Part-Time, Partisan President to America: 'Buck Up!'
President Obama is quick to tell others how to think. The latest: In the face of polls showing Democrats vulnerable everywhere, the president is telling his liberal base to "buck up," adding that their lack of enthusiasm for him and his record is "inexcusable."
Admonishing his own party, President Barack Obama says it would be "inexcusable" and "irresponsible" for unenthusiastic Democratic voters to sit out the midterm elections, warning that the consequences could be a squandered agenda for years.
"People need to shake off this lethargy. People need to buck up," Obama told Rolling Stone in an interview to be published Friday. The president told Democrats that making change happen is hard and "if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren't serious in the first place."
Heh. I'm sure this will go down well with lefty bloggers who think they're bringing the administration down.
With each passing day, I’m beginning to realize that the crux of the problem for Obama is a handful of prominent progressive bloggers, among them Glenn Greenwald, John Aravosis, Digby, Marcy Wheeler and Jane Hamsher*.
Virtually all the liberal bloggers who have taken a critical stance toward the administration have one thing in common: they place principle above party. Their complaints are exactly the same complaints they lodged against the Bush administration. Contrary to the straw man posed by Obama supporters, they aren’t complaining about pie in the sky wishes but about tangible acts and omissions, from Gitmo to Afghanistan to the environment to gay rights to secrecy and executive power.
The essence of their critique is that the White House lacks a moral compass. The instances where Obama displays a flash of moral authority – the mosque speech comes to mind – these bloggers cheer him with the same fervor as his most ardent fans.
That was written by Peter Daou, one of the "progressive" set's social media and message gurus. Daou correctly recognizes the situation: Obama is losing everyone, left, right, and center. But he incorrectly diagnoses the cause. Obama is losing everyone because he isn't serious himself. Having spent his career as a part-time professor, a community agitator, and a part-time legislator, Obama is now acting as a part-time president.
I'm not just referring to all the golf outings. Or the lavish White House parties with big musical performances. Or the rumored fixation on sports at the expense of policy.
How out of touch is this president? This out of touch.
Obama wants disenchanted supporters to see that Republican wins in November would undermine the ability of Democrats to get the unfinished business done, from climate change legislation to allowing gays to serve openly in the military.
As November nears, with millions out of work, Obama wants wins for Democrats so they can pass controversial cap and trade legislation that will raise everyone's taxes and threaten everyone's jobs, and to pay off a Democratic constituency. That pattern -- pushing policies that hurt the majority, while having his administration and his party work exclusively on behalf of Democratic constituencies -- has repeated itself over the past 20-odd months of Obama's presidency.
Recall the president's handling of the economy. Millions of Americans are out of work and the stagnant economy shows no signs of improvement. Obama's answer: A little talk, no positive action, and no prodding to get the Democrats to even vote on extending the Bush tax cuts, so that employers will know what the tax environment will be over the next year or two and families can anticipate their own outlooks. Obama's Democrats passed a stimulus bill that was laden with pork for Democratic constituencies, then insulted our intelligence bragging about how many jobs the stimulus had "created or saved." But Obama's contribution to that effort was mostly to talk while Pelosi et al wrote the bill. He outsourced the hard work to the Pelosi wing, and got a terrible, unpopular, and ineffective bill as a result. He did this for two reasons: One, he lacks the executive experience necessary to lead, and because he expected his party to take the opportunity to deliver payoffs to their base. They did, at the price of having an effective bill that would actually improve the situation.
Recall the way the ObamaCare bill actually got drafted and passed. Obama outsourced all the work to the Pelosi Democrats in Congress again. Result: A leftist bill that displeased the majority and threatens to wreck health care as we know it. Pelosi and Reid were the faces of the effort; they got to say that they passed a "historic" bill, while their allies smeared ObamaCare's critics as racists. Americans are a people of fair play. Pushing a sweeping and controversial bill through over their objections, and smearing them while you're doing it, violates our sense of fair play and erodes the nation's confidence in its leaders' wisdom.
Recall the way the Obama administration has handled border security. Given the fact that past administrations of both parties have bungled that job, Obama had an unprecedented opportunity to give everyone something that they wanted. He could have acted to secure the border first, pleasing the majority that rightly sees the border as a national security issue, and then pivoted toward some kind of expanded guest worker program, which would have pleased his own base. No one would have gotten everything they wanted, but everyone would have gotten something they wanted. Mumbling and grumbling would have been widespread, but muted and passionless. But what has Obama actually done? He fiddled, the border burned, and then when Arizona acted to protect its citizens, Obama sent out Attorney General Eric Holder to sue them. And again, he has done this in spite of heavy majority support for what Arizona has done. This is an attempt to please the La Razas of the world, at the expense of majority views and common sense.
Recall the way the Democratic controlled Congress handled this year's federal budget. They didn't pass one. They didn't even try to pass one. And Obama said and did nothing to prod, encourage, scold or move them, even though passing a budget is one of Congress' most basic jobs. They had time for Colbert, but not for their responsibilities.
Recall the way Obama has handled the trials of terrorist masterminds. Holder wants to try them in U.S. civilian courts, in the very city they attacked. What has Obama done? Nothing. So the trials are on hold, justice for the 9-11 families is delayed, and the issue festers. This was intended to placate Peter Daou and the lefty blog and ANSWER set, against what the majority wants done with the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
And so we come to the end of the Democrats' four-year reign in Congress, and what's the headline? A comedian testifies -- in character -- before a House committee on the subject of migrant workers. It would be tough to script a more fitting coda to Nancy Pelosi's tenure as speaker. And it would be tough to script a more apt moment for the Obama administration as a whole. Byron York asks, are the Democrats capable of governing? The answer, from Obama on down, is "No."
President Obama's problem is deeper and wider than telling his base to "buck up." Or "stop whining," as VP Biden put it yesterday. With everyone from Bill White in Texas to Russ Feingold in Wisconsin literally running away from him, Obama's problem is staring back from the mirror. He and his party have pushed government into roles the Constitution doesn't give it while abrogating its core duties, and insulted everyone along the way. With the polls crashing down on him, Obama's answer is to cling bitterly to what's left of his partisan presidency and insult the very people who bought into his grandiose promises and his far left ideology.
"Buck up," indeed.
Over the next two years, it will be Americans of all stripes who will have to "buck up" to save our country, with no help, and active opposition, from the part-time, partisan president.