Skip ahead to 5:00 for the key bit, which has me at a loss. On the one hand, this is the second time in four days that Dean-o is wildly off-message from the White House, which of course is why both CNN and The Hill are trumpeting his remarks here. Intriguing stuff, to be sure. On the other hand, the thrust of what he’s saying is that the White House is out of touch with … progressives. Note to Dean: It ain’t disaffected lefties who are preparing to destroy the Democrats in November. Or am I not giving him enough credit, and this is actually his way of acknowledging, however glancingly, that the White House is out of touch with center-right concerns too? Remember, this is the guy who’s been warning liberals that the 65 percent of Americans who oppose the Ground Zero mosque can’t all be bigots.
Beyond all that, he’s letting Obama off the hook. Apart from Gibbs’s shot at the “professional left” — which not only went unchallenged by The One but which Gibbs was free to double down on the next day — what evidence is there that O’s advisors have Beltway myopia but he doesn’t? Here’s a choice bit from Politico on how his decision to publicly support the Ground Zero mosque was made. I don’t see anything about Axelrod having to twist his arm:
Obama, a former Constitutional law professor with a personal sensitivity to issues of religious freedom, was already leaning toward a statement of support, fully aware of the political consequences.
For several days leading up to the Ramadan speech, Obama and his inner circle had been discussing how or whether to publicly address the issue, which seemed to be dying down in the New York tabloids.
A few days before, Obama erased any doubt. He opened his weekly Oval Office senior staff meeting by informing the group which included Jarrett, Axelrod, Senior Adviser Pete Rouse, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel of his plans to go public…
Prior to the decision, Emanuel and Obama’s communications staff vividly — and presciently — predicted that Obama would be handing Republicans a weapon to batter Democrats as weak-kneed on terrorism three months before the midterms, according to several people familiar with the situation.
No one opposed the decision (on the contrary, Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett both supported it), but there’s nothing here about O needing any persuading. So much for being in touch with the public.
It’s worth watching the whole clip to see Dean praise Obama’s relentless use of that dumb “car” metaphor on the trail and to suggest once again that the reason ObamaCare’s polling badly is because the bill hasn’t been made progressive enough yet. (He also predicts they’ll hold the House, albeit with a hugely reduced majority.) This is precisely the sort of spin you’ll hear after the midterms even if the GOP picks up 40 seats; anything short of an historic victory will be waved away as a product of the terrible economy and as no reflection at all on the Democrats’ policies. If you want to make them pay attention, it’s going to take an utterly crushing landslide. Gird your loins.