Via Becket Adams, see for yourself below. I really did laugh out loud. My memory’s hazy on whether it was Dubya or Bill Clinton, but I remember reading years ago an account of a joint press conference held by the presidents of the United States and China. At one point, someone asked the Chinese leader a question he didn’t want to answer, so … he didn’t. He just paused silently after the question was finished and waited for a question more to his liking, which apparently was common practice in China. Debbie’s not quite at that point yet but she’s getting close: Lately, when asked an uncomfortable question about the relationship between Senate Democrats and The One, she opts to answer an imaginary question more to her liking instead. Three times in the span of 90 seconds here, Halperin and Heilemann ask her which competitive Senate races Obama is involved with. Three times, she answers the question as though they’d asked her about competitive races generally — gubernatorial, House, whatever. It’s like asking someone what their favorite type of doughnut is and having them answer, repeatedly, that Eggo is their waffle brand of choice. W-w-w-what?
Maybe there’s an explanation, though.
A party and its president often go their separate ways during the final years of a second term, and Democrats say they appreciate Obama’s decision to avoid campaigning in competitive states. But that doesn’t do much to soften frustration with what they describe as near-political malpractice by the White House, basic missteps that some blame on an insular president who they say takes advice from aides with little campaign experience. “Folks are beginning to scapegoat and second guess, but there are plenty of reasons to do that,” said strategist Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “President Obama doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. He seemingly floats above it all.”…
The most recent item on the list is an interview Obama did this week with Rev. Al Sharpton, in which the president said that even the vulnerable Democrats who are trying to keep their distance are all “folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress.” Though the comment may motivate black voters – a key part of the Democratic base – it infuriates campaign strategists, who say Obama basically fed a major Republican attack line.
“You can’t do those things in a vacuum anymore,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons, even if “it will help turn out your core voters.”…
But Democrats’ biggest outrage stems from a speech Obama gave earlier this month, when a remark that his “policies are on the ballot” turned an economic speech into a potent attack ad. The remark was pre-scripted, further enraging campaign strategists when they learned it was not a spontaneous gaffe. Even friends couldn’t defend the comment. “I wouldn’t put that line there,” acknowledged the president’s campaign guru, David Axelrod, on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” calling it a “mistake.”
My assumption all month has been that Obama was pushing his “this election is about me” talking point with the full support of Democratic candidates. It was a desperation ploy: They’re in trouble, they’re not winning over undecideds, so now the only move left to make is to give loyal O-bots a reason to turn out in force on election day. Democratic leaders had huddled and agreed that that was the only way forward. After all surely the White House wouldn’t just foist that strategy on unsuspecting Senate Dems without their assent, right? Looks like, yep, they would. No wonder Debbie can barely bring herself to acknowledge Obama’s existence here. I bet a lot of Democratic staffers feel the same way.