Core Chicago Team Sinking Obama Presidency

-

emanuel jarrett axelrod gibbs 100th day.jpg
(Obama’s Core Team at press conference on Obama administration’s 100th day; photo credit: Bill O’leary, Washington Post)
Financial Times Washington Bureau Chief Edward Luce has written a granularly informed insider account about those who hold the keys to the inner most sanctum of Obama Land — Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod.
rahm-emanuel-mtp.jpgIt’s a vital article — a brave one — that interviews “dozens of interviews with his closest allies and friends in Washington”.
Most are unnamed because the consequences of retribution from this powerful foursome can be severe in an access-dependent town. John Podesta, President of the powerful, adminstration-tilting Center for American Progress, had the temerity and self-confidence to put his thoughts publicly on the record. But most others could not.
Mark Schmitt, executive editor of the liberal magazine American Prospect, wrote that “Luce has written what seems to me the best and most succinct rundown of what’s gone wrong in the White House, with particular attention to the role of Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.” But some of the big aggregators out there — Mike Allen at Politico and ABC’s The Note among others — didn’t give Luce’s juicy and lengthy essay any love.
David Axelrod-thumb.jpgWhy not? Allen is a good friend of mine and tries to keep a good balance between tough-hitting political stuff but also goes out of his way to give strokes to those in the White House he can — particularly “Axe” — who is a regular in Mike’s daily Playbook. I try to do the same to be honest and have a particular thing for Bill Burton’s wit and was pleased to see Rahm Emanuel giving David Geffen rather than Rick Warren lots of hugs during the Inauguration eve fests.
But this Luce piece is unavoidably, accurately hard-hitting, and while many of the nation’s top news anchors and editors are sending emails back and forth (I have been sent three such emails in confidence) on what a spot-on piece Luce wrought on the administration, they fear that the “four horsepersons of the Obama White House” will shut down and cut off access to those who give the essay ‘legs.’
But in the too regularly vapid chatter about DC’s political scene, serious critiques of the internal game around Obama not only deserve review on their own merits but have to be read — because Obama is not winning. He is failing and people need to consider “why”.
Any serious survey of the Obama administration’s accomplishments and setbacks over the last year has to conclude that the administration is deeply in the red.
If current trends continue, this once mesmerizing Camelot-ish operation will be be seen in the history books as the presidential administration that — to distort slightly and inversely paraphrase Churchill — never have so many talented people managed to achieve so little with so much.
The entire article needs to be read, but to set the stage here is the beginning of Ed Luce’s portal into the heart of today’s Obama machine:

At a crucial stage in the Democratic primaries in late 2007, Barack Obama rejuvenated his campaign with a barnstorming speech, in which he ended on a promise of what his victory would produce: “A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.”
Just over a year into his tenure, America’s 44th president governs a bitterly divided nation, a world increasingly hard to manage and an America that seems more disillusioned than ever with Washington’s ways. What went wrong?
Pundits, Democratic lawmakers and opinion pollsters offer a smorgasbord of reasons – from Mr Obama’s decision to devote his first year in office to healthcare reform, to the president’s inability to convince voters he can “feel their [economic] pain”, to the apparent ungovernability of today’s Washington. All may indeed have contributed to the quandary in which Mr Obama finds himself. But those around him have a more specific diagnosis – and one that is striking in its uniformity. The Obama White House is geared for campaigning rather than governing, they say.
In dozens of interviews with his closest allies and friends in Washington – most of them given unattributably in order to protect their access to the Oval Office – each observes that the president draws on the advice of a very tight circle. The inner core consists of just four people – Rahm Emanuel, the pugnacious chief of staff; David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, his senior advisers; and Robert Gibbs, his communications chief.
Two, Mr Emanuel and Mr Axelrod, have box-like offices within spitting distance of the Oval Office. The president, who is the first to keep a BlackBerry, rarely holds a meeting, including on national security, without some or all of them present.
With the exception of Mr Emanuel, who was a senior Democrat in the House of Representatives, all were an integral part of Mr Obama’s brilliantly managed campaign. Apart from Mr Gibbs, who is from Alabama, all are Chicagoans – like the president. And barring Richard Nixon’s White House, few can think of an administration that has been so dominated by such a small inner circle.
“It is a very tightly knit group,” says a prominent Obama backer who has visited the White House more than 40 times in the past year. “This is a kind of ‘we few’ group … that achieved the improbable in the most unlikely election victory anyone can remember and, unsurprisingly, their bond is very deep.”
John Podesta, a former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and founder of the Center for American Progress, the most influential think-tank in Mr Obama’s Washington, says that while he believes Mr Obama does hear a range of views, including dissenting advice, problems can arise from the narrow composition of the group itself.

spokesman-robert-gibbs.jpgTo hit some of the later highlights, Luce speaks with political giants ‘inside’ the Obama tent who suggest that Rahm Emanuel lost track of the importance of communicating to the public about health care, despite some success in legislative deal-making. While Luce doesn’t explicate this topic, I would also suggest that Rahm pulled the plug on shuttering GITMO, which had a good plan on paper, but was unwilling to move the political wheels to get that done — not understanding that this was a key pillar of progressive political support for Obama.
The article goes on to document how people like Health Secretary and former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius were kept off television — along with others like Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. Add to this others that Luce does not name — including important voices like Paul Volcker and Austan Goolsbee on Obama’s economic team, who saw their public voices choked off by a media-dominating Lawrence Summers with support from Robert Gibbs and Rahm Emanuel.
In a particularly cutting depiction of Emanuel, Luce writes:

Administration insiders say the famously irascible Mr Emanuel treats cabinet principals like minions. “I am not sure the president realises how much he is humiliating some of the big figures he spent so much trouble recruiting into his cabinet,” says the head of a presidential advisory board who visits the Oval Office frequently. “If you want people to trust you, you must first place trust in them.”

I will never forget when Rahm Emanuel laughingly responded well within earshot of several national media (and this blogger/writer) at an Inaugural bash to an inquiry if Emanuel was enjoying putting Tom Daschle on the basement floor of the White House in a non-descript office pretty far from the President. Emanuel joked back glibly that Daschle had to be happy with any office in the White House because “any square inch of real estate inside the White House — no matter where it is — is more valuable than anything outside it.”
Compare this flippant meanness and hubris to the tone of Obama campaign manager David Plouffe’s depiction of the campaign in Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama’s Historic Victory and one couldn’t imagine more different worlds. Plouffe describes a campaign with a “no assholes” rule — one where good policy would be pursued — not just what was a winning political hand.
Luce’s brief paints a picture of even a well-meaning, policy-focused “Obama the man” being warped out of shape by “Obama the team.” Recounting some of the antics during Obama’s November China trip, Luce recounts:

The same [dismissal of his key policy advisers in lieu of his political entourage] can be observed in foreign policy. On Mr Obama’s November trip to China, members of the cabinet such as the Nobel prizewinning Stephen Chu, energy secretary, were left cooling their heels while Mr Gibbs, Mr Axelrod and Ms Jarrett were constantly at the president’s side.
The White House complained bitterly about what it saw as unfairly negative media coverage of a trip dubbed Mr Obama’s “G2” visit to China. But, as journalists were keenly aware, none of Mr Obama’s inner circle had any background in China. “We were about 40 vans down in the motorcade and got barely any time with the president,” says a senior official with extensive knowledge of the region. “It was like the Obama campaign was visiting China.”

valerie-jarrett-thumb.jpgOne wonders why Valerie Jarrett was on the trip in any case. As head of public engagement for the White House, it would seem she should have a rather full plate meeting the demand of the many groups around the United States that want to feel like they are connecting with and being heard by the Obama White House.
I see Valerie Jarrett a lot — often at Georgetown’s power crowd restaurant, Cafe Milano.
In fact, one night when I was at the annual gala dinner of Jim Zogby’s Arab American Institute — an important evening for leading figures from the Arab-American community to connect with the Washington political establishment — Jarrett was on the docket to be the major keynote speaker of the entire night.
Jarrett, however, had to modify her schedule because of what she said were “urgent duties that were calling her back to the White House right away” and so she gave a few minutes of laudatory comments toward the Arab American community before most people were in their seats between reception and sitting down for dinner. My hosts that evening said that they were mainly interested in hearing her and asked me if I wanted to depart with them for Cafe Milano. I said sure — and wow — there Ms. Jarrett was.
Maybe she did stop at the White House between the JW Marriott and the Georgetown hot spot. That was possible — but it would have had to be a nano-second drop by.
Compare this to President Bill Clinton giving the major keynote remarks in March 1995 at the Nixon Center‘s opening conference in Washington at the Mayflower Hotel when Clinton came early for a VIP reception, stayed for the entire sit down dinner, gave a 90 minute long speech, and mingled with folks after.
People can tell when you are focused on them in a serious way — and when you are giving them a cursory glance.
There are things that happen in politics — and Valerie Jarrett does have important duties and a schedule that is probably always in constant flux — so I don’t want to take my critique too far.
But one thing essential to understand is that the kind of policy that smart strategists — including by people like National Security Adviser Jim Jones, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other advisers like Denis McDonough, Tom Donilon, James Steinberg, William Burns, (previously Gregory Craig) — would be putting forward is getting twisted either in the rough-and-tumble of a a team of rivals operation that is not working, or is being distorted by the Chicago political gang’s tactical advice that is seducing Obama towards a course that has not only violated deals he made with those who voted him into office but which is failing to hit any of the major strategic targets by which the administration will be historically measured.
President Obama needs to take stock quickly. Read the Luce piece. Be honest about what is happening. Read Plouffe’s smart book again. Send Rahm Emanuel back to the House in a senior role. Make Valerie Jarrett an important Ambassador. Keep Axelrod — but balance him with someone like Plouffe, and get back to putting good policy before short term politics.
Set up a Team B with diverse political and national security observers like Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, G. John Ikenberry, Brent Scowcroft, Joseph Nye, Rita Hauser, Susan Eisenhower, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and others to give you a no-nonsense picture of what is going on.
And take action to fix the dysfunction of your office.
Otherwise, the Obama brand will be totally bust in the very near term.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

263 comments on “Core Chicago Team Sinking Obama Presidency

  1. Professional Essay Writing says:

    Hello !!!
    I agree with you in a qualified sense that Obama’s
    economic policy is a weakness — it’s an open
    question whether this is a problem of analysis; a
    problem of politics; or something else. The main
    criticism that I’d have with him is probably more in
    terms of emphasis and scale — not fundamental
    differences.

    Reply

  2. Gear Box says:

    Your post have good information photo are also inspire to me on this website…….
    thanks for sharing great information…

    Reply

  3. Term Paper Writing says:

    I’m no Washington insider but I am a communications
    pro, and it’s disturbingly obvious that the Obama
    administration has failed on the very basic front of
    messaging. They had SO much support going in, only
    to watch it all slip away because they’ve allowed
    IDIOTS to control the national conversation. How
    sad.

    Reply

  4. autobus says:

    The industry purchased Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 is something that also needs to be desperately fixed. The creation of a Consumer Financial Products Agency along the lines that Elizabeth Warren has suggested makes sense.
    I agree with you in a qualified sense that Obama’s economic policy is a weakness — it’s an open question whether this is a problem of analysis; a problem of politics; or something else. The main criticism that I’d have with him is probably more in terms of emphasis and scale — not fundamental differences. The leadership in the Senate has been AWOL; the political opposition has been anything but loyal, and much of the population has been indoctrinated over the past two decades into believing that tax cuts and de-regulation produce uniformly positive benefits, and that all economic activity and job creation comes from the super-wealthy.
    ?????

    Reply

  5. Replica Louis Vuitton Handbags says:

    Your advice is very useful. Thank you
    Your article is very informative and the use of
    graphics adds to understanding the process. I think
    some of your sentences are too long, and a few minor
    commas are missing. You did very well for your first
    blog. When I write my first blog, I hope it is as
    readable as yours.
    Fantastic post and wonderful blog, I really like
    this type of interesting articles keep it up.
    Nice work!!

    Reply

  6. Karachi stock exchange says:

    Thanks for the sharing of such information we will pass it on to our readers.
    This is a great reading.

    Reply

  7. ksestocks says:

    Nice information provided here which is very useful
    to everyone…I am not a huge fan of this side,
    there do seem to be a lot these days…
    thanks for posting…

    Reply

  8. ksestocks says:

    Thanks for sharing the ways on how to do it. I have a small business and I use social media. I’m the only one who maintains it, I do the blogging, the articles, etc. And I always seek for an online advise and tips. And I find your blog so useful and helpful.

    Reply

  9. Tony Kellerman says:

    as an ordinary american, here’s what i think. the president’s team has its own shining moments and misses. in this age, i think it is just fair to say that obama’s core chicago team is adjusting to what it feels like to be under the scrutiny of the global media where your every mood is not only reported in just any american household, but also other countries as well. yes, there are few moments that the core team fell flat on several issues. overall, i believe they are doing their best to promote the interests of their main guy – the president.

    Reply

  10. Miss Britches says:

    I’m one of the countless Americans who volunteered MANY hours to help get President Obama elected, and I couldn’t be more disappointed with him now. Never mind all the policy failures. What disgusts me the most is that Obama has allowed Republicans and their mass of angry dolts to shape the conversation in Washington.
    An earlier commenter repeated the classic tea party meme – that most Americans don’t want Obama’s policies. Really?! Democrats won by huge margins and yet the majority of Americans don’t want Democratic policies?! How does this insanity even gain traction?
    I’m no Washington insider but I am a communications pro, and it’s disturbingly obvious that the Obama administration has failed on the very basic front of messaging. They had SO much support going in, only to watch it all slip away because they’ve allowed IDIOTS to control the national conversation. How sad.

    Reply

  11. Mr Kowalski says:

    Instead of healthcare and cap/trade, perhaps Obama should concern himself with this:
    “The notional value of derivatives held by U.S. commercial banks increased $804 billion in the third
    quarter of 2009, or 0.4%, to $204.3 trillion”

    Reply

  12. fifthbeatle says:

    My treatise on Obama would contain 4 main tracts:
    1.Obama is what I term a “Charlie Brown socialist” — a far left-leaning socialist, certainly, but seemingly lacking in
    rock-solid commitment. Thus, he strives toward the goal of government control of the economy, society,etc., but sometimes wavers, for whatever reason, in his total commitment to the cause, or, at the very least, dithers with the minutiae of plan implementation. Thus, he has core, leftist values and ideas, but sometimes vacillates
    between this option and that option. His vision for the country is totally out of phase with a populace which polls show is center-right. This incongruence is bound to cause problems and friction, and, inevitably leads to failure.
    2. Obama found himself at precisely the right place, at the right time, to mount a campaign for the highest office of the land. The country was perhaps at a crossroads: Discontent, angry, hurting economically; feelings underlying a general unease. (Hope) and Change, for Change’s sake, seemed a better alternative, than status quo. Thus, millions of what I term “ABCs” (“Anything/Anyone but Bush-Cheney”) voters clamored for a charismatic figure who professed to be different, who promised Change. Never mind that no one really knew what that Change was, exactly, and ignoring the fact their new-found leader never really elaborated on his true meaning of Change. Thus, this leader became all things to all people; the populace deluded itself into believing their idea of Change, was also their eminence’s idea of Change, as well. When the fog of Hope and Change and optimism dissipated, to reveal two divergent ideas of Change, again, discourse arises, and gives birth to failure.
    3.Obama’s core group of 4 is Chicago politics. Yet, everyone seems to forget, Obama is Chicago politics, TOO! Obama cannot change the
    influence of Chicago politics in his administration, because Obama, himself, IS Chicago politics! Thus, just switching one
    player, for another, does not change who Obama is, or what he believes.
    4.Obama, at some point, whether in office, still, or not, will have his own “Dick Morris” moment. At that shocking juncture, we all learn Obama
    never was able change any of the “Big 4” of his Presidency, because those 4, in fact, WERE President! It was those 4, perhaps a select few others,who really called the shots, who really made decisions, who really executed the duties of President! It will be revealed Obama was merely a figurehead. Perhaps, ultimately, this explains his “wishy-washy-ness,” and reliance upon his teleprompter, his seeming oscillation from policy to policy, his swaying from means to means for his end, his sometimes seeming inability to show true leadership….

    Reply

  13. Shaman Bob says:

    Nice job on the article, Steve. I linked to it and the original Luce
    article from today’s Daily Beast so clearly the two columns have
    legs.
    I’ve also enjoyed reading the comments. And…the Beltway
    navel-gazing aside…I agree most with PissedOff American.
    Sounds like Matt Taibbi has some potential competition.
    As a lifelong independent who worked on and contributed to the
    Obama campaign in New York, Ohio and PA, my relief and hopes
    after eight years of not-so-crypto fascist BushCo, aided and
    abetted by the infotainers in the corporate media, I was among
    the millions hoping meaningful change would begin. When
    Emanuel was named COS, a yellow flag went up. Shades of the
    DLC and Clinton’s Republican-lite compromising to get Wall
    Street dollars.
    Then Summers and Geithner. Flags turned red. Since then, all
    the signs of a failing Administration recounted by Steve are
    coming to fruition. Personally…living far outside the Beltway
    Bubble…I don’ see Obama making it past one term, unless the
    Ice Princess scams the nomination. The Dems in Congress lack
    leadership and principles. They’ve been bought and owned by
    the same folks who own the Repubs.
    Oh, well, there’s always The Netherlands.

