Sorry, but this isn’t “change you can believe in.”…
Obama promised to change Washington’s culture. Instead, his White House counsel justified the White House move by pointing out that past White Houses have done Sestak-type deals, though he offered no examples.
Charlie Cook, analyzing the current political environment, pointed out in a recent report that, “long-serving Democratic members of Congress identified as having ‘gone Washington’ are especially under threat.” Presumably, the same holds for short-serving Democratic presidents.
In times of crisis, you get a public reaction that is incoherence on stilts. On the one hand, most people know that the government is not in the oil business. They don’t want it in the oil business. They know there is nothing a man in Washington can do to plug a hole a mile down in the gulf.
On the other hand, they demand that the president “take control.” They demand that he hold press conferences, show leadership, announce that the buck stops here and do something. They want him to emote and perform the proper theatrical gestures so they can see their emotions enacted on the public stage.
They want to hold him responsible for things they know he doesn’t control. Their reaction is a mixture of disgust, anger, longing and need. It may not make sense. But it doesn’t make sense that the country wants spending cuts and doesn’t want cuts, wants change and doesn’t want change.
The centrifugal force exerted on conservative leaders toward the extreme wing of their party is bound to lead to even more magnified rhetoric in the next few years. The contrast between those excessive attacks and Obama’s famous cool will serve him, and the Democrats, well.
Within the overheated conservative bubble there is little room for discussions of serious policy alternatives to deal with America’s problems, reminders that the country is typically drawn to optimistic candidates (like Reagan and Obama) and weighty appeals to the center of the electorate. If Obama is the worst President ever, as conservatives seem to believe, why do they need to say anything more than that to take control of Congress and then get rid of him? But while the conservatives’ ultimate condemnation rallies their core supporters and resonates with some centrist voters, over time it is unlikely to produce a majority against the Administration.
It can’t be pleasant for Obama to be the subject of such attacks. And solving the country’s major problems in a bipartisan fashion will be difficult under these rancorous circumstances. But as long as those trying to beat him are blind to the fact that tens of millions of voting Americans think Obama is doing a fine job, this President has a great ally in his enemies.