Tensions have come to the surface after meetings over the past few weeks in which Obama senior adviser David Axelrod discussed communications strategy with senior Democratic strategists and party officials. Some Democrats were so unhappy with the White House meetings, they started their own.
The strategy sessions aired a range of disagreements over how to help Democrats forestall an electoral drubbing at the polls—a defeat party strategists believe could have been minimized with a different White House playbook.
They still seem to think that their problem boils down to message. Even Democratic die-hard Kirsten Powers rejected that line a long time ago.
I’ll say this, their problem is in part message, but not in the way that they think. Overall, this administration has delivered a message very loudly. That message is: We will do what we want, and we will smear you and lie to you if you stand up to oppose us. That’s their message.
Oppose them on amnesty for illegal aliens — you’re their “enemy.” Or if you’re in Arizona, you’re getting sued.
Oppose them on ObamaCare — you’re a racist teabagger. Or you’re Astroturf beholden to some shadowy foreign interest.
Want to know what the tax environment will be on January 1, 2011? You’re out of luck, because the Democrats had no time to deal with that.
So yes, on message the Obamacrats have been awful.
But they’ve been awful on message not just because Robert Gibbs is an awful spokesman (though he is awful), but because they’ve been awful on policy, and they’re awful on policy because they’re hard core leftists who either don’t understand the country, or they do understand it but only insofar as they want to “fundamentally transform” it into an entirely different country.
So the problem isn’t message. And it’s not personnel.
It was Obama who used his first meeting with Republicans to sound a bipartisan note: “I won.”
It was Obama who said of the difference between now and previous attempts to pass major Democratic-backed legislation: “You have me.”
It was Obama who said of the beer summit police officer that he “acted stupidly.”
It was Obama who called on Hispanics to “punish their enemies.”
It was Obama who appointed a Truther and Communist, Van Jones, to be “green czar.” And Mao-loving Anita Dunn to his Comms shop. And took the advice of socialists like Peter Dreier, Jeremiah Wright, and yes, Bill Ayers.
It was Obama who put a tax cheat atop Treasury, and it was Obama who outsourced his largest policy initiatives to the strident Reid and and the shrill Pelosi. And it was Obama who broke his own promise to post legislation days before votes, so the public could read them first.
It was Obama who said Republicans may get more votes but will still have to “sit in the back.” Presumably with the voters who empowered them. Who are his “enemies” (see above).
It was Obama who created the “bitter clingers” as a voting bloc.
I do expect that come Wednesday, during his 1 pm press conference, President Obama will announce some personnel shifts. He’ll announce his offer to work with the Republicans, by which he’ll actually mean that they will have to come his way or he will continue to dishonestly denounce them. He may publicly fire someone. Maybe Gibbs gets to spend some more time with his family.
Obama’s greatest problem, though, is that no matter who else he fires, he still has himself.
The Obama administration’s greatest and most intractable problem is Obama. No Beltway shake-up will fix that.
More: Mickey Kaus says we should cut Obama some slack over the “enemies” line, because:
Isn’t it clear that Obama’s now-controversial “enemies” remark was simply a rephrasing of union leader Samuel Gompers famous dictum that labor should “reward its friends and punish its enemies”? Standard union (and political scientist) talk.
That’s actually a confirmation of the problem with how Obama thinks and how that translates into how he governs. He’s a creature of, by and for the unions — they’re in his head in the worst way. The unions outlived their utility probably 40 years ago, and are now largely just corrupt pools of retrograde socialism and outright thuggery. That their thinking is in Obama’s DNA to the level that he reflexively uses their terminology tells us that, first, “hope and change” really was a conscious fraud on his part and that, second, he only recognizes how problematic his union-think is when it blows up in his face. And then, he only sees it as a communications problem, not a worldview problem. Neither recommends him as unifier, or even as someone who grasps the modern economy at all.