    Reply

  14. Bobby says:

    Like anyone else who is insane or evil, (Barak Obama is a bit of both) to ever admit he is wrong would appear to invite his demise. Liberals can never admit anything wrong, ever. Ever. The closest one has ever come was with Clinton’s, “I didn’t do it and it wasn’t wrong anyway because others have done it too and I promise to never do it again”, defense.

    Reply

  15. Drew says:

    New Orleans just elected its first white mayor in forty years. He
    carried 63% (I think) of the black vote. One wonders if post-racial
    decisions and voting will cross to both sides of the street. I would
    certainly hope so. Obviously any caucasian that said “I just vote for
    the white guy, always will” would be accused of expressing a
    hardened racism.

    Reply

  16. nadine says:

    “To me and many other blacks that I know, Democratic politicians seem to have the same attitude about black voters as Republicans: we voted for Obama & will continue to,because he’s black and has a (D) behind his name”
    Absolutely. Seriously, DBW, just as a matter of political strategy, if blacks could ever bring themselves to vote for a Republican in large numbers, they would improve their political clout immensely. The Democrats think, no, make that, they KNOW, they own the black vote lock, stock & barrel.
    Every vote that crosses over to vote Republican is twice as scary as a vote that just sits home or votes for a third party candidate. Something to remember.

    Reply

  17. nadine says:

    “The first thing Obama and the IL clique should have done last year is one of his main campaign promises: Campaign Finance Reform and increased regulations on lobbying.”
    DBW, this is rather ironic, considering that Obama personally destroyed Campaign Finance Reform in 2008. He first promised to abide by its limits, then reneged when it became clear he could raise far more money.
    Obama raised more money in 2008 than Bush and Kerry did combined in 2004. He raised something like 200 million on his website in the last two months of the campaign, which is important to note because nobody knows where the money came from – literally. Obama took the AVS checks off his website so you could sign in as Mickey Mouse and use a prepaid credit card to give $2300.
    Literally, that money could have come from anywhere. The Democrats in Congress conveniently made sure the FEC didn’t have a quorum, and of course the media was too deep in the tank for Obama to raise any questions.
    Campaign Finance Reform is quite dead, and Obama killed it. And you seriously expected him to keep his promises on campaign finance, on lobbyists, on transparency? When has he ever? Can’t you tell by now that Obama’s promises mean absolutely nothing?

    Reply

  18. nadine says:

    Brooks and Noonan let their distaste for populism & working class manners overcome their usually decent political judgment. Camille Paglia, who comes from a working class background herself, was able to notice the obvious: Palin is smart and charismatic – without crinkling her nose at the “you betchas” and folksy sayings.
    But please keep thinking that Palin is a bimbo and no possible threat. Please do.
    David Broder has noticed what a good politician she is, if you’re interested: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/10/AR2010021002451.html

    Reply

  19. Dissappointed Black Woman says:

    Please excuse my typos.

    Reply

  20. Dissappointed Black Woman says:

    Great article Steve!
    I grew up in the Midwest, not far from Chi-Town and this particular clique of 4 that Obama has surrounded himself with aren’t performing up to Chicago standards.
    I’ll be very honest, I expected this group and Obama to be fierce and clean house with no BS tolerated. Instead their acting like a bunch of weak pansies. Very un-Chicago-like (if you’ve ever been to the Southside, then you’ll understand what I’m saying).
    When Obama kept Robert Gates, a handful of other Bush insiders and the Clinton alumni on his team, I knew we were in for a cluster-f*ck. His fetish with bipartisanship is ridiculous. Obama should re-read the Art of War, I think he misunderstood a couple of points.
    The first thing Obama and the IL clique should have done last year is one of his main campaign promises: Campaign Finance Reform and increased regulations on lobbying. Lobbyist have been Obama’s and American voters biggest enemy since he took office. If he would have nipped this problem in the bud, HCR and WallStreet Reform would have been accomplished.
    I also noticed that as clearly and eloquently as Obama articulates, when it came down to his views on Health Care Reform (single-payer, public option)he gave aloof mixed-messages (non-answers), which is unlike him. My European husband and his family are absolutely baffled with the HCR debacle and question the civility of our American politicians.
    IMHO, this Illinois clique that’s around him is grossly underestimating and take for granted the liberal base, especially the black voters. His clique made it to the big-time and now they want act “brand-new” and tone-deaf.
    To me and many other blacks that I know, Democratic politicians seem to have the same attitude about black voters as Republicans: we voted for Obama & will continue to,because he’s black and has a (D) behind his name. This is untrue; we are very patient, but if Obama doesn’t “man-up” and keep his word, the constituency that he thinks is in his back-pocket is going to give him an ugly reality check in 2012 and vote for a 3rd party candidate more aligned with populace needs and liberal values. The f*ck ups that Obama and his clique are making, are effecting the black community the worst. It has not gone unnoticed.

    Reply

  21. Outraged American says:

    Angry Woman: Palin dissed all the minority groups in Alaska
    when she was governor. I covered it as an indie news producer
    and spoke with minority groups who told me about Palin’s VAPID
    but deliberate indifference to them.
    Todd Palin has some Native blood, but so what? Are you using
    the infamous 1/32 law prevalent in the US south to define Todd
    Palin? And Eskimos aren’t “Darkies” — they have as much in
    common with Africans as Palin does.
    And I was using the term “darkie” sarcastically because Palin’s
    appeal is mostly to people who think that Africans are one tiny
    genetic step away from apes. That’s the way Palin treated
    African Americans in Alaska. Look it up, but if you can’t handle
    that I can get you some of the leaders of the African American
    community in Alaska’s contact info and you can ask them
    yourself.
    Palin does not have an excellent public track record.
    Troopergate was the least of the blips in her track record.
    Your lesbian friends who you claim support Palin, what do they
    think about her making rape victiims in Wasilla pay for their own
    rape kits? Lesbians do fantasize about being raped by men
    because that’s the only way they’re going to get some, right,
    Angry Woman?
    I don’t know where you came from, but your pseudo-feminism
    is like Nadine’s Zionism — you both make the case for the
    opposing view very well. With your ludicrous and completely
    incoherent arguments, you’re making a good case for Obama to
    be Dictator for Life and for suffrage to be abandoned.
    You — may I call you Sarah? — are really embarrassing women.
    Palin was a very dangerous joke, and she set back real feminism
    to where it was almost 100 years ago. And, to be honest, I don’t
    believe one word you type about your background, and I really
    don’t mean to be rude, just straight forward, which Palin and
    McCain aren’t.
    I worked hard to push through the ERA (Equal Rights
    Amendment) before I could even vote. What were you doing
    back in the early 80’s to make equality between the sexes legal?
    Playing with your Barbie?
    And it appears that you’re still playing with a Barbie now,
    because that’s what Palin is. If she weighed 300 pounds and had
    zits, well, that woman would be a cashier at 7/11 and still they’d
    fire her.
    And no, I did not vote for Obama.

    Reply

  22. snowman says:

    “Respect”? How much respect has Palin shown for the people of Alaska who elected her governor, and then she walked away? You folks are taking her all too personally in part because she is disrespectful in her cutesy, sexual/sexist way.

    Reply

  23. drew says:

    Nadine, that’s an interesting comment on Palin’s facebook
    postings on the health care effort. Perhaps they were more
    influential than 29 speeches by the president. If so, that’s rather
    an astonishing fact. Even the people who are supposed to listen
    to the president professionally — Congress — didn’t seem to be
    able to organize themselves around his agenda.
    I prefer my politicians to have experienced failure a time or two,
    unlike Palin, but I do find it astonishing that Palin’s detractors do
    not realize how well they serve her, in their vitriolic contempt.
    The lightweight they describe would have disappeared in the
    manner of most VP candidates. But she just keeps getting
    bigger.
    Camille Paglia, I think, has a far superior analysis and critique of
    Palin (in the service of at least the libertarian left, admittedly a
    small cohort, because there are so few “leave us alone
    Democrats”). It starts by respecting her. If the ambition is to
    diminish an opponent, an opponent with muscle (10s of millions
    of supporters), one would think that the left would be able
    (they’re smarter, after all, than the right — just ask them?)
    understand that in expressing contempt for a standard-bearer,
    they’re mobilizing the rifle-bearers.

    Reply

  24. Drew says:

    Nadine, that’s an interesting comment on Palin’s facebook
    postings on the health care effort. Perhaps they were more
    influential than 29 speeches by the president. If so, that’s rather
    an astonishing fact. Even the people who are supposed to listen
    to the president professionally — Congress — didn’t seem to be
    able to organize themselves around his agenda.
    I prefer my politicians to have experienced failure a time or two,
    unlike Palin, but I do find it astonishing that Palin’s detractors do
    not realize how well they serve her, in their vitriolic contempt.
    The lightweight they describe would have disappeared in the
    manner of most VP candidates. But she just keeps getting
    bigger.
    Camille Paglia, I think, has a far superior analysis and critique of
    Palin (in the service of at least the libertarian left, admittedly a
    small cohort, because there are so few “leave us alone
    Democrats”). It starts by respecting her. If the ambition is to
    diminish an opponent, an opponent with muscle (10s of millions
    of supporters), one would think that the left would be able
    (they’re smarter, after all, than the right — just ask them?)
    understand that in expressing contempt for a standard-bearer,
    they’re mobilizing the rifle-bearers.

    Reply

  25. DonS says:

    Nadine, are you so desperate for friends that you endorse Palin? She’s a bimbo; just ask Kathleen Parker, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks.
    http://www.americablog.com/2010/02/over-70-think-sarah-palin-is-not.html
    The best I can say is that Palin took her 15 minutes of McCain-bestowed fame and turned it into a retirement plan.I’m a bit ashamed at myself for even commenting, but it’s such a target rich environment. She requires colorful language.

    Reply

  26. nadine says:

    Hi angrywoman, Yup, Sarah Palin is charismatic, good looking, married to an Inuit, and has her finger on the pulse of a large segment of the American public. As I’ve said before, she would be the perfect candidate for the left if she were a liberal Democrat.
    But since she’s not, she’s a traitor who must be destroyed. So all the usual attacks come out. First, she’s dunce. Hey, just like Reagan! They use that on any conservative. Second, she’s flaunting her “great ass” to use POA’s charming phrase. Any prohibition on sexist smearing goes out the window when the target is a conservative (ditto for race), so obviously she’s some oversexed chilbilly with a Tobacco Road family who are all fair game. Third, all the cultural sneering comes out: Look! she says “You betcha!” Well, obviously she doesn’t know that Africa is a continent. Tell everybody! She said “I can see Russia from my house”, did you know that? None of it is true, but they don’t care.
    Worst of all, the more they sneer at her, the stronger she grows. Her fans know the people sneering at Sarah Palin are sneering at them too. They know Sarah Palin is bright, accomplished, knowledgeable and has good instincts, which is why she has moved the health care debate more by putting a post on Facebook than Obama ever has by making a Presidential speech.
    What Obama and Gibbs really showed this week is that Sarah Palin is far inside their heads that they cannot gather their thoughts together without seeing her smiling face. They cannot touch her. They only make themselves smaller by mocking her, but they can’t help themselves.

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “You, sir, are a woman hater. A sexist”
    You didn’t REALLY squander your money on a college education, did you? You don’t seem to have purchased much.

    Reply

  28. angrywoman says:

    Outraged American wrote: “Angry Woman, girlfriend.
    I’m the founder of FemiNazia, please read
    my post above. And get a refund on that degree.”
    Never heard of “FemiNazia” and I’ve founded plenty
    of things myself, so BFD. Your post made little
    sense, and tried to call Palin some sort of anti-
    Eskimo racist when in fact she is married to one.
    Faced with that absolute fact, you ignore the
    obvious and then try to slam my degree by claiming
    you are some sort of expert on feminism.
    OK, I’ll give one little inch…Todd Palin is only
    PART Eskimo, but still, a real racist wouldn’t
    touch someone who was mixed race like he is.
    BTW, it became clear during the election that a
    lot of so-called feminists had lost their way,
    supporting Obama over Hillary (NARAL being the
    biggest offender) despite Obama’s thin record on
    women’s issues. Never mind that we have a gender
    parity problem in government, which is exacerbated
    by the complete and total double standard women
    have to face. Palin uses crib notes, she’s
    vilified by the left, but Obama can’t speak
    without a teleprompter, and he’s painted as a
    genius. This is just one example.
    Telling me you are part of the post-feminist cabal
    of self-hating women who see no feminist hypocrisy
    in tearing Palin down doesn’t really give you much
    credibility in my book. So maybe you need to get a
    refund on YOUR degree, if indeed you even have
    one.

    Reply

  29. Outraged American says:

    Angry Woman, girlfriend. I’m the founder of FemiNazia, please read
    my post above. And get a refund on that degree.

    Reply

  30. MarkL says:

    Franklin,
    I’m fairly certain that Obama said 30% was too HIGH a cap, which was why he opposed it.
    That’s a Marie Antoinette level of condescension.
    Anyway, you name the debate, and I’ll guarantee that Obama’s answers on any economic or tax issues were the weakest of the major candidates.
    I’m moving to another thread now.. this one seems petered out. Thanks for the conversation.

    Reply

  31. Franklin says:

    MarkL,
    Based on a quick Google search, Obama’s explanation at the time of the vote was that a 30 percent cap was arbitrary.
    I don’t remember his justification during the presidential debates.
    My personal view is that a rate cap is a blunt instrument like price and rent controls (at best a very short-term expedient to prevent price gouging, but one that can be very disruptive long-term).
    Is a 30 percent cap really that outrageous for a $10-$40 loan over a one week period?
    Personally, I wouldn’t even mind a 50 percent charge over the $35 flat “fee” that banks charge these days for something like a $10 overdraft over a 5 period.
    There may be some circumstances where a cap would be appropriate — the big thing though from my view is that terms of credit need to be simplified, stated up-front, and clear to consumers.

    Reply

  32. angrywoman says:

    PissedOffAmerican wrote: “I have no doubt Palin’s
    cutesy folksy “I’ve got a great ass, and I can
    think too” act resonates soundly with a good
    portion of the right. But I am always amazed when
    one of them crawls out of their coma and actually
    admits it.”
    You, sir, are a woman hater. A sexist. Every
    single time you bring up Palin you need to bring
    up her appearance or use other sexist language
    such as “twit” or “bimbo” which are generally
    words used to describe WOMEN in derogatory terms.
    And you can’t see your own frothing woman-hatred
    even when pointed out to you. Your comment about
    Palin’s “great ass” is revolting. Palin doesn’t
    try to flaunt her looks. The woman wears GLASSES,
    for pete’s sake, and I suspect she does so on
    purpose just so people will take her more
    seriously, to deflect attention away from her
    looks. (I’ve done this myself, purposefully put on
    glasses instead of contacts when going to
    meetings, because men like YOU are sexist and
    don’t take attractive women seriously.) So any
    commentary on her “ass” is YOUR projection, and
    says a heck of a lot more about you and your
    attitude towards women than it says about Palin.
    And I’m not a right-winger. In fact, the only
    march I’ve done on Washington was for a woman’s
    right to choose. I volunteer for environmental
    organizations. I know lesbian women who are Palin
    fans, I know minorities who are Palin fans. (I am
    white and straight.) I live in Los Angeles, and
    none of the Palin fans I know fit the
    stereotypical description of a redneck. So that
    probably just blows your worldview, and should
    scare you to death because if I know Palin fans in
    LA who are non-white and non-straight, then I’ll
    bet there’s a lot more where that came from. Most
    of us are quiet about it, because we don’t want to
    get into constant arguments with some of the
    mindless rabid radicals who are the vocal ones in
    California. But there are lots of us moderates who
    don’t just vote mindlessly by party.
    Outraged American then writes: “Angry Woman, have
    you ever heard Palin speak? Africa is a
    country? So what are Kenya & Sudan — states? And
    you would have this nitwit in charge of Africom?”
    Yes, I’ve heard Palin speak. In person. And that
    Africa thing was a lie…just more propaganda
    people like you put out to try to destroy her.
    Outraged American continues: “Although, on the
    bright side, Palin, given her track record dealing
    with minorities (like Native Alaskans — she ain’t
    got no time for them) in her home state, would
    probably just ignore our latest US Foreign Legion
    outpost because too many darkies live there.”
    Who’s the racist here? YOU are the one using the
    extremely offensive term “darkie,” not Palin. And
    BTW, in case you didn’t know, Palin is MARRIED to
    an Eskimo. She’s married to one of those
    “darkies.” So you are full of it, and once again,
    proving the point that most of the anti-Palin hype
    is a load of BS, done solely to try to
    sensationalize someone who actually has an
    excellent public track record, as much as the
    rabid far left tries to distort it.
    Let me touch for a moment on this ridiculous
    hoopla over Palin’s crib notes on her hand. The
    woman does an extemporaneous speech using notes,
    and the left jumps all over it, but that same
    hypercritical left ignores Obama’s constant use of
    the teleprompter, even in unlikely places like 6th
    grade classrooms or rodeos.
    Obama is a puppet…he’s spoonfed by his corporate
    masters, and you mindless Democrats can’t see the
    forest for the trees. Obama was propped up by Wall
    Street – he in fact had more Wall Street donations
    than any presidential candidate EVER. And yet you
    think the Democrats are the party of the people?
    Wake up! Palin is the REAL outsider, she is not
    part of the elite, she’s a real human being and
    worked her way up without Wall Street helping
    her…and you bash her to pieces. What mindless
    partisan idiots you can be.
    BTW, I am in no way supporting the Republican
    party. They suck too. But if you buy into the
    Palin bashing you are just buying into the elite
    trying desperately to maintain their control and
    not lose it to a true populist candidate who is
    NOT a part of their Ivy League world.
    Go Palin!

    Reply

  33. robert says:

    I do take issue with Obama’s so called “brillant” campaign.
    How much brilliance does it take to let Wall St. pay your way and smearing the Clintons as racists?

    Reply

  34. nadine says:

    “They do not develop opinions based
    on the maneuverings of this or that oh-so-breathless adviser.
    They are not ignorant proles. They may be slow to make up
    their minds, but they have minds, and it is the content, not the
    style or machinery, of this administration that is stopping it in
    its tracks. ” (Drew)
    Damn straight, Drew. The open contempt with which this administration and its cohorts of liberal elite supporters regard the population of “flyover country” is not lost on them either.

    Reply

  35. drew says:

    Wordie, the balance didn’t shift to 59-41, except in the world
    where there are only two political entities that count.
    That world doesn’t exist. The third, largest, entity is called
    “Independent”.
    Since politicians begin and end their days doing a kind of net
    present electoral value calculation, and they have now convinced
    themselves that independents have flipped and gone 2-1
    negative against the administration and its Dem Party priorities,
    they are making decisions based on the NEGATIVE value that
    they assign to their present position. They believe they would
    lose if the election were tomorrow. Having Emanuel brow-beat
    and humiliate people under the assumption that there are only
    two teams on the field (as is true, incidentally, in Chicago) is
    not-a-gonna work. Disagree? cf. the Becker nomination
    cloture vote yesterday.

    Reply

  36. Drew says:

    I divide my time between the rural upper midwest and
    Washington, which provides an unusual perspective. While I
    enjoy these discussions as much as the next guy, and I too
    admire Luce, I think they often miss the point.
    The point is the country — not ‘the obstructionist’ elements of
    Congress — is 2-1 opposed and often aghast in regard to the
    signature elements of this administration.
    Obama could have Buddy and Rex Ryan as inner circle advisers,
    and that would be more fun than the present crowd, but the
    people out there in the country are making their own minds up.
    They don’t care about the sidebars and wit and chicks and the
    bass beat of Cafe Milano. They do not develop opinions based
    on the maneuverings of this or that oh-so-breathless adviser.
    They are not ignorant proles. They may be slow to make up
    their minds, but they have minds, and it is the content, not the
    style or machinery, of this administration that is stopping it in
    its tracks. They’re basketball lovers, these guys. They’re trying
    to play basketball in sand. They must not know where they are.

    Reply

  37. Patrick49 says:

    “Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski,” seems like the Keystone Kops being called in as the Fire brigade.

    Reply

  38. MarkL says:

    Franklin,
    I didn’t try to recreate Obama’s argument about credit card caps because I wasn’t sure I could, but now I think I do: didn’t he say that he was against a 30% cap because allowing 30% was just too much? As opposed to having no cap at all!
    Totally outrageous, IMO, especially for people who know what credit card rates actually are.
    Whether Hillary in particular could have explained the need for stimulus better wasn’t exactly my point—just that there certainly are people in Congress who are sharp enough to explain economics, regardless of what they actually studied.

    Reply

  39. Franklin says:

    MarkL,
    Obama’s economic policy bonafides are going to be a subject of dispute.
    e.g. in the case of the federal stimulus, he took the right action; he just didn’t spend nearly enough to get things where they needed to go.
    A good faith defense might be that he recognized that there were risks in going to small with the measure, but that he didn’t think he could sell a bigger plan political. Even if that’s the case, I still don’t see why he didn’t use the moment to try to position in the event that a contingency plan was necessary. So even a good faith defense will be a severely qualified one.
    Having said that, even Clinton would have relied on her advisers for economic forecasts — she’s an attorney, not an economist. Having acknowledge that, Obama bears responsibility for the people he hires. If there isn’t some kind of internal after-action-review and course correction — an acknowledgment of mistakes — he’s going to screw up again.
    In reference to credit card limit caps on interest, I understand his argument about the rate caps during the campaign were reasonable (30 is an arbitrary cap). I think this is an area where reasonable people can disagree (e.g. on the one hand, effectively a rate cap would limit the availability of credit; on the other hand, that might not be such a bad thing).
    Rather than using a blunt instrument like a rate cap, I’m glad that — at a minimum there’s been some action to limit some of the deceptive practices such as shifting the rate on existing balances.
    The industry purchased Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005 is something that also needs to be desperately fixed. The creation of a Consumer Financial Products Agency along the lines that Elizabeth Warren has suggested makes sense.
    I agree with you in a qualified sense that Obama’s economic policy is a weakness — it’s an open question whether this is a problem of analysis; a problem of politics; or something else. The main criticism that I’d have with him is probably more in terms of emphasis and scale — not fundamental differences. The leadership in the Senate has been AWOL; the political opposition has been anything but loyal, and much of the population has been indoctrinated over the past two decades into believing that tax cuts and de-regulation produce uniformly positive benefits, and that all economic activity and job creation comes from the super-wealthy.

    Reply

  40. Peter Schurman says:

    I wonder how much of this critique is reaching Obama himself.
    Put another way, what will the President know, and when will he know it?

    Reply

  41. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    RodRandom…loved your observations…especially re Howard Dean..
    OA your recent comments on ballot access remind me of our last phone conversation on that subject..as you know, ballot access was one of my major efforts in the 60’s…it’s a cause dear to my heart….and the key to preserving the republic…
    On the Supreme Court ruling on corporations contributing to candidates, Congress should enact a law that says only elegible voters can contribute to political campaigns…Ralph Nader was decades ahead of everyone on corporationsd undue influence…read his old book on corporate lawyers.
    One man, one vote…one vote, one contribution, with limits.

    Reply

  42. Wordie says:

    I’m replying very late here, although I read the article yesterday, I needed some time to think about it. I’ve decided that I more or less agree with Tom Paine. It’s too early to talk of failure, and all the voices talking to you, Steve, may be more a reflection of the self-fulfilling prophecy sort of reporting I’ve been watching ever since the Scott Brown election. Everyone seemed to forget that the balance of power went from 60-40 to 59-41, which really wasn’t so terribly significant, especially since the 60 was no more than a chimera in the first place, given that it depended on Lieberman.
    Obama does need to change course – “bipartisanship” only works when there are two parties willing to participate in it – but it does appear he is already making adjustments in his approach. I’m hoping that he will be more pro-active than he’s been, and I do believe that he’ll soon either have to get the GOP to lessen their obstruction in the Senate, or get Reid to invoke the nuclear option. But “failure” is too strong a term, especially given all that he was handed to deal with by the last administration.
    I guess I just don’t want to add my own voice to that self-fulfilling murmur, because we all need him to succeed.

    Reply

  43. Sam says:

    I meant the above post for MarkL.

    Reply

  44. Sam says:

    Sam,
    Sorry but your arguments as to why Hillary would be a better president than Obama are very weak, imo. I n Obama knows some of his weaknesses, that is why Biden is vp, etc. I also don’t think she would be much different on many fronts than Obama. So, I see nothing “really sad” about Obama being the best candidate. k where the country was and what he has to deal with I think he was the best person for the job.

    Reply

  45. MarkL says:

    Hey Franklin,
    Thanks for the response.
    I just want to clarify something: I preferred Hillary, but I’m not saying she would have been a savior. Possibly Obama was the best of the top three candidates, which is really sad.
    Honestly I’m not following foreign policy very closely these days, but Hillary does not seem impressive as SOS, so my fandom is muted.
    My take on Obama’s qualifications is that economic policy is the weak spot. He is consistently poor at explaining economic issues. I don’t believe he understands them with sufficient clarity to be able to make informed judgments. This is his Achille’s heel more than any matter of style, because the economy is the most important issue for him right now.
    Do you remember the moment in the debates when he defended his vote against imposing a 30% cap on credit card interest rates? The vote was offensive, but his explanation was one of those which could only mean that he was an idiot, or he thought you were one. As I said earlier, on the question of the size of the stimulus, he was clearly at sea. I am sure that Hillary would have handled that particular question better.
    I don’t think he had sufficient experience to be an executive, but I’m certainly not the person to judge those qualifications. More pertinently, one could have said he didn’t have the experience or skills set to deal with the Senate. He was no leader in his short time there. Yes, he was a junior Senator, but to me that begs the question of why should you believe he could manage the Senate as President.
    One more area where I think Hillary would have been better: global warming. Hillary demonstrated a lot of knowledge about environmental/energy issues during the campaign—far more than Obama, in my opinion.
    In judging the moot question of whether Hillary was a better choice, I think her knowledge base on policy dwarfed Obama’s. Probably Biden knows a lot more than Obama too, although I have to admit he doesn’t show it all that often.
    On the question of whether Hillary could have tackled HCR better, don’t forget that she said she would NOT tackle it in her first year.
    Hard to argue with that stance now, I’d say.
    Last question of this comment: do you think any positive outcome can come from the bipartisan HCR summit? I would say Obama is just digging a deeper hole by relying on the same failed bipartisan shtick.

    Reply

  46. Franklin says:

    MarkL,
    My take on Obama is that his profile and preparation were unconventional, but still sufficient (e.g. assuming that the key areas of responsibility for a president are economic policy, foreign policy, and Constitutional law, combined with communication skills).
    In reference to HCR I’m not patting Obama on the back for anything yet — IF he can get the Senate version through with some tweaks though it will be a significant legislative achievement.
    Aside from a blind faith in Clinton’s ability to have managed the issue better, I’m not really clear exactly how Clinton would have achieved better or more efficient results.
    Many of the same qualms that people had about Obama applied to Clinton as well (e.g. lack of executive experience with the campaign being the closest proxy — her reliance on Mark Penn was an unmitigated disaster). She has the potential to be a superb Secretary of State.
    As far as how things play out with Obama, we’ll have to compare notes in 4 years. My sense though is that we probably won’t come to any kind of agreement.

    Reply

  47. rockmom says:

    How cute. Some of you actually expected this guy to DO something once he was elected! And some of you actually feared he was going to “destroy America.”
    The joke’s on all of you. The Obamas and Jarretts and Axelrods are living the high life on our dime. Barack gets to jet around the world making speeches and getting all those Eurotrash people to swoon over him, pick up unearned Nobel Peace Prizes, and Michelle gets to go shopping for more $500 shoes in London and Paris. Valerie gets to go to her favorite Georgetown restaurants and fly on Air Force One whenever she wants.
    THAT WAS THE POINT. These people are laughing their asses off at all of us, right and left, who think they are actually supposed to be doing something.
    You can’t be a failure if just getting the job was the whole point. Barack Obama is our First Black President. And that’s all he ever cared about being.
    As for Rahm and company, it’s clear the only thing that really gets a rise out of them is whatever Sarah Palin just said. This supposed chillbilly dunce has gotten so far into their heads that even Gibbs is going after her today.
    Hilarious.

    Reply

  48. Outraged American says:

    If Israel attacks Iran and starts WW III, then let’s not just shoot down
    Israel’s planes, let’s give them all 3 months to clear out and nuke
    the damn place.
    The “Holy Land” and all the endless war it’s engendered is way
    more trouble than it’s worth.
    And I love how purported “Americans” like Mr. Levenfeld (see his
    post above) base all US foreign policy decisions on what’s good for
    Israel.
    Make aliyah to Israel. We, real Americans, are fed-up with dualies
    like yourself and Rahm.

    Reply

  49. ww11 says:

    Tom Paine, taking a page out of the it-looks-so-bad-it-must-actually-be-good strategy, known in psychological circles as denial. It’s so humiliating and disappointing that Foxnews is right about the guy who was supposed to be on our side. Tom, we have to admit the truth when it’s right there in front of our eyes, no matter how painful. You should instead be asking yourself how come it took conservatives to say that the emperor has no clothes. Addressing structural problems? Oh, please.

    Reply

  50. Weldon Berger says:

    For the sake of accuracy in advertising, my
    prediction regarding the issues I mentioned above
    should be accessible by clicking on my name. If not,
    search my site for keywords ‘Obama compassionate
    conservative’ without the quotes. I’m as far outside
    the loop as one could possibly be; there’s no reason
    for more connected people to have missed the
    screamingly obvious.

    Reply

  51. Tom Paine says:

    Wait a minute, let’s not buy into this Fox News narrative as our default position. Let me suggest something that’s sure to boil the blood of the right wing:
    Barack Obama is NOT failing.
    Yes, there it is. I said it and I’m scrunching up my face waiting for the floodgates to open and a tide of conservative invective to pour forth.
    I humbly suggest that several consecutive quarters of economic growth, a slight decline in the unemployment rate (although still high, its not growing), Hank Paulson’s suggestion that we were staring into the mouth of a 25% unemployment rate at the end of the Bush administration and a deficit that, while high, is certainly not unreasonable in the context of the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression and pales in comparison to the deficit growth experienced under Reagan and Bush fils, all point to a fairly reasonable measure of accomplishment.
    Obama is attacking structural problems within our country that have languished for decades and haven’t been responsibly addressed by either party.
    But to call his presidency a failure less than halfway through his first term is more a reflection of the writer’s ideological bias than of any substantive examination of Obama’s achievements. He’s tackling big issues around which its not easy to build consensus and about which there are no easy answers.
    Using the word “failure” reflects more on you than on his presidency.

    Reply

  52. Weldon Berger says:

    I didn’t support Obama in 2008 because I thought he would end up where he is now. Emanuel may be a problem, but the more fundamental one is that Obama is a center-right politician whose primary passion is for compromise, not for any particular policy.
    He started with a weak health insurance reform proposal–very similar to Richard Nixon’s early 1970s one–and he had the stated intention to protect insurance company interests (all the ‘stakeholders’ at the table) and to negotiate (i.e., weaken) the nature of the proposal’s key elements. Of course it turned out to be an abomination; it was entirely predictable.
    With respect to executive branch overreach, there has never been and will never be a modern president who will give back powers appropriated by his predecessors. That was also predictable, and it was foreshadowed by his vote to immunize law-breaking telecoms and his refusal to even consider investigating the architects of the torture policies.
    The prospective closure of Guantanamo was a meaningless sop to civil libertarians. Regardless the location, at least some of the captives there will never see trial and will never be released. The civilian court trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed is a joke; the president and others have adopted, apparently in all seriousness, the punchline of that old cowboy joke: we’ll give him a fair trial and then hang him. So that’s hardly a tragedy and honestly, it’s the least of his difficulties.
    You can’t blame Rahm and the gang for economic policy. That’s Summers, Geithner, Bernanke and company. Maybe you can blame the inner circle for the contrast between the semi-populist presidential rhetoric and the pathetic public submission to financial interests, but you know, the campaign raked in enormous sums and good will from those very same interests.
    Obama is a compromiser operating in an environment of uncompromising problems. Of course he’s screwing up. He was always going to screw up. I’m no genius and it was obvious to me.

    Reply

  53. Josh M. says:

    Re: David Levenfeld
    Read “America and the World” — conversation between
    Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, moderated
    by David Ignatius.
    You’ll feel enlightened and will likely jump on the
    Dr. Brzezinski bandwagon. Just a thought.
    Btw — I really like the Fareed Zakaria mention as
    part of a Team B — he’s so sensible. I think that
    should really be given some more weight, though I
    admit it’d be a shame to miss GPS on Sundays…

    Reply

  54. David Levenfeld says:

    I think there are a lot of solid points in this article. Small groups become echo chambers and everyone finds it easy to agree. I especially agree that the Administration should make better use of the P.R. potential of the solid cabinet officials they recruited.
    However…one caveat. The recommendation that Zbigniew Brzezinski could be helpful as an advisor scares me because it is such an awful lapse in judgment. Just a few weeks ago Brzezinski was talking about the advisability of shooting down Israeli planes. He was ineffective and misguided during the foreign policy disasters of the Carter Administration and has had nothing positive to offer since.

    Reply

  55. Outraged American says:

    Angry Woman, have you ever heard Palin speak? Africa is a
    country? So what are Kenya & Sudan — states? And you would
    have this nitwit in charge of Africom?
    Although, on the bright side, Palin, given her track record
    dealing with minorities (like Native Alaskans — she ain’t got no
    time for them) in her home state, would probably just ignore
    our latest US Foreign Legion outpost because too many darkies
    live there.
    Sarah Palin flew after her water broke, endangering not just her
    special needs child (a very effective, yet “kosher” way to have a
    VERY late term abortion) but the crew and passengers of the
    planes she was on. Palin pro-life? My flat ass.
    You appear to be new here, so I’ll just tell you (all the oldies can
    tune out now like they usually do when I post) that during the
    last Prez campaign I was a producer on an indie TV & radio
    news show, broadcast nationally.
    Our goal with the show was to have a TRANS-PARTISAN dialogue
    in the US, so we had on any candidate who would come on. As
    such, we had on Kucinich, Paul, Barr and Gravel. Combining
    some elements of each of their ideologies would make an almost
    ideal candidate, but it was not to be.
    Instead on one hand, due to the UniParty, we got the choice of a
    relatively intelligent man, but one owned by special interests as
    all politicians are, and on the other a monster with a birdbrain
    for a running mate who would have been one melanoma/
    temper tantrum stroke away from the nuclear button.
    To all those who pine for the “good old days” of the Cheney
    regime and yet mourn that America isn’t America anymore, take
    a gander at the Cheney years:
    * endless and ever expanding war against this nebulous enemy
    called “Terror” (Islam, for those of you who lack critical thinking
    and any knowledge of DC Aviv — we’d be at war with Paraguay
    and the Catholic Church if Israel had been placed in South
    America)
    * trillions of dollars worth of debt as a result of that endless war,
    much of it funneled to war profiteers like, ahem, CHENEY,
    RUMSFELD and the Bush DieNasty.
    * AN EVISCERATION OF OUR BILL OF RIGHTS. Why aren’t the tea
    baggers upset at that — the tremendous loss of personal
    freedom guaranteed us by our founders is gone due to joint
    party efforts, but certainly the Cheney administration was the
    instigator.
    What is America without our Bill of Rights? Amerika.
    I could go on, but I just friggin’ hate spelling out for morons the
    basics of all we’ve lost in the last nine years. Quick hint: OUR
    COUNTRY.
    BTW: I have been reading POA’s posts for years and the last
    thing I would call him is a “misogynist”. An “embittered crank”
    yes, but a “misogynist” no.
    And I’m the founder of the nation of FemiNazia, which, much
    like Israel and many of these tea parties, is a haven for nutcases
    with extremist beliefs, so I should know a thing or two about
    misogyny and nut cases.
    Speaking of nutcases –.John McCain, pick up the white phone.
    I was talking to a friend of mine last night who has had one-on-
    one dealings with McCain’s betrayal of, not just his fellow POWs /
    MIAs, but also troops currently serving. She asked if I’d run out
    of shoes to throw at McCain’s old house — his former primary
    mansion being right down the street.
    Her husband, if he’s alive, is rotting in some Southeast Asian
    hell because of McCain and Kerrys’ betrayal of POWs/ MIAs. The
    last sighting of her husband happened just before McCain and
    Kerry put the kibosh on efforts to find the remaining POW/ MIAs.
    Torture? I wish the Viet Cong had taken that maggot out.

    Reply

  56. wtfci says:

    “As far as I know, he has no publication record at the U of Chicago.”
    Sound like a recurring theme? He was just a guest lecturer or an adjunct professor as the “created for him position” was known. He spent more hours in the day playing basketball than he did teaching constitutional law. Not that I can complain. I do too.
    It is. The public really didn’t have a track record to review with Obama. They had an engineered prototype that looked, sounded, and campaigned amazingly. It had never been tested.
    Well now it is being tested and it looks like a clunker.
    His problems can only get worse with Summers and Geithner under heavy pressure as the public learns more about the AIG bailout. This finance team has immense challenges ahead.

    Reply

  57. ww11 says:

    What’s not really helpful is pretending that the President is
    interested in actually doing good by the American people (which he
    said he would), rather than simply keeping their own power. Policy
    wonkish comments that obsess about who would be on some
    fantasy “Team B” is at this point more suited for a sports blog,
    where they obsess about imaginary allstar teams, than it is for a
    response to a gang of thugs for whom the term power wonk is
    more apt. I think the frustration some are sensing from other
    commenters here is that the article clearly indicates that neither
    Obama nor his group care to know what’s really going on – or they
    only care in so much as it helps them keep their reign intact, no
    matter what happens to you or me. So, the question is how to get
    them out of power, not how to get Obama to do the right thing.

    Reply

  58. JDW says:

    The problem with Rahm is that he’s a miserable midget of a man. Let’s not couch it with “of short stature” or “dwarf”. Rahm’s “retarded” comment shows he’s a man who likes direct talk. No BS. So, we must acknowledge his midgetude. How better to put it? He’s just…just…so freakin’ tiny! Being 5’7″, but always having to look UP at people you are actually “more powerful” than must make for a bitter irony. He’s tried the shoes with the big soles. They only gave him two inches and were ridiculous in Armani. There should be a law that no man may hold high political office who is under 6′. For that matter there should be another law – that no woman may hold office who is…well…female. That would then make ineligible both Valeri Jarrett and Robert Gibbs. Not sure what Axelrod is. If prohibiting narcissistic a**holes from office were possible maybe we’d have something with David. But then, how would Obama remain in office?

    Reply

  59. notsarahpalin says:

    Fran, with respect, you don’t know WTF you are talking about. Your characterization “people like you”, meaning Steve’s writing during 2008 bears no resemblance to reality. Your claim that “people like you” and those commenting here have not primarily held HBO responsible shows you are not familiar with the writing here. Your petty “it is on him”, Obama, shows a pretty shallow understanding that this is about the country, not Obama, and certainly not Steve. Or you.
    Listen up or go away. “people like you” are not helpful.

    Reply

  60. Josh M. says:

    Re: Fran (the comment immediately above)”The most
    startling thing about this post, and many who are
    trying to figure out why this administration is
    tanking, is that you never make Obama, the actual
    president, responsible.”
    I think the piece itself responds to that rather
    clearly–Obama is responsible for his own team.
    But on a different note, I’d like to see a piece
    as incisive as this that skewers Congressional
    leadership for being so damn feckless.
    It’s hard to see the Repubs as much else other
    than obstructionists these days, and the Tea Party
    clan is doing funky things to a few political
    bases (check out the 3 primary challengers to Ron
    Paul).
    The government isn’t governing. Fixing
    presidential leadership is one way of doing this–
    and sending Rahm back to Congress as the Dem Tom
    Delay sounds extraordinarily effective.
    Still though, Congress sucks. It’s ironic. Join
    Congress to serve the people and then fight like
    hell to keep your job. In the process of keeping
    your job, sacrifice the people’s interests. So
    what’s the point? Our people just aren’t willing
    to make the hard choices.
    The President is one electoral decision, and he’s
    got problems, but I think he’s on balance a hell
    of a lot better than the alternative ticket.
    Now look at Congress–535 problems. (Not to be
    hyperbolic, but the idea is clear…)

    Reply

  61. kcbill13 says:

    good job Steve Clemons, again you make sense.
    I agree with others that Howard Dean would be a big help, RE should go, and soon. I think Volcker being drawn to inside, and getting rid of entire Summers / Geithner Goldman Sachs group would help. Hagel might help, but Powell has no more credibility for anything.
    all the best to all who are really engaging.
    Thanks Steve.

    Reply

  62. Fran says:

    Your Obama/inside DC fandom is obvious from this piece. The most startling thing about this post, and many who are trying to figure out why this administration is tanking, is that you never make Obama, the actual president, responsible. He is never the one who is accountable. It’s always, the “people around him offering bad advice.” Excuse me, but who is the Commander in Chief? If he was/is not experienced and capable enough to do the job, then it is on him. All through 2008, people like you claimed experience was not important, because Obama had some kind of superior judgment. Either he has judgment and is making poor choices, in advisors and strategy, or he never had it in the first place. Can’t have it both ways. What happened to Truman: the buck stops here?

    Reply

  63. thetruth says:

    Rahm is a douchebag. The problem is his douchebaggery has not produced results.
    It’d be one thing if his image as a hard-hitting streetfighter resulted in bringing wayward caucus members on board for at least procedural votes. But that has obviously not happened. In fact, it’s been the opposite, and those same conservadems have walked all over the Dem caucus with absolutly no reprecussions. Resulting in the Democrats as a whole looking like they cannot even govern when given the presidency, both houses, and a super-majority in the Senate.
    That image, and actual reality, of being incapable of governing when having so many clear advantages, is directly the result of leadership positions like the Chief of Staff. He’s supposed to be bringing the hammer down on recalcitrant Dems like Lieberman and Nelson. Instead he’s calling progressives who rallied and organized support for Obama in the last election, “retards”. He’s empowering the very people who are hamstringing the process and making his president look weak and ineffectual, and undercutting his president’s most ardent supporters.
    Rahm’s whole persona as a tough-guy doesn’t ever seem to extend to actual political fights with conservadems or Republicans. It’s largely based on his bullying the left wing of his own caucus and saying “motherfucker” a lot.

    Reply

  64. Lazarus Long says:

    Before the election I repeatedly said that an Obama Presidency would make us look back on Jimmy Carter with nostalgia and longing.
    Bingo.
    And this:
    “Set up a Team B with diverse political and national security observers like Tom Daschle, John Podesta, Brent Scowcroft, Arianna Huffington, Fareed Zakaria, Katrina vanden Heuvel, John Harris, James Fallows, Chuck Hagel, Strobe Talbott, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and others to give you a no-nonsense picture of what is going on.”
    Sure, if you want to nosedive America into the ground like a bad test pilot.

    Reply

  65. Pat says:

    Basically this article says that it is not Obama’s fault, but the people he surrounds himself with. If this is so, then here we have more proof of how much a disaster Obama is. I don’t know if that means that Obama is definitely an amateur whose way over his head in the presidency. What I do know is that Obama is supposed to be the president, that means HE is responsible. Period.

    Reply

  66. ahem says:

    Mr Obama is ruining his own presidency: he’s a radical marxist who is talented enough a liar to pass himself off as a centrist. Many otherwise good people were deceived by him. Even you will understand this eventually. Also, he has no experience and is not used to the give and take required in a democracy; he’d rather rule by edict. You’ll notice that his voting record in the senate suggests that he never compromises his hard Left positions–never. So he ain’t gonna be governing on a bi-partisan basis any time soon. Has it ever occurred to you that he is like a date-rapist, persisting even after his date has said ‘no’ several times?
    Of course, the Chicago mob and their rotten style of brute-force politics isn’t helping. But you have to ask yourself: why did he surround himself with such people–uncompromising, ruthless, marxists–in the first place? Obviously, there’s a natural affitnity at work. Could it be that Obama is not the man you thought he was?
    I say yes.

    Reply

  67. MarkL says:

    By the way, Franklin,
    I can see that if someone thought Obama was brilliant and inspiring, his record would be fine.
    The problem I and many others had was that we found him very ordinary as a candidate.
    His speeches don’t do anything for me. I’ll grant that others are inspired by his delivery, but the content has always been unimpressive to me.
    Since election, he has given numerous speeches, but they never move policy (questions, time for some poll numbers and another interminable essay on how hard the POTUS job is. I knew you’d like Franklin’s comment, btw); that’s because they are too vague, IMO.
    Obama’s poll numbers do go up, but that’s about it.

    Reply

  68. MarkL says:

    Franklin,
    Of course I ridicule the community organizer part of his background—as preparation for President it’s a joke. Even worse, it appears he’s bringing those skill sets, such as they are, to the job of POTUS. Seeing that Obama actually believes his bipartisan shtick, and seeing that he seems to be trying to community organize the nation instead of leading, are two of the rawest jokes of the last year. And yes, the job might have brought him understanding of poorer constituents. That’s in evidence now, if you think of his compassionate dealings with distressed multinational banks.
    Thanks for the information about Obama’s legislative career. Pretty thin record for his time in the legislature, I’d say, and an ok first year as a Senator.
    Your pre-congratulation of Obama on HCR is not very welcome. I’ve been reading for months that Obama ALREADY is a bigger success than FDR, Truman, LBJ or Clinton in this area.
    If he fails this time, he’ll be in much worse shape than Clinton; furthermore, I’m not willing to give congratulations over just any bill. Unlike you and Obama, I do care what’s in the package.. just getting his name on the bill is not enough.
    Lastly, I have no idea what you mean when you say that Obama has dealt with big Constitutional questions. He’s a lawyer, like most politicians. He’s taught law school, like many others.
    As far as I know, he has no publication record at the U of Chicago. So can you take your 2008 hushed and awed campaign speak down to earthly levels and explain what is out of the ordinary about Obama’s legal background for his profession?

    Reply

  69. questions says:

    What Franklin said.
    Nice post.

    Reply

  70. JBean says:

    From Luce:
    “’We are treated as though we are children,’ says the head of a large organisation that raised millions of dollars for Mr Obama’s campaign. ‘Our advice is never sought. We are only told: ‘This is the message, please get it out.’ I am not sure whether the president fully realises that when the chief of staff speaks, people assume he is speaking for the president.'”
    Fascinating. Why would the president not realize how his closest advisors operate? Why is there such an obsessive need to absolve Obama from a year littered with mistakes, and instead foist everything off on his advisors, the Congress, the public, talk-show hosts, cable TV, etc.?
    It’s fairly obvious that Obama’s strategy is to save himself above all, but it’s curious, very curious, as to why there is so much support for this tactic among so-called “insiders,” who are otherwise known for their cynicism.
    What is so terrible, so prohibitive, about putting the blame where it belongs — at the top?

    Reply

  71. bill g says:

    After all the talk that Hillary said about Bush not paying attention to N.K. and Iran….time to have a big party…come on Iran show the Dems. what you got….lets get it on. These fucking Libs have no guts or backbone….send them a message….laughing…bunch of pussies…

    Reply

  72. Franklin says:

    MarkL,
    Obama had several pieces of legislation connected to Veterans issues and aid to developing nations that were voted into law in his first year — a pretty decent achievement. His work with Lugar was solid. He had some pretty good transparency in government legislation that made it through as well. He was the sponsor or co-sponsor of several hundred bills as a Senator that were stuck in Committee (suggesting at a minimum that he was an active and engaged legislator until he started campaigning).
    In terms of his work in the state legislature, he worked on some tough issues related to police interrogations and transparency in government.
    The community organizer work is actually an interesting bit of real world life experience when he was in his 20s. It’s a sad statement about how little we tend to value public service, non-profit work in this country that people ridicule the work. Personally, I see value in people with options and education putting their skills to work helping others. The experience likely provided a pretty decent ground level understanding of the kind of issues that a president might deal with related to education, employment, etc in distressed areas.
    In terms of the legal training, there’s something to be said for having a president who has actually grappled with big Constitutional questions before getting into office.
    In terms of his life experience having lived outside of the country and having seen the world as a young man from the vantage point of an ordinary Joe is likely to have some value in dealing with issues at the top.
    Even though I’m dismayed by the way that HCR has unfolded, the compromises that have taken place, and some political mismanagement of the issue, the reality is that Obama has already moved the process further than Bill Clinton did. If he actually gets the House and Senate to put legislation on his desk, it will be a significant political achievement.
    As far as judging Obama, I think any judgments at this stage are going to be at best preliminary. I think his over-reliance on an old Clinton hand for economic policy advice has been a mistake in his first year. His move on the economic stimulus was significant, but not large enough to reverse the declines in the job market (his forecasters either screwed up, or they played the politics wrong by framing the stimulus as an economic fix when it clearly wasn’t sufficiently robust).
    Judged on just his first year he’s taken some steps in the right direction with respect to foreign policy. The fact that he hasn’t had more progress is as much a statement about the intractability of some of the challenges, the range of domestic challenges on his plates, as well as his follow-up in those areas.
    Given the options in 2008 I’m hard pressed to see any of the other options having had more success.
    McCain would have been a bigger disaster vis a vis the economy. Edwards would have lost the general. If Clinton had won the nomination and the presidency, its quite likely that her lack of coattails and political organization in key states would have resulted in even narrower majorities than the Dems currently enjoy (e.g. Franken, Merkley, and Begich probably wouldn’t have won; Haggan would have been much closer too).
    The problems with a largely dysfunctional Senate would still be there. Clinton may have been more adept at throwing elbows and getting things moving; although I suspect this may be an overly optimistic view. The GOP would have been just as motivated to obstruct her as they have him.

    Reply

  73. MarkL says:

    Bill Mitchell,
    I don’t agree with your criteria, especially number 1, but I do think Obama has a thin record of writing (serious writing–puff autobiographies don’t count), especially for someone who worked as a law professor at UChicago. While president of the harvard law review, he published 1 or 2 articles, and not all of those under his name—a ridiculous record for someone holding that position at that school.
    Did he publish anything at ALL on the law while in Chicago?
    And dont’ tell me that his post was such an honor that he wasn’t expected to write, or some such blather: he had a part time job in the IL Sen..
    He could have written some articles on law, or foreign policy. If he was actually “brilliant”, he would have been driven to prove himself in writing.
    His lack of depth in economics is his worst failing, IMO. It leaves him at the mercy of his advisers in decision making, and then, as a mentioned before, unable to articulate clear reasons for his economic policy.
    The stimulus package was a good example.
    Many economists said the stimulus had to be much larger, but Obama chose a smaller stimulus, without ever giving a reason.
    You could tell that the actual number didn’t matter to him, nor where the money went; only the symbolism passing a stimulus bill counted.
    Same with the HCR bill, obviously—only passing a bill matters to him.
    Clinton would never have been so passive about the details of a bill, even one forced on him by Republicans.

    Reply

  74. MarkL says:

    Franklin,
    Obama’s record in the US Senate consisted of rolling over for Bush on importants votes like FISA. He did some meaningful work related to Nunn-Lugar, but he was only ok—he certainly didn’t impress.
    In his part time job as an IL State Sen., he had a very thin record until he was literally given a raft of important bills which he did not write to claim as his own, to prepare him for his run as President. While in IL, he worked with the insurance companies to weaken insurance legislation.
    You forgot the most important part of his resume (as I was told over and over again during the campaign): he was a community organizer!
    Comparing Clinton to Obama is a joke.
    Sure Clinton “triangulated”, when he had to work with a Republican Congress after 1994.
    But Obama has taken more positions on HCR in the last 6 months than Clinton took in 8 years of office on anything! Also, unlike Obama, Clinton could explain economic policy in everyday language, which I have not seen Obama do once.
    Furthermore, Clinton could give speeches which changed people’s minds—something I have yet to see Obama do.
    It was you, Franklin, or some other defender who said that Obama was ok, judged by the standard of a so-so President. Wow.. did you really intentionally vote for a mediocrity in time of crisis?
    Why?

    Reply

  75. Jane says:

    What happened to “the buck stops here?”
    The president himself lacked engagement, clarity and will in presenting the health reform bill to the public, those who should benefit from reform. Strong leadership was and is needed.
    Your focus ignores the elephant in the room–the president himself.

    Reply

  76. starboardhelm says:

    Blasphemy! The president is doing just fine relying on these people. They even pick his ties and write the stuff for his tele-binky. He couldn’t breathe unless they chant “Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.” Really. He neeeeds them! Although the magic does seem to have dissapated since the 13th witch put a curse on him at that inauguration party.

    Reply

  77. Franklin says:

    Bill Mitchell,
    How many presidents actually would fulfill your criteria?
    1) Run a successful business.
    2) Govern anything.
    3) Draft meaningful legislation.
    In reference to #1 you’d be pretty hard pressed to find many presidents that fulfilled that particular standard. I can name a few though who had pretty unsuccessful careers in business.
    #2 and #3 depend mostly on how you define “anything” and “meaningful”.
    In terms of #3 Obama had some pretty solid achievements as a state legislator; his work as a freshman Senator too was above the norm. Especially as a member of the minority party in 2005-2006.
    His resume isn’t exactly textbook, but he has some pretty decent chops if you figure that the presidency requires an understanding of law, foreign policy, and economic policy.
    As far as Obama’s “Marxist” ideology goes, anytime someone tries to slap that label on Obama they’re pretty much putting a big sign over their head with the words “I AM AN IDIOT”.
    The only people who think Obama is a Marxist are the clowns who think that a Capitalist market economy can be reduced to two words: “tax cuts”.

    Reply

  78. James says:

    I hope Obama sticks with the dolts from Chicago, because in three years that is where he is headed back to. They can all squeeze money out of the folks back there and retire with fat wallets and their narrow-minded ideas in a friendly cesspool.

    Reply

  79. tanarg says:

    We warned you that Obama was incompetent, inexperienced, and unsuited for the presidency (the idea that he would even seek the office is ludicrous).
    But you wouldn’t listen. Spare me the scraping of his sorry arz off the sidewalk.

    Reply

  80. laurie says:

    In 2010- May we please elect an adult! As president, Obama is beyond his paygrade. Godspeed 2012. It can’t come soon enough.

    Reply

  81. WarEagle01 says:

    Obama’s loyalty to his buds is admirable, but it is destroying his presidency. He needs to ditch these dimwits. They are embarrassing him daily. From the ballerina Emanuele with his stupid “never let a strategy go to waste” shtick to the Rasputinesque twit Jarret, these people are just losers. Gibbs is a mental midget. I’ve never seen a press secretary that does such a poor job as that guy. He’s absolutely horrible at his job. The Obama presidency is going down and it is largely because of these hacks.

    Reply

  82. Bathus says:

    What silliness! The problem within the Obama admin is simple, and obvious, for those willing to see it.
    The problem with the Obama administration is Obama. More precisely, the problem is that Obama is intellectually lazy.
    Obama gives us a gaffe-a-day because he’s always been the smart, black, guy who could get along very nicely, thank you, without ever having to do his homework, and that lazy habit has made him disinclined, probably now incapable, of doing the work of actually thinking through the practical and philosophical details one must struggle with in order to govern effectively.
    Because of the contemporary infatuation with a black man who is, as Joe Biden said, “clean” and “articulate,” Obama has always gotten by mouthing mindless leftist BS, and that easy ride has made Obama habitually too lazy to do his homework. How else could he not bother, for example, to learn that his host country’s people do not speak “Austrian”? How else could he not bother to learn, before lecturing nervous investors, that it’s called the “price/earning ratio,” not the “profits/earnings ratio.”
    Facile leftist slogans can work well in a campaign when the MSM wants oh so badly to witness the historic election of the first black prez. Many who fancy themselves grand intellectuals mistake those slogans as true wisdom. But those facile shallow slogans masquerading as policy (e.g., about closing Gitmo) don’t cut it in the all-too-deadly-real business of foreign affairs and national security. Calling businesspeople “fat cats” can get you elected, but it won’t fix the economy. Obama possesses the mental horsepower, but he lacks the intellectual fortitude, the intellectual stick-to-it-ivness becasue he’s been allowed all his life to believe that his words are poetic magic, that all he had to do was say the word and the word was done. He’s never had to learn the difference between fancy words and hard worked deeds. His only accomplishments, ever, have been purely verbal. Simply put, he is all talk. And, as even the infatuated have finally begin to realize, the talk which they had mistaken for political poetry, is actually lukewarm, warmed-over, stale, thin leftist gruel.
    Combine Obama’s intellectually laziness with his intellectual arrogance and you have in this president a man certain to fail whenever confronted by any real concrete task. Obama is too lazy to think for himself, and too arrogant to find some truly smart and wise people (as opposed to fawningm, partisan ideologues) to do his thinking for him. So he will blame Bush, then blame the GOP, then blame the congress as a whole, then blame the Fed, eventually blame even the fawning press, then blame “the people,” and ultimately blame his “closest” advisors, fire those closest advisors, hire new ones, blame them, fire them, rinse, repeat.
    Other than quadrupling the annual deficit (with no discernable good economic effect, and probably deep and chronic negative effects), what exactly has Obama accomplished in his first year? Whether you are a left wing loon or a right wingnut, or somewhere in between, the answer to that question is exactly the same: Obama has accomplished absolutely nothing. He has messed up practically everything he has touched (China, Iran, healthcare) and whatever he hasn’t totally screwed-up, he has simply abandoned altogether (Gitmo, the mid-East peace process).
    If we are very lucky, Obama will grow bored with all this tiresome business of governing, go off to shoot hoops most of the day, and let Joe Biden de facto run the show. Biden is no political Einstein, but even he will better than this Accidental President.

    Reply

  83. nadine says:

    Steve, Your post has now made today’s Most Read list on RealClearPolitics.com

    Reply

  84. nadine says:

    Hi MarkL, no I didn’t realize you were a PUMA. That would explain your not succumbing to the Hopium fumes despite being a liberal Democrat. PUMAs also woke up to media bias when the media turned Hillary, e.g. the under fire at Tusla story. The Clintons told such ‘war stories’ for many years and never got called on it; usually, the media only fact-checks Republicans.

    Reply

  85. jerry linane says:

    is there a dem out there that can divide 435
    by 1/2 then add 1
    if there is would you please get together
    with some other dem who knows the significance
    of 60 votes in the senate
    then explain it to your crybaby colleagues
    how rep could not be obstructionists

    Reply

  86. Roci says:

    I like the President. I campaigned for him, and will again, if he’s the only choice I have. But one cannot deny that something is very wrong with this White House. It feels wrong. It acts wrong. There is a marked and historic difference between those who run a campaign, and those who manipulate their way through the pitfalls of political governance. FDR and JFK are wonderful examples of Presidents who knew when to campaign, and how to use advisers to make sound judgments of governance. President Obama’s problem is that he has no Harry Hopkins, and no Kitchen Cabinet. He has a few to many Mark Hannah’s in the mix by the sound of things. If he doesn’t act, or more to the point, re-act, and soon he will be a failure as a President. That is not mine own judgment alone but one whose shadows I can see in the cold dispassionate eyes of the history thru which I have lived, and have no desire whatsoever to re-live.

    Reply

  87. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its hilarious reading the commentary of those defending Palin.
    Time after time the ignorant twit gets behind the podium and demonstrates she doesn’t know shit from shinola, yet here we find a “college educated” woman with a “very high IQ” trying to tell us that Palin’s uninformed ignorant blather is somehow astute or intelligent. I have no doubt Palin’s cutesy folksy “I’ve got a great ass, and I can think too” act resonates soundly with a good portion of the right. But I am always amazed when one of them crawls out of their coma and actually admits it.

    Reply

  88. Bill Mitchell says:

    Why does everyone keep talking about how TALENTED Obama is?
    The man is almost 50 and you can list his accomplishments (other than getting elected) on the back of a cocktail napkin. Now how is that such a brilliant, talented man has never:
    1) Run a successful business.
    2) Govern anything.
    3) Draft meaningful legislation.
    He set a record for voting “present” in the state legislature. He comes down on both sides of every issue. The ONE thing he is really good at is being a marxist ideologue.
    The reason that he is governing like an empty suit is because he IS an empty suit. It’s called Ockham’s Razor, look it up.

    Reply

  89. nadine says:

    “Pretty much every president spends his first year with a steep learning curve. No president in recent decades inherited the myriad challenges on day one.” (Franklin)
    …or blithely promised a recovering economy, Mideast Peace, Universal Health Care, and Cap and Trade by the end of his first year.
    Heck, he couldn’t even close Gitmo.
    If Obama ever understood that he would have a steep learning curve in his first year, he showed no sign of it. He over-promised and under-delivered in a massive way. Rookie mistakes.

    Reply

  90. Titus Oates says:

    “Send Rahm back to the House in a senior role?”
    So members of the House are now appointed by our Fearless Leader?

    Reply

  91. Diane says:

    “A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.”
    It was always nothing more than empty words, only now everyone sees that. Like the actually great politician from Illinois once said: You can’t fool all of the people, all of the time.

    Reply

  92. Franklin says:

    Dennis,
    Pretty much every president spends his first year with a steep learning curve. No president in recent decades inherited the myriad challenges on day one.
    Measured by a first year, Obama has done no worse than Clinton did in year one (e.g. politically inept in terms of the roll out of health care and prioritizing of Gays in the Military in year one at a time when the political will wasn’t their; Somalia; the multiple problems with appointing Arkansas friends into positions of responsibility).
    In terms of public approval he’s where Reagan was after year one.
    Pretty amazing too considering that Reagan didn’t inherit the kind of hyper-partisan environment that Obama is operating in.
    Really the worst that can be leveled at the president is that the times demand something more than just an average or marginally above average president. Business as usual won’t cut it.
    It doesn’t really help that you are blaming Obama for the economic effects of policies that haven’t even happened (e.g. tax increase on small business owners? Nothing that Obama has done or proposed measures up to Reagan’s tax increases under TEFRA in 1983).
    Additionally, you have to make a choice on some of these issues.
    The auto bail-out, which was small peanuts compared to TARP, actually involved concessions for all of the stake holders — including the UAW.
    Creditors of firms getting tax-payer support shouldn’t be getting 100 cents on the dollar — especially considering that many of these speculators already purchased the distressed GM debt at discounted prices.
    If we’d actually made harder concessions on the financial sector, akin to the way that we treated the autos, the taxpayers would have gotten a much better ROI.
    The GOP actually played a constructive role in forcing concessions on the UAW and GM (in no small part because people like Sen. Corker saw a potential benefit for state industries with a GM failure).
    When it came to the big financials, however, the GOP in the Senate was uniformly on its knees pleading for Wall Street firms to show them kindness at the fundraising cycle.

    Reply

  93. shellbeach says:

    Right on! This editorial says it all to a person and voter in the hinterland. I sense a disconnect between the White House and the people. But I forgot, the White House, the US Supreme Court and Congress are in a world of their own in D.C. The rest of us will just have to take care of ourselves!

    Reply

  94. Maw of America says:

    Oh, how I miss Paul Wellstone…

    Reply

  95. Ken Bolick says:

    Steve,
    Your article about the “Chicago gang” was right on!! I sent a fairly comprehensive email to several major publications concerning the same subject a couple of weeks ago, except I called them the “Chicago Mafia.”
    Obama definitely needs some dependabe advisors who understand Washington, the congress and Obama’s constituency. Plouffe is a good move; beginning to listen to Volcker is another, which reminds me, Obama also needs to fire the Goldman Sachs lobby (Summers, Bernanke, Geithner, etal). We need some financial pros who will look out for our interests, not those of Goldman Sachs, they have had a license to steal for too long.
    Excellent article; keep up the good work.
    Capn Ken

    Reply

  96. Ken Bolick says:

    Steve,
    Your article about the “Chicago gang” was right on!! I sent a fairly comprehensive email to several major publications concerning the same subject a couple of weeks ago, except I called them the “Chicago Mafia.”
    Obama definitely needs some dependabe advisors who understand Washington, the congress and Obama’s constituency. Plouffe is a good move; beginning to listen to Volcker is another, which reminds me, Obama also needs to fire the Goldman Sachs lobby (Summers, Bernanke, Geithner, etal). We need some financial pros who will look out for our interests, not those of Goldman Sachs, they have had a license to steal for too long.
    Excellent article; keep up the good work.
    Capn Ken

    Reply

  97. MarkL says:

    Nadine,
    Didn’t you know that I’m a PUMA?
    So I’ve been told many times.
    Also, POA has generally lumped me in with your crowd. He used to think I was a dupe signature for another Zionist whose name I have forgotten.
    Hey, if your party hadn’t nominated a brain-damaged, homicidal ex frat boy in 2000 to ruin the brand name, and then nominated a trigger-happy has been in 2008, you might have some grounds for criticizing Obama.
    Obama is definitely better than W. and McCain.
    Dole would have been better than Obama, as was Bush I.

    Reply

  98. nadine says:

    “Nadine, which “the people?” (questions)
    The people who have been steadily more opposed to Obamacare than in favor of it since late last June, which, if memory serves, is just about when Obama began making his 29 speeches in favor of it. Current RealClearPolitics poll average: opposed by 16.5%
    MarkL and DonS, I agree Obama is not well-versed on policy. Did you notice that before he was elected, or just now? I noticed that his policy references were mostly liberal boilerplate during the Dem primaries in early 2008.
    This was when the entire press corps was assuring me that Obama was such a genius that his lack of experience would be no problem.

    Reply

  99. Neo Controll says:

    Joseph, you are undoubtedly a new commenter here. Welcome. Before you embarrass yourself too much, recognize that folks here recognize boilerplate stupidity, except for some, who shall go unmentioned, who get all excited because they smell fresh, gullible meat reflecting hack talking points.
    You’re not the only one who has stumbled in here. Raise the level of your contribution, or stumble out. It’s all the same.

    Reply

  100. joseph says:

    Completely misguided analysis.
    Yes it is apparent that the Obama “A” Team is arrogant, incompetent and do not have a clue what is required to run the greatest office in the world. A bunch of infantiles led by a narcissist.
    But this is just minor compared to the fact that fundamentally Obama is the apogee of the failed socialist/liberal philosophy which has pulled your country down over the past 60 or more years.
    Obama is indeed a liberal ideologue.
    His fiscal and economic policies are fundamentally at odds with what made America great and his social policies are immoral and completely against the grain of the average American. This is a guy who has on problem with policies and laws that allow the killing of children up to 8months in the mothers womb.
    Irrespective of what he does therefore he will fail.

    Reply

  101. DonS says:

    MarkL, I think you are right about Obama’s speeches. Mostly they rely on body language and persona, and the intended audience being inducted into the process — because they are sympathetic, want to believe, or identify with something of their own — or being repulsed for the concomitant opposites. Much the same could be said of many political speeches and their progenitors.
    Seriously though, what counts is whether the pol can deliver, and uses the speeches to grease the skids, garner mass approval, reassure and address legitimate concerns, etc.
    Over time, without delivering on leadership, the speeches get viewed as cant, or worse, and the audience turns cynical (those who aren’t negative from the beginning). And I think this becomes especially sensitive where the pol tries to shift ground as Obama has recently with his experimentation with populist rhetoric.
    The tools in the toolbox become scarcer and duller. And the way to recoup momentum requires more shock and awe — and follow through.

    Reply

  102. questions says:

    Nadine, which “the people?” The ones who have declared bankruptcy because of medical bills? The ones whose family members die because they can’t afford medical care? The ones whose premiums jump 30 or 40 percent in a year? The ones who lose their jobs because they get sick and their small-business employer dumps them because of the damage to health premiums for the other workers? The ones who line up at free clinics all around the country for any kind of care? The ones with high blood pressure untreated leading to strokes and death?
    Which “The People”, Nadine? Which?
    Do you know anyone with a pre-existing condition who is on the individual market? Do you have any sense at all that people divorce, die, get fired or otherwise lose health coverage and then cannot replace it? And I know you think the market will fix it all — Minnit Clinnik for the poor and sick, the Ritz Mayo for the well-insured. And since you’re really rich, you’ll be at the Ritz laughing at the poor slobs who are given the equivalent of an adhesive bandage for their cancer. That market is just so godly in its wisdom…..
    People actually do want access to health insurance and health care. And they’d like the premiums to be stable. And they’d like to have the insurance company actually pay for cancer care and stroke care and high blood pressure care and diabetes care and asthma care. And they’d like the insurance company not to dump them because they get sick. Even poor people would actually like not to die from preventable and treatable diseases. Funny that. Even poor people want to stay alive and well.
    So which people are the ones who don’t want health care?
    *****
    As for advisers to help out — the political and policy sides of the world are so very different. Politics determines what can pass, but policy determines what is rational. The two don’t often meet. Krugman tries for rational. Emanuel tries for passable. Utterly different skills and having the wrong skill set in the wrong place is a disaster.
    So go ahead and get some political creatures to work Congress. Get some advertising creatures to tell us what to think. Get some policy wonks to figure out that guaranteed issue and mandates are like concave and convex. Just don’t tell us we have to pay for shit, and don’t tell Congress it has to pay.

    Reply

  103. Dennis says:

    Having read all the comments here as well as the ref’d FT piece, while I concur and Edwards analysis as far as it goes, I am amazed at how cloistered – how Beltway – the viewpoints are. No offense meant, but you are breathing your own exhaust.
    The president brought nearly no relevant experience to this job. The fact that he won on little more than a campaign slogan and great telepromptering is more a testament to the tarnish from Bush, the weakness of McCain, the Clinton baggage, a great (and well funded) grass-roots campaign, the thrill of electing our first black President, and a fawning media. He won by a healthy margin, but it was no landslide.
    So what he brought to Washington was an excellent campaign team who are now his primary policy advisors, when overwhelmingly they see everything through a political prism – a Chicago style one at that. What could go wrong?
    The evidence certainly suggests that Obama breathes his own exhaust. He appears to actually believe he is “the One” (“the difference from ’94 is that you have me”.) He is the master of the strawman, which he uses manipulatively not only talking to the public (this has really gotten old) but even those whose support he needs (a perfect example was his response to Blanche Lincoln). His speeches always lead with “it’s not about me” while he refers to himself a hundred times.
    It is to be expected that after speeches ad nauseum where he says things shown later to be demonstrably false, that he claims the problem with the falling support is that he hasn’t “communicated well enough” (stupid public that we are). Pal, stop telling people things they know not to be true and stop switching tag lines looking for something that will just stick and stop trying to force people into things they don’t feel right about.
    The progressives here feel betrayed because he hasn’t shoved more down the public’s throat. A poster above stated that no more than 30% of the electorate is progressive; actually that’s a bit less than the total number of self-identified Democrats, the real number of genuine progressives is less than 20%. The country is center-right; sorry, get over it. If progressive policies are going to get enacted, they must be palatable on substance to the larger electorate and most importantly, to the independents (or weren’t you watching in VA, NJ, and MA?).
    And there is the fundamental rub. Obama wants to push through progressive policies, but a majority of the country don’t agree with what they are. IMO he would have gotten a lot more support for that had he not taken so many obvious irritatingly partisan public-opinion-be-damned positions and tactics, and then kept claiming he was doing no such thing (hmmm, no press conferences since August, and even those are staged; instead sending the flippant Gibbs with his condescension and insults).
    Let’s see now, screw the bondholders and use taxpayer money to rescue your UAW friends; then say nothing when the unions are given a pass on the health care excise tax. Unnecessarily lose the opportunity to get time-sensitive intelligence from the Xmas Day bomber, reflexively mis-characterize the guy, and then have your staff look contradictory and incompetent. Be so incoherent in dealing with Iran (the “game changer”, remember?) that the public gets more and more nervous and realizes the sanctions window has closed. Let the SF-wacko Pelosi (she was my Congresswoman) run the health care show (notwithstanding compliments above, anyone checked her polls?). Monstrously increase federal spending and the deficit. Blame Bush incessantly which by now come across as irrelevant cheap shots. Support an enormously expensive health care bill funded by accounting gimmicks, and use govt price controls to lower costs rather than genuinely bending the curve through delivery system re-engineering (so much for all that great advice from Mayo et al); all this to partially insure 30 million a third of whom don’t need/want to buy insurance. Force through a stimulus which mostly benefits retention of govt employees, with most of which not getting spent until much later than needed. Go to Copenhagen and look foolish – twice. Offer small business a few interim bones while significantly increasing their taxes. Use EPA edict to push through what you can’t get done legislatively. And my favorite, spend most of the year pushing a takeover of a sixth of the economy that is low on the public’s list of priorities and is as just about as close a personal concern as it possibly gets (i.e., one’s own health) while millions of jobs are being permanently lost – and then all of a sudden announce that the economy and jobs are top priority (where were you this last year?). The list goes on.
    One can only conclude that the president if either an intransigent ideologue and/or is incompetent. If much of the tactical and policy errors emanate from his close staff, who’s responsibility is that? Would you excuse a CEO or General who laid the blame off on his subordinates (it’s not like they are trying to sabotage him, is it?).
    And oh, all of these problems are because of those nasty have-no-power Republicans whose brand is still in the toilet? Right, it’s Limbaugh, Palin, Hannity, and Beck’s fault. This is how to account for a 20+ swing away by independents??? Yea, this is what turned the tide in blue NJ and bluer MA.
    In short, he misread his so-called mandate, and so did his sycophants in the press, because of his self-perception. Those around him *are* him. Better tactics and messaging will help, but at the core, the problem is the person and the policies which the critical segment of the electorate just fundamentally disagrees with or see as evidence of inexperience, ideological rigidity, or hubris.
    He needs an honest talk with Bill Clinton. But, oh I forget, Bill is so “yesterday” and is one of those untrustworthy “New Democrats”.

    Reply

  104. MarkL says:

    I have an analogy for that Obama retreat with Republicans: it was like a Menshevik arguing with a Bolshevik. Sure there was some heated moments, and one group is going to kill the other, but the ideology is the same; power-sharing is the issue.

    Reply

  105. Mr.Murder says:

    “Foreign policy – Obama is just Bush II. What a disappointment. And now we learn that the first black president and the first black attorney general have a policy of assassinating Americans who are “involved with terrorism.” Those southern governors and police chiefs would have loved the Obama-Holder rules of engagement back in the 60’s: Call them terrorists and kill them. Is that what Barack Obama learned at Harvard Law School?”
    Damning truth there.
    Back to topic,
    The best way to address health care now is direct universal coverage for all service members and family. Dare anyone to vote against it. It provides precedent for breaking the insurance lobby’s back.
    Disater relief, pattern the implementation of emergency unviersal coverage. Allow it to be framework for fleshing out in other forms to fast track progressive change. If they vote against disaster relief in Florida, etc. it will be to their own detriment. Gain ground and establish avenues of widening policy through other, perhsaps narrow, guidlelines from the start.

    Reply

  106. MarkL says:

    Alan K,
    People still say Obama gives good speech.
    I’ve read the texts of many of his speeches and whatever merits they possess, they are full of cliches and boilerplate; more importantly, they NEVER have enough detail. Obama is always vague, partly because he’s being a wily pol, and partly because he’s not well-versed in policy himself.
    He’s completely reliant on his advisers, as you heard him say over and over again at that love-fest with Republicans.
    He doesn’t give a straight answer with detailed explanations, because he can’t.
    Sure, he’s smart, to some degree, but you have to learn the material!!

    Reply

  107. Rick says:

    Who cares? Everybody knew, or should have known, that Obama is an empty teleprompter reader, and that Rahm Emanuel is his puppet master. Doesn’t matter what sycophants he uses to feed him teleprompter cues, he’s a psychopath narcissist and it’s glaringly obvious why so much effort is spent hiding his background, his associates, his writings, his grades, even his birth certificate (the real birth certificate). The best thing Obama can do is bring us to the point that the entire illegitimate political elites are wiped out and a new Constitutional republic emerges from the ashes.

    Reply

  108. Alan K says:

    The problem is not the team – the problem is the president.
    It is by now apparent to the most casual observer that he is unsuited for his job. If he were working in a corporation, he would be fired.
    There was a great mist that fell over the eyes of the people during 2008. Some would call it a Jedi mind trick. Many otherwise intelligent people became convinced that :
    1. Obama was a good communicator
    2. Obama was ready for the job
    3. Obama had good political skills
    None of these was true then, and only now has become demonstrably true.
    The FT article is only a beginning; first the team, then the team leader.

    Reply

  109. Rahmbo says:

    Steve, good article. I work next to Al Gore’s Current TV here in SF – ground zero for Liberalism. A year ago this area was the epicenter of the Obamagasm. Now, I rarely see or hear any references to Obama anymore. The smug euphoria is gone. It’s almost creepy; like they are embarrased it ever happened. If it’s happening here, November should be interesting.

    Reply

  110. Doug H. says:

    RE Sarah Palin
    I decided she was a poseur when I learned that she was getting $65,000/year as mayor of Wassila, Alaska. She hired a city manager to do the day to day work, and spent $50,000 redecorating her office. The mayor has no responsibility for Fire Departments or schools as they are under a regional authority. During the time Sarah Palin was mayor, Wassila had a population of 7,000. My town has a population of 13,000 and the town supervisor gets a stipend of $6,000 plus health insurance. It is a part-time job as I am sure Mayor of Wassila is a part time job.
    Jon Stewart’s Daily Show sent someone to Wassila in 2008 and the current mayor could only come up with 2 items of responsibilities: Theres a meeting one day a week and then on another day of the week, she signs checks.

    Reply

  111. nadine says:

    “The citizens ARE the country. Why would anyone want to “push through” or force any program on people who do not want it? ” (Margeret W.)
    Because they know better than us dumb rubes who disagree. Normally, the liberal elites are savvy enough to hide their contempt for the people, but they seem to have become emotionally unbalanced by extreme frustration. Their media conduits, like Jacob Weisberg of Slate and Joe Klein of Time Magazine, are bemoaning the stupidity and childishness of the people quite openly. Bad idea, if ask me. The people can vote.

    Reply

  112. DakotabornKansan says:

    Interesting commentary, Down With the People, Blame the Childish, Ignorant American Public—Not Politicians—For Our Political and Economic crisis, by Jacob Weisberg on Slate…“In trying to explain why our political paralysis seems to have gotten so much worse over the past year, analysts have rounded up a plausible collection of reasons including: President Obama’s tactical missteps, the obstinacy of congressional Republicans, rising partisanship in Washington, the blustering idiocracy of the cable-news stations, and the Senate filibuster, which has devolved into a super-majority threshold for any important legislation. These are all large factors, to be sure, but that list neglects what may be the biggest culprit in our current predicament: the childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large…The whole country is becoming more and more like California, where ignorance is bliss…The politicians thriving at the moment are the ones who embody this live-for-the-today mentality…pandering to the public’s ignorance and illusions…Increasingly, the crucial distinction is between the minority of serious politicians in either party who are prepared to speak directly about our choices, on the one hand, and the majority who indulge the public’s delusions, on the other.”
    What is so disturbing about the Core Chicago Team Sinking Obama Presidency is that, while Obama is in that first minority group, the dysfunction of his office will result in a total bust in addressing those choices if he does not take action to fix that dysfunction.

    Reply

  113. Carroll says:

    Posted by RetAFMSgt, Feb 08 2010, 1:47PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    TRUE
    CORRECT
    ABSOLUTELY
    And the main thing the public should wake up to.

    Reply

  114. Carroll says:

    Posted by RetAFMSgt, Feb 08 2010, 1:47PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    TRUE
    CORRECT
    ABSOLUTELY
    And the main thing the public should wake up to.

    Reply

  115. nadine says:

    Steve, Congrats on having this TWN post make the main page on RealClearPolitics.com. Which explains the sudden influx of new commentators.

    Reply

  116. Margaret W. says:

    I do not understand why so many contributors here talk constantly about “pushing” ObamaCare through. “Obama needs to be tougher so he can push his agenda through.” Isn’t this a country where the wishes of the majority of the citizens matter? The citizens ARE the country. Why would anyone want to “push through” or force any program on people who do not want it?

    Reply

  117. Steve says:

    Thanks for the article, Mr. Clemons.
    I can’t say I’m very surprised that the Obama team is floundering right now. Not only is running the country hard, but I never really understood why so many people (especially journalists) were so sure that Obama was going to be an effective president, let alone a transformational leader.
    To me, the problem is that Obama story was always about the campaign. It’s like one of those romantic comedies where the happy couple gets married at the end. They don’t tell you how they survive the next forty years of family stress and strain. His message was always about hope, change, and other gauzy and ultimately meaningless concepts.
    I think even Obama’s biggest supporters are having trouble figuring out what his core beliefs are. A public option for health care? No. Drug reimportation? No. Medicare negotiating on drug prices? No. Ending preventive detention? No. Stimulating the economy? Yes, a stimulus, but then no, a spending freeze. Free trade agreements? No at first, but maybe yes now. If he has strong convictions on any of these, it’s a mystery to most people as to what they are.

    Reply

  118. John Hendricks says:

    Steve and Ed Luce paint a really ugly picture of Obama’s heavy reliance on a small circle of poorly qualified advisors, who are delivering tactical political advise that crowds out any well thought out strategic thinking.
    The story of his China trip being dominated by these advisors to the virtual exclusion of people in his administration who actually know something about China and the bilateral issues is particularly discouraging, given the importance of this relationship. More recently, it seems as if they are thinking in terms of scoring points against the Chinese, like the campaign did against his primary opponents and John McCain.
    For example, any meaningful climate policy will be impossible without major commitments from both of the G2 (The IEA’s recommendation calls for the US to make about 17% and China about 33% of the total global CO2 cuts by 2030). Obama talks big on this issue, but they blew off the China trip and trotted out a policy position in Copenhagen that’s a non-starter with both the Chinese and the U.S. Senate. It’s hard to imagine that the current “team Obama” would have any stomach for seriously working through the complex and politically explosive issues involved in negotiating with China about this area.
    I agree with most of the concerns expressed about the quality of Obama’s policy-making process and team, but the idea of “team b” advisors seems unlikely to go anywhere. Bringing back his campaign manager as a key advisor might make the administration better at campaigning and perversely reduce the pressures that can motivate the needed policy-making changes. Better policy and execution will have to wait until one of his trusted inner circle, and ultimately Obama himself, recognize that something is seriously wrong, and fix the basic organization and policy-making processes in the White House.

    Reply

  119. nadine says:

    “I am college-educated, from a very good school,
    with an extremely high IQ. I have been reading
    Palin’s book, I’ve seen Palin in person, and I’ve
    assessed the information, pro and con, about
    Palin. And I’ve determined that this meme of Palin
    being a “bimbo” and a “twit” is nothing more than
    convenient propaganda the left uses to bash a
    massively popular contender who threatens the
    Democratic establishment.” (angrywoman)
    You go, girl. I have long been convinced that the the left and the mainstream media (but I repeat myself) hate and fear Sarah Palin because she would be their perfect candidate, if only she were a liberal Democrat. While I don’t (yet?) see Presidential material in her, she is obviously one smart cookie and has moved the healthcare debate more with her Facebook postings than the President has with all his speeches. Now, that’s influence that everybody in DC must envy.
    Even today, the MSM is still ragging on Palin. They are on her case today for writing six words on her hand. Obama takes a teleprompter into a grade school classroom and mispronounces “corpsman”, and they don’t mention it. Can just just imagine what they would have said, if Sarah Palin had done either of those things?
    Never in history has a candidate been as savaged as Palin (it topped even the treatment Hillary got after the media threw its lot in with The One), or as protected as Obama. Though Robert Gibbs seems determined to throw away Obama’s advantage by his snarky and dismissive treatment of the Washington press corps (or press “corpse” a la Obama). If you read Jake Tapper’s blog, you’ll see he is fed up to the gills with Gibb’s superciliousness. As a wise man one said, never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink by the barrel.

    Reply

  120. Laura says:

    Very interesting piece.Of particular interest is the reference to Nixon’s inner circle.Possibly that would explain the enemies list although, as I recall,even Nixon had the taste to wait until his second term to compile his

    Reply

  121. Outraged American says:

    Dean in a debate w/ Perle a few years ago said Iraq was the low
    hanging fruit & Iran was our goal.
    And Gergen — talk about a chameleon.
    You all need to step out of the Beltway/ DC Aviv and get the hell
    away from the UniParty, although it already has destroyed us.

    Reply

  122. susan says:

    Elizabeth Warren would be an excellent addition to an inside circle.
    This is posted at Raw Story:
    “Obama crushes Palin in hypothetical matchup: Developing…”

    Reply

  123. BOtheJoker says:

    This was an interesting but scarey description of of a sick administration. The symptoms are generally well described but the genesis, the underlying cause, has been overlooked. That would be the nihilism of Obama and those he surrounds himself with; the contempt for everything traditional and “apple pie” American; and a loathing for American exceptionalism. Add to that a disingenuousness about who they are and what they stand for with a cavalier attitude toward telling the truth. Add it up and you have a disease state.

    Reply

  124. Tom Slick says:

    Obama is a one-term President.
    You guys are merely discussing the re-arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

    Reply

  125. Kristen P says:

    I think we all would do well to take ww11’s brief remarks and file
    them away in our memory banks to take out again when the
    @$%^$ hits the fan, as inevitably it will. Unfortunately, he/she
    truthfully relays the sad state of Chicago and Illinois politics:
    “If he could get rid of even one of his gang he would, if it would
    help him politically, (and it would), but for some reason (and it’s
    not touchy-feely trust stuff), he can’t. My guess is that there is
    something they all know that can’t come out. He’s stuck with
    them all because if he incurs the wrath of any one of them, he
    risks that info getting out.”
    This is not conspiracy talking… just simply the truth about how
    you get elected to public office in Illinois, starting at the lowliest
    level. I don’t think it’s any one item…. I think it’s just the nature
    of the political game: vicious and cut-throat to the core.
    You can bet that when and if we see any of these people “let go,”
    all of a sudden we’ll start hearing about Obama’s missing
    college days, his missing thesis and law papers, his law cases,
    his early close friends, etc.
    Govenor Patterson is experiencing a bit of the Chicago Way right
    now….

    Reply

  126. Mr.Murder says:

    Late to the story here, but agreed on premise.
    The overhaul would be to get Clinton directing some items, and perhas even courting the likes Colin Powell for a staff position.
    He needs a way of limiting rightward traction by insulating from it in one position(abroad). His failure to get anything truly progressive done for domestic legislation is what will bring him down. It’s a careful dance to step through…

    Reply

  127. Taylor says:

    “the point is to suggest names…”
    Okay a very serious suggestion, but first fire Larry Summers’
    incompetent ass:
    Simon Johnson.
    Heck, put Tyler Durden in there. I’d pay money to see that.

    Reply

  128. Taylor says:

    “the point is to suggest names you think would provide
    constructive input to a White House that needs to retool and
    repoint itself.”
    Um, Joseph Stiglitz?
    Paul Krugman?
    Ok so they have Nobel prizes, but they did call things right when
    they said the stimulus was too small to get the job done.
    And anyone who said that the Obama stimulus would get 80
    votes in the Senate should be fired immediately. That level of
    political stupidity is dangerous.
    ps POA, you are so right about captcha…..

    Reply

  129. DonS says:

    Someone upthread mentioned Howard Dean. The visceral reaction against him, effectively ostracizing him, by the insiders, should put him in the pool of those to be considered for implementing a new approach. He has gotten a lot right, including organizing from the ground up. And a strong commitment to health care legislation. Of course Dean was the guy who got in trouble in the primary debates in the ’04 cycle, I believe, for calling for an ‘even handed’ approach to the mideast, which means there are powerful interests potentially arrayed against his getting an inside track.

    Reply

  130. addLibs says:

    Pardon the many typos, it’s my keyboard, honest!

    Reply

  131. AddLibs says:

    There was a segment of society that was open to Obama’s health care policies if presented in a clear, tangeable, honest and presuasive way. The right combination of words and actions would have gotten the mojority of the people on board with Obamacare. Unfortunately, neither Obama nor his gang have the slightes clue as to how you connect with people ourside of downtown Chicago. Obama has made one serious blunder after the other, causing him to ditch what he had campaigned on to salvage the issue.
    Case and point, Obama couldn’t hold the debate on health care on c-span because the antics of congress, made possible by his own lack of involvement, left him without a leg to stand on. Broadcasting the debate would have been humiliating for him. Obama gets shoved around because he is a jellyfish and has no guile. I hate to say it, but HRC would have done a better job pushing through the Democratic agenda.

    Reply

  132. Outraged American says:

    Steve, I’ll offer two suggestions: Ralph Nader and Ron Paul, and I’ll
    throw in Bob Barr for his opposition to the “Patriot” Farce for good
    measure.
    It’s all about ballot access, people. The sooner you learn about it
    the sooner we’ll have real change. Change we can believe in
    *SNORT*
    I apologize for my last post — it should have been McCains not
    McCain’s. I apologize, but I did after all grow-up in Arizona where
    every child was left behind way before Cheney made it a national
    mandate and McCain made Arizona his personal fiefdom.

    Reply

  133. Jacob says:

    Obama seems to be smart enough to understand that you ought to stick with those who brought you to the ball. Now he can see very clearly that the left are no friends of his. They will sacrifice Obama at any moment for the sake of their agenda.
    And Obama knows this very well. Because Rahm, David and Valierie are telling him so. What is he to do? Get rid of his own people, whose interests are Obama’s interests, and rely on the mercy of strangers? The extreme American left is every bit as ruthless as the extreme right.
    If they achieve their tactical goal: separate Obama from his friends, then he is going to be standing there naked before his enemies. And that’s what they want.

    Reply

  134. Franklin says:

    Jonathan Huddleston,
    1. The Medicare Part D measure — at least the one that passed — was more of a priority of an industry lobby than any liberal constituency.
    It was the liberals in Congress who were fighting tooth an nail to provide a benefit at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. The so-called party of fiscal conservatism saw a big-payoff for passing the measure with the fewest cost-controls (as did some dem). The only ideology at play was the ideology of power and Green.
    2. No Child Left Behind was tokenism — an unfunded mandate.
    Bush strategist Matthew Dowd also pretty much rejects the notion that W. was seeking consensus in the beginning — their calculation post election was to move right.

    Reply

  135. DonS says:

    Angrywoman, are you merely a disappointed Hillary fan, or do you truly believe that Palin is the accomplished individual you report, and not the ‘ignorant’, ‘bimbo’, ‘redneck’,’twit’ that you find offensive descriptions . . . although. . . it is interesting to note a similar hatchet job by Kathleen Parker who, last I looked, is quite conservative and, uh, a woman:
    “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself” Whoa.
    http://article.nationalreview.com/372474/palin-problem/kathleen-parker
    Or Peggy Noonan for that matter, also of the female persuasion, who all but called Palin a bimbo. Didn’t find her”serious”.
    http://thinkprogress.org/2008/10/06/noonan-palin/
    These critics would not be progressives aiming to shoot themselves in the foot with the female electorate.
    Even David Brooks, who originally wished Palin would read more books, as late as last November was calling her a “joke”. Now David might be a bimbo in his own right, but he’s certainly no progressive.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/15/david-brooks-palins-a-jok_n_358315.html
    But I digress. Colorful language, and POA’s penchant for it aside, sometimes fits. Sorry if that offends you. What offends me, and would offend me more if I believed that Palin had an ounce of sincerity in her schtick, is her taking the American public for a ride simply, demonstrably, to turn her 15 minutes of McCain-bestowed fame into a well endowed retirement plan. At least I hope that is her highest goal.
    Now what was the topic here? Oh yeah, trying to dig this administration out of the hole it keeps digging deeper.

    Reply

  136. MarkL says:

    Lcole,
    The problem with your analysis is that Obama stands for nothing and has made a pitch for nothing except passing bills with his name attached.
    I agree with you that probably most people aren’t ready for what they perceive to be the Democrats’ intent, but the perceptions aren’t accurate, because Obama would do ANYTHING to get a bill passed. He’s no leftist; he’s barely even centrist.
    People who get news from FOX and Rush think they know what Obama stands for; I can assure you he stands for nothing at all.
    Interesting comment, Mr. Huddleston.
    By Texas standards, Bush may have been bipartisan, but his ideas about taxation are for the far right and the very, very rich.

    Reply

  137. MarkL says:

    Lcole,
    The problem with your analysis is that Obama stands for nothing and has made a pitch for nothing except passing bills with his name attached.
    I agree with you that probably most people aren’t ready for what they perceive to be the Democrats’ intent, but the perceptions aren’t accurate, because Obama would do ANYTHING to get a bill passed. He’s no leftist; he’s barely even centrist.
    People who get news from FOX and Rush think they know what Obama stands for; I can assure you he stands for nothing at all.
    Interesting comment, Mr. Huddleston.
    By Texas standards, Bush may have been bipartisan, but his ideas about taxation are for the far right and the very, very rich.

    Reply

  138. yup says:

    obama, dont you dare change any of these 4, or
    Holder, or any of your wacked out czars. you’re
    going to get nailed based on those you associate
    yourself with, as you said. once we erased the
    memory of your prior friends, as you said.
    truth to power, bait and switch, so called
    constitutional scholar blah blah, but middle America
    aint so dumb. neither were your conservative
    parents.
    obama is toast. understand that. he has been
    recognized as untruthful, nothing to do with his
    failure to show creds, and his daily characterizations
    and generalizations of things he is either wrong or
    sweet talking about are a source of increasing
    anger. he has willfully fooled people.
    it’s over, sorry. should have spent an hour critically
    assessing the man before the cause, or before
    getting giddy at the party.

    Reply

  139. RetAFMSgt says:

    This was interesting reading. I’ll speak as someone that spent 20 years in uniform, I served as my brothers and sisters in uniform served, for the good of the nation, for service to the country. I don’t see anyone, be it Republican, Democrat, or Independent in the Senate, or the House, or the White House, for that matter, that’s there for the good of the nation or for service to the country. They are there to do one thing and one thing only, hang on to office for as long as they can. They will do ANYTHING they need to, to achieve that end. That IS the reason that the status quo stays firmly entrenched. Then regardless of who is in power, you point to the other side as the reason why you can’t get anything done. Then you sit back and smile in hopes that your objective, to stay in office, is still intact. I was willing to die for my country while I wore the uniform, I’m willing to die for my country today, if my dying were to help keep all those things going which makes the USA the best place to live in the world. For these elected officials in Washington, the equivalent of dying would be, would they be willing to cast a vote or support something that in their heart they knew to be for the greater good of the country but would cost them their office? I think almost to a man and woman they would not cast that vote. That my fellow citizens is exactly what is wrong with our Federal Government. They are so busy trying to keep their job, they are not DOING their job, to paraphrase a line from “The American President”. Which brings me to my point, until we have term limits for Senators and Congressmen, nothing will change. We will continue to get what we have today, at the Federal level, completely ineffectual government that has resulted in making things worse, rather than better on so many levels. Well boys and girls we are hurtling at warp speed to a day of reckoning, where fancy speeches, and continued payoffs, will not save any of these “elected individuals” from the certain doom of this thing we call the United States of America completely collapsing under the weight of ineffectual government. It will be the Fall of Rome all over again. I’d much prefer to paint a rosier picture for the sake of my children, but alas I just don’t see it, until things change in a very significant way.

    Reply

  140. Green says:

    I think we can all agree that the “honeymoon is over”. It tends to happen to most Presidents and it happened to Obama. “Why” is for historians. Your point is that his staff played a large role in the disastrous first year. I doubt it. The fault appears to be on Obama, and him alone. He truly believes that if can just talk to us, that we will just love his version of health care. That’s his strategy. He is going to convince us that he is the messiah, and he knows best. That is the strength of Obama. The ability to keep telling the people what they need to hear. He is not giving up and he will win. That’s all you need to know.

    Reply

  141. lcole says:

    Most of the comments here well written and thoughtful but miss the point. The general public does not want the policies that most of you sincerely believe in. I’m sure you think they would make a better country, but you have missed a critical ingredient in your analysis. The majority of the American public doesn’t agree with nor desire these policies.
    There really are two Americas. The problem with your side is that you have no respect for the philosophy of the other side. You’ve dissected every possible reason for the rejection of Obama’s policies from lack of understanding, selfishness, Rovian tactics, Stupidity, etc., never considering that the other side gets it but doesn’t wasn’t it. We saw an amazing remarkable and successful sales pitch by the Chicago 5. It was fun and exciting but not grown up.

    Reply

  142. RetAFMSgt says:

    This was interesting reading. I’ll speak as someone that spent 20 years in uniform, I served as my brothers and sisters in uniform served, for the good of the nation, for service to the country. I don’t see anyone, be it Republican, Democrat, or Independent in the Senate, or the House, or the White House, for that matter, that’s there for the good of the nation or for service to the country. They are there to do one thing and one thing only, hang on to office for as long as they can. They will do ANYTHING they need to, to achieve that end. That IS the reason that the status quo stays firmly entrenched. Then regardless of who is in power, you point to the other side as the reason why you can’t get anything done. Then you sit back and smile in hopes that your objective, to stay in office, is still intact. I was willing to die for my country while I wore the uniform, I’m willing to die for my country today, if my dying were to help keep all those things going which makes the USA the best place to live in the world. For these elected officials in Washington, the equivalent of dying would be, would they be willing to cast a vote or support something that in their heart they knew to be for the greater good of the country but would cost them their office? I think almost to a man and woman they would not cast that vote. That my fellow citizens is exactly what is wrong with our Federal Government. They are so busy trying to keep their job, they are not DOING their job, to paraphrase a line from “The American President”. Which brings me to my point, until we have term limits for Senators and Congressmen, nothing will change. We will continue to get what we have today, at the Federal level, completely ineffectual government that has resulted in making things worse, rather than better on so many levels. Well boys and girls we are hurtling at warp speed to a day of reckoning, where fancy speeches, and continued payoffs, will not save any of these “elected individuals” from the certain doom of this thing we call the United States of America completely collapses under the weight of ineffectual government. It will be the Fall of Rome all over again. I’d much prefer to paint a rosier picture for the sake of my children, but alas I just don’t see it, until things change in a very significant way.

    Reply

  143. Rod Random says:

    I wonder why all the self-proclaimed insiders are
    congratulating themselves on your insights. Apart
    from your attention to the non-Emanuel members of
    the Chicago gang, you are offering nothing really
    new, and you still don’t have it quite right.
    We on what your kind call the Shrill, un-Serious
    left have always understood that Obama is “lite.”
    Early in the campaign, I compared his “empty
    image-mongering” to that of Warren G. Harding–
    who also, incidentally, presided in a time of
    conservative redefinition in which the word
    “progressive” was up for grabs. (Such was the
    confusion that Harding, with no sense of
    contradiction, boasted of holding–and did hold–a
    printers’ union card.)
    The one nationally visible Democrat–certainly no
    socialist–who has understood how to hew out a new
    party line that works politically is Howard Dean.
    The first act of Rahm and his percussores upon
    taking power was to punish Dean for his electoral
    successes.
    This was political stupidity at its most bestial.
    We, the un-Serious ones, the Outsiders–who, as
    history continues to demonstrate, have for more
    than fifty years been all too right in our
    criticisms of power–voted for Obama not because
    we believed the patronizing drivel about Barney
    Smith, but because we hoped he would have enough
    sense to stay in power (and stave off
    dictatorship) for two terms. This might have
    given us time to organize a progressive movement.
    It appears that he is failing even in that.
    The bad thing is not that the White House is being
    run like a presidential campaign, but that it is
    being run like a losing presidential campaign.
    This matters because, notwithstanding the smug,
    self-Serious Insider “community,” twelve more
    years of Bush Jr. (starting with the loss of
    Congress this year) will constitute a blow from
    which what is left of democracy in this country
    can never recover.
    Like the Roman Senate, the “insider community”
    will go on dining well, Republic or no. Standards
    will loosen. You can live with that.
    The rest of us have something to worry about.

    Reply

  144. Jonathan Huddleston says:

    It is interesting how the assumptions of where someone is standing do really change what looks “bipartisan.” I’m from Texas, and I can tell you that Bush was extremely bipartisan, and not extreme at all, for much of the conservative South. He was genuinely surprised that his concessions to liberalism (not just on education, but on prescription drugs and other issues) were taken for granted by Democrats, who wanted him to move even more to the left. Similarly, Obama is genuinely bemused by those of us who think that because he is only a Chicago liberal academician rather than (say) a European neo-Marxist, his ideas represent the American middle. Health care “reform” is predicated on the premise that the way to solve a crisis in the government’s ability to meet its obligations is to increase the government’s obligations; nobody with an ounce of conservatism could be anything but “obstructionist” on this topic. It’s not that Obama has been ineffective (yes, if Ted Kennedy hadn’t died he might have foisted on the nation a bill that 60% of us disapprove of); it’s that the more conservative 40-60% of the nation was never behind much of his agenda, just as the more liberal 40-60% of the nation was never behind much of what Bush did. I’m incredibly honored to have a bright, historic (African-American), and articulate leader, and I certainly want America to succeed, but I don’t want Obama to succeed in much of what he does–any more than any of you wanted Bush to succeed in much of what he did. Obama in increasingly demonstrating that that he is just as incapable as Bush was of understanding that some people don’t think he is right–and many who post on here are similarly incapable of true bipartisanship.

    Reply

  145. resident in corrupt illinois says:

    Your analysis was in-depth and I found it very interesting. The words I find that describe Obama as “dithering” and “petty” ring true. For those who knew Obama in Chicago, then to watch him campaign as a centerist using all the political speak, then once in the white house. Well, it isn’t the people who surround him that are wrong. He is with his element and that element wants to fundamentally change America. His words. President Obama still doesn’t get it and I don’t think he listens to the people. Now he wants to have another video op for himself with republicans on health care. People want him to focus on jobs, helping small businesses and put health care reform on the back burner. Will he focus and really do something for the job situation or not? My money would be on “not”.

    Reply

  146. bob h says:

    I’m not sure I subscribe to much of this. Had the Republicans not quickly abdicated their responsibilities as participants in our two-party system, and gone into all-out nihilistic, obstructionist mode, enabled by anachronistic, anti-democratic rules of the Senate, there probably would be talk of expanding the sculptures on Mt. Rushmore.
    I believe that the Obama team’s record of legislative accomplishments is unprecedented for a first year. And there is no denying the transformation of our relationships with the rest of the world.
    Obama inherited a capitalist system that is deeply corrupt and degenerate in its finance and healthcare sectors, and a Congress (Senate) that is even worse.
    It is not the Obama team that is broken; it is Washington itself.

    Reply

  147. me says:

    hey you dummies, didnt you hear obama said get off
    the blogs?
    Gibbs will tell us the truth instead.

    Reply

  148. Jake Elwood says:

    Steve is on the right track in diagnosing a problem, but he and many people here apparently still fail to understand that Obama cannot get rid of his four “advisors”. That is because he is nothing without them. He would not be president without them. They created him. He is their product. They are his circulatory system and brain in the same way people used to call Karl Rove Bush’s brain. I say this not as any sort of partisan. I say this as someone from Chicago who remembers Obama in Chicago and in the state legislature. There truly is not as much “there” there with him as people want to believe.

    Reply

  149. ... says:

    angrywomen – if you think the left hate women, check out the constant drivel from the right and clearly it is a race to the bottom with the right way ahead to date…

    Reply

  150. angrywoman says:

    PissedOffAmerican wrote: “Sometimes it feels like
    the Twilight Zone. Did you ever think you’d see
    some ignorant redneck twit like Sarah Palin have a
    chance at the Oval Office???? God help us.”
    It’s sexist, misogynist comments such as yours
    that have turned me off of the Democrats and the
    progressive “agenda” forever.
    No, I’m not going to go become a Republican
    instead. But I learned in the 2008 election that a
    large number of liberals are, in fact, extreme
    woman-haters. First it was the Hillary-bashing,
    then Palin. I am still stunned that young women
    thought it was cool to wear a t-shirt that called
    Sarah Palin the “C” word.
    I am college-educated, from a very good school,
    with an extremely high IQ. I have been reading
    Palin’s book, I’ve seen Palin in person, and I’ve
    assessed the information, pro and con, about
    Palin. And I’ve determined that this meme of Palin
    being a “bimbo” and a “twit” is nothing more than
    convenient propaganda the left uses to bash a
    massively popular contender who threatens the
    Democratic establishment.
    Palin is accomplished. She worked her way up from
    nothing. The left does not give her any respect
    for that, and it sickens me.
    Beyond that, she speaks truths that the left would
    do well to listen to. For example, her comments
    that Obama needs to “lead” and not “lecture” are
    spot on.
    Now. I really don’t know if Palin could fix the
    problems we’re in, but I doubt any one person
    could at this point. The more I see sexist jerks
    like you bashing her, the more I’m determined to
    pull out the stops for this woman should she run
    in 2012. She certainly couldn’t do worse than
    Obama at this point, who is starting to make GW
    Bush look like a political genius (and I hated
    Bush).
    So keep up the sexism against Palin. Deep in the
    confines of the ballot booth, smart women such as
    myself are going to pull the lever for Palin to
    give you guys a big huge middle finger. And I’ll
    be doing my damndest to convince other women that
    we need to stop letting the sexists win.
    Had it not been for the left’s misogyny, we’d have
    Hillary right now and we wouldn’t be in such a
    freakin’ mess.

    Reply

  151. susan says:

    digbysblog.blogspot.com
    It’s Getting Hot In Here
    by digby
    I guess the long knives are out. Here’s the first of what I assume will be more to come:
    At a crucial stage in the Democratic primaries in late 2007, Barack Obama rejuvenated his campaign with a barnstorming speech, in which he ended on a promise of what his victory would produce: “A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again.”
    Just over a year into his tenure, America’s 44th president governs a bitterly divided nation, a world increasingly hard to manage and an America that seems more disillusioned than ever with Washington’s ways. What went wrong?
    Pundits, Democratic lawmakers and opinion pollsters offer a smorgasbord of reasons – from Mr Obama’s decision to devote his first year in office to healthcare reform, to the president’s inability to convince voters he can “feel their [economic] pain”, to the apparent ungovernability of today’s Washington. All may indeed have contributed to the quandary in which Mr Obama finds himself. But those around him have a more specific diagnosis – and one that is striking in its uniformity. The Obama White House is geared for campaigning rather than governing, they say.
    Ok, before we go any further, I have to interrupt and point out that there is a missing explanation here: perhaps the problem is that everyone, apparently including the Obama team and this reporter, insisted on actually believing that the election signaled a fundamental shift in the political landscape so huge that the earth was knocked off its axis and everything was different. In other words, far too many people believed the hype, which I understand was very, very seductive, but it was foolish, nonetheless.
    The problems were always huge, the system was always broken, the Republicans were always nuts. For some reason it was convenient to ignore all that pretend that we had had a rebirth all shiny and new and that if the worst happened, Obama could always just make a speech and everything would fall into place. Nobody’s as good a politician as he was assumed to be — and that assumption came from a presidential campaign that could have probably been won by anyone with a D after his name, which makes it even more facile. It was hubris, and we all know where that leads.
    The piece goes on to reveal that Obama is being badly served by his closest advisors, Rahm Emmanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett and Robert Gibbs, who apparently dominate decision making in the White house and in the view of whoever is is talking, insulate the president from more diverse thinking and give him bad advice. The thesis is that they are political hacks who are preventing the president from making sound policy decisions. If the anecdotes are true, that may be the case, especially in a time when good politics depends so heavily on good policy.
    It’s fascinating, of course, because it’s gossip and because some in the White House and others close to the administration have decided to try to dethrone these four. The courtiers are rebelling. That’s usually not a good sign. It will be interesting to see if Obama reacts.
    I would just point out two things. First, this is exactly the set-up which everyone admired so much about the first term Reagan White House. He was surrounded by three close aides, Deaver, Meese and Baker, who insulated his beautiful mind from outside influence. It’s surprising how much the Obama administration modeled itself on Reagan. And it’s vaguely disturbing, as well, since the political landscape is radically different even if the economy is equally stressed. Plus, Reagan was an elderly, white Republican, which alone makes it a different political universe.
    The second point is that these stories always act as if the president is a simple child who has no agency in all this. The fact is that if there’s one job he has above all others as chief executive, it’s choosing the very best people to run the administration. If he’s surrounding himself with political aides whose jobs it is to protect the Obama brand or whatever, it’s his decision to do so.
    What this really signals is that the Obama bubble has conclusively popped and people are now dealing with political realities. Believing that he was some kind of wizard whose very person was imbued with the power to change reality with a few well chosen words wasted a lot of time. But if its over, I’m very glad of it. Now maybe they can start looking at problems realistically and understand just how hard they have to fight to solve them.
    And Rahm, by the way, is way more trouble than he’s worth. Even Nixon’s advisors were more subtle — and far more lethal. You don’t keep a nasty henchman who makes enemies of everyone and inspires loathing by his very presence if he can’t even get the job done.
    Steve Clemons has more…

    Reply

  152. WenG says:

    @Richard: “Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Hillary would have made a far better POTUS than Obama.”
    We ARE experiencing the Hillary presidency, by proxy. The same Clinton cronies that stunk up the palace in the 90s are back and in charge, and this is what goes to the heart of Obama’s Bipartisan Surprise. He’s been co-opted by the opponent’s he ostensibly defeated. He might call it something else, but both inside and outside, he stands for nothing.

    Reply

  153. Tater Salad says:

    We have “only” ourselves to blame for this mess:
    This quote came from the Czech Republic. Someone has it all figured out. It’s sad that most of the people of the US don’t.
    “The danger to America is not Barack Obama but a citizenry capable of entrusting a man like him with the presidency. It will be easier to limit and undo the follies of an Obama presidency than to restore the necessary common sense and good judgment to a depraved electorate willing to have such a man for their president.
    The problem is much deeper and far more serious than Mr. Obama, who is a mere symptom of what ails us. Blaming the prince of the fools should not blind anyone to the vast confederacy of fools that made him their prince.
    The republic can survive a Barack Obama, who is, after all, merely a fool. It is less likely to survive a multitude of fools such as those who made him their president.”
    (copied)

    Reply

  154. Steve Clemons says:

    JB — the point is not that the White House would accept a panel of Team B critics that included Arianna, though in my view it should, because she is an incredibly astute observer of this administration and its strengths and weaknesses. The point is for you and others to consider who should be on on such a panel if one were assembled. I offered a diverse set of names, including hers — she really gets some of these issues on the failings of the Obama team. But there are some who think I offered mostly insiders and few outsiders… I think this is true. It’s a good exercise for others to offer better possibilities. This is being read by many in the administration. Some love the Arianna proposal and others don’t — but the point is to suggest names you think would provide constructive input to a White House that needs to retool and repoint itself. All best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  155. JB says:

    You had me until “Ariana Huffington.”

    Reply

  156. Jacob says:

    The hangover was inevitable. The so-called “progressives” cannot run the country – organically so. What they are trying to do is UNamerican. Not Anti-American, and not Pro-American, but simply unamerican. This is, after all, still a country where everyone dreams of getting rich. Not of living on government stipends, but of living as wealthy people. It does not matter that only a few achieve the DREAM: elsewhere this is altogether impossible.
    The immigrants have come to Ameica not because it has such great healthcare insurance system, but because they want a piece of action. And what the “progressives” are trying to do is, no more and no less, is to kill the “American Dream”. Forever.
    This is the source of all tension in America today, and the arena in which the “Tea Parties” are springing.

    Reply

  157. Jacob says:

    The hangover was inevitable. The so-called “progressives” cannot run the country – organically so. What they are trying to do is UNamerican. Not Anti-American, and not Pro-American, but simply unamerican. This is, after all, still a country where everyone dreams of getting rich. Not of living on government stipends, but of living as wealthy people. It does not matter that only a few achieve the DREAM: elsewhere this is altogether impossible.
    The immigrants have come to Ameica not because it has such great healthcare insurance system, but because they want a piece of action. And what the “progressives” are trying to do is, no more and no less, is to kill the “American Dream”. Forever.
    This is the source of all tension in America today, and the arena in which the “Tea Parties” are springing.

    Reply

  158. Chris Rasmussen says:

    Oh, for God’s sake:
    Steve, isn’t precisely the same story written six months to a year into EVERY PRESIDENCY?
    a) WH takes office and puts the campaign team in key offices,
    b) “Insiders” complain about the campaign team’s lack of DC experience (the Beltway complained about the Arkansas folks in 1993),
    c) The only way to solve this, according to “insiders”, is to give more of a voice to the people leaking to the reporter.
    More precisely, isn’t it about time that the Clinton folks admit they LOST and leaking stories disparaging those who beat them isn’t going to change that? And ps: as someone alive during 93-94, I can attest the Obama Administration was much better run than Clinton’s. No leak of the day, no “jesus, what’s going to happen with X nominee” three week cycles, no Travelgate/Whitewater (the WH’s response to those nonstories in 93-94 were awful).

    Reply

  159. Herb says:

    Perhaps this team didn’t even run a brilliant campaign. The climate of the last election was so hostile to Republicans that any Deomocratic nominee would have won. Although many thought that Hillary would walk to the nomination, she is a polarizing figure, and she has none of the charm and political instincts of her husband. I suspect that the Obama team was overrated.

    Reply

  160. Mike Tanis says:

    As a conservative critic of Mr. Obama I read this article and especially the comments with great delight. I’m not sure why the American electorate went on a tequila drunk in 2008 and elected the empty-suit Obama, but it’s obvious they are in the throes of a nasty hangover right now. Their mortification will ensure the “suit” is a one-hit wonder. How’s that -hopey- -changey- thing working out for you?
    -Mike

    Reply

  161. BabaLou says:

    Steve, you were joking about Arianna Huffington, right?

    Reply

  162. Laura Brown says:

    I’ve been saying this for months. I’ve written a letter to the President and David Axelrod. These campaign operatives from Chicago are sinking him. He’ll be forced to get rid of them after the mid-terms, because it’s going to be a bloodbath. For the life of me, I simply cannot understand as a 100% Obama supporter, why he does not “move the deck chairs”. Axelrod should be camped out in Illinois for the next 10 months, because that state is a powder keg waiting to explode for him politically. Keep Emanuel through the mid-terms and then let him go. Jarrett should be mothballed into something strictly ceremonial, and Axelrod is a campaign strategist for 2012. Call in experienced, inside the beltway operators for help. I’ll try writing the President again.

    Reply

  163. Richard says:

    Obama’s problem is that he believes all the American people are as dumb as the progressives that blindly support him. This man has done more to destroy the progressive movement than any in recent history.
    Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that Hillary would have made a far better POTUS than Obama.
    Also, I’m sick of hearing the “ran a brilliant campaign” BS. Obama received a pass from the media while Hillary was ruthlessly attacked by the same.
    I suppose progressives are too prideful to admit Obama has been one huge mistake. Obama is about the advancement of Obama not any particular ideology. Actions speak LOUDER than words and the sooner progressives realize they’ve been played for fools the better. Believe it or not but Obama will be a one termer who did irrepressible damage to the progressive movement for years to come. Hillary tried to warn you all this guy was a rank amateur but you sold her out. Dick Cheney couldn’t have done the damage Obama has to progressive movement in his wildest dreams.

    Reply

  164. Outraged American says:

    McCain, Shirley you jest? Old joke but still a goodie. McCain is
    an egomaniacal, backstabbing (to POWs) opportunist (again,
    using his POW experience, during which he sang like a bird to
    the Viet Cong, to further his political career while he and Kerry
    crushed the hopes of hundreds of real POW/ MIA families)
    Zionist.
    Corrupt? I live now and grew-up in the great state of Arizona,
    which makes Chicago look like a pre-school play group. McCain
    got into Congress using a fake address (well, Cindy did buy him
    the house), he is intimately involved in the slime that goes on in
    this state, and he is a fanatic pro-Israel supporter in the vein of
    his father Jack McCain, who helped cover-up Israel’s attack on
    the USS Liberty.
    Character? McCain has none. Not one tiny bit.
    We would be well immersed in WW III if McCain had won. As it
    is, the election of Obama only stalled it for a few years.
    But Mr. Eisenstein, McCain’s old mansion, one of his 13 houses,
    or was it 15 or 20? is on the market yet again. It seems to go on
    the market every year or so since the McCain’s moved out. If
    you’re such a fan, buy it and give the McCain’s a cash infusion.
    They do sorely need more money. *SHAKES HEAD*
    BTW: JD Hayworth, who is even more of a corrupt git than
    McCain is challenging him for his Senate seat. Hayworth was
    offed out of his House seat because of Abramoff, or maybe
    because he’s a pompous, corrupt, wanna-be Limbaugh, former
    sports news guy. Kind of like Palin except with a bigger dick.

    Reply

  165. Fred Wiesen says:

    The comments posted herein reek of arrogance and a condescending attitude. Obama is a far-out leftist. He’s trying to do precisely what he believes, what he came into office to do, that is, to take control of every aspect of America and do for us “dummies” what he thinks we need. We don’t agree. We think we know what we need and will fight to the last breath to prevent someone taking over our lives. He, like so many other elitists, think they know better how to spend our money than we do, but arrogance produces stupidity, and that’s what we are seeing in abundance. If he and his cronies succeed in cramming their agenda through, it will be decades before Democrats control government again.

    Reply

  166. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Wow. If I was Steve, I’d be careful opening any packages.
    He might wanna invest in a respirator. Rotting fish can get pretty rank.

    Reply

  167. Chris says:

    Please, Dear God, Mr. President… keep doing EXACTLY what you are doing, with EXACTLY the same people. That way, we can get rid of your sorry ass in three years.
    If any of these people showed up at my door, I would tell them to get their pathetic liberal freak existence the hell of my property.
    These people are discpicable, and not much else. They certainly are not talented, and they can’t govern to save their lives.
    Somebody save us from this disastrous Presidency.
    You suck Obama.

    Reply

  168. Maurice Eisenstein says:

    The central point that seems to be forgotten is that we in Chicago understand that this is what Obama was elected for: to play with power. The rest of the “progressive” agenda was just a means. This is Chicago politics at its best. We run, we gain power, and we play at exercising it. Why are you all surprised? All your suggestions, would be fine if any of that was the goal. It is not and never has been. It is about being cool and being the most powerful.
    The substance most of you are looking for was with John McCain in that particular election. It was never a secret. It was a choice we all made.

    Reply

  169. Keith Kahl says:

    Dear Sir:
    Your comments are precisely on target regarding the dysfunctionality of the White House Staff. The President’s closest and most influential advisers are not making any sense at all to most of us. They are completly comfortable with failing, and utterly convinced that they can spin their way out of it. A moron from Alaska is eating their gourmet lunch and they cannot see it or respond to it. Please turn up the volume on this theme. It is so important, and so late.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely, Keith