Woodward: Senate Democrats are sick of Obama, too

Alternate headline: Obama brings consensus to Capitol Hill. Even when Bob Woodward floated this nugget on CBS’ Face the Nation yesterday during the panel discussion, it wasn’t really news. The soon-to-be Senate Minority Leader’s chief of staff ripped Barack Obama after his boss saw the eight-year majority crash to an end on Tuesday. When David Krone accused Obama of paying “lip service” to Senate Democrats and blame his “barely 40 percent approval rating” for the disaster, it was pretty clear that Krone’s attitude didn’t come out of the blue, if readers will pardon the pun. The White House tried tamping down reports of a feud as an issue entirely localized to Krone, but Bloomberg also noted that Reid’s office didn’t shy away from pushing the Washington Post story with Krone’s remarks out to social media accounts. Bloomberg’s Lisa Lerer also noted that the sentiment against Obama wasn’t limited to the upper chamber, either:

The details of Krone’s story are a bit complicated, but the sentiments certainly aren’t: Congressional Democrats, who’ve long felt unappreciated by the Obama White House, know the president is weakened by the midterm losses. They’re trying to deflect the blame—and seizing on the chance to finally take their private gripes public. That means the White House can probably look forward to a lot more stories like this one, unless they can find away to smooth relations among their own on Capitol Hill. But with just two years left, they may have already lost their chance.

Woodward confirms that second-term Obama is a uniter, all right:


Schieffer: I’m wondering about the talk after this election, I think the President’s relations with the Democrats in the Senate may be as bad as his relations with the Republicans.

Woodward: That’s absolutely true. You get the Democrats in private, and they are on fire! Just cause he won’t spend the time, because he won’t listen. Peggy [Noonan] said yesterday in her column, and I think there is real truth here: humility is power. And after you lose, you have to come out and kind of face up to that. And there’s a whole undercurrent in the President’s approach that, well, you know, it was bad but, you know, that was worse than bad. And I think, optimistically, I think he’s capable — and as you’re suggesting — he’s capable of changing and engaging in that outreach, and he just needs to do it and kind of get out of this bubble that he seems to be living in.

The “humility is power” comment relates to Obama’s attempt to dodge responsibility for the loss in the immediate aftermath of the elections. On the same show where Woodward made these remarks, Obama tried walking back his Wednesday remarks, but adopted the first person plural with “we got beat,” and tried to claim it’s because Democrats and his White House hadn’t been — wait for it — political enough. Somehow, this probably won’t qualify Obama for humility points, especially because it’s designed to deny that Obama’s policies had anything to do with his defeat.

That lack of humility, though, extends to the same people who are complaining about it from Obama, or at least the sense of denial. They’re looking for people to double down on confrontation, as though that was in short supply over the last eight years. Other than that, though, expect no change in direction, and expect that to create a lot more intramural fighting:

The decision to stick with the status quo sends a clear message that Democrats believe Tuesday’s disastrous outcome was caused by factors beyond their control, and that they see themselves as best suited to steer a comeback.
But it’s also sparked concern among some party operatives and rank-and-file members that the Democrats’ rebound strategy lacks fresh voices, novel ideas and a new public image.

Most of the grumbling is happening behind closed doors, but some are going public with calls for soul-searching in the party. …

A Democratic strategist said the unrest is not quite boiling over, but predicted it will gain steam throughout the next Congress before erupting after the 2016 elections.

“My sense is that there is a growing appetite within the [House Democratic] Caucus for, basically, generational change,” the strategist said. “At what point do we say, ‘OK, we’ve exhausted this approach to leadership,’ or, ‘This current leadership has taken us about as far as we can go, we need some new ideas and fresh voices?’ ”

“There will be a growing chorus of voices over the next couple of years,” the strategist said.

That’s a recipe for more disaster, especially in the House.