Gaspard, now the White House political director, describing what Obama told him during the job interview: “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.”

Okay, so he’s the point of the spear when taking credit but, when the army’s wiped out, he was in the latrine?

Which is he, the smartest man to have ever walked the earth (yes, sarcasm dripping) or a clueless puppet manipulated by his inept handlers in the West Wing?

I’d say clueless is a good start. The biggest problem with that answer is, he’s also clueless about being clueless.

See, when kids think they’re Superman, they run, thrown their arms skyward and leap, only to clunk back to earth. This guy, somehow, actually thinks he’s flying. Even after he’s crashed.

That’s not clueless. That’s delusional and borderline psychopathic.

IndieDogg on November 5, 2010 at 3:04 PM

‘Some of them shake their heads in disbelief that Emanuel would bolt at precisely the juncture when the Democrats needed to shape their strategy.’

Emanuel is not a stupid person.

percysunshine on November 5, 2010 at 3:07 PM

The buck stops there…not here.

albill on November 5, 2010 at 3:10 PM

Doughboy on November 5, 2010 at 1:51 PM

Soon to be hired by NPR.

chemman on November 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Okay, so he’s the point of the spear when taking credit but, when the army’s wiped out, he was in the latrine?

IndieDogg on November 5, 2010 at 3:04 PM

It is no coincidence that Frum admired Obama as ‘leading from the rear’.

Sir Napsalot on November 5, 2010 at 3:47 PM

Would anyone be surprised to find out that Obama has a “The Buck Stops There” sign on his desk?

SoRight on November 5, 2010 at 3:59 PM

P A L O M I N O !

hillbillyjim on November 5, 2010 at 4:37 PM

But if Geithner goes, who’s he going to call? Jon Stewart?

taznar on November 5, 2010 at 4:50 PM

So now that the Blue Dog Democrats are gone, and now that the Moderate Republicans are gone, who’s left? Brace yourselves ladies and gentlemen, there’s a showdown coming somewhere soon and it’s going to be a very exciting ride because there’s nobody in the middle to cushion the impact.
The center has collapsed and two ends of the spectrum are purifying. The battle is coming!

Lew on November 5, 2010 at 7:15 PM

International bankers, Rahm, hmmm guess whos next. Now that he’s got no teeth in DC watch him start gumming up the ME. 2014 can’t come soon enough.

Rea1ityCheck on November 5, 2010 at 11:37 PM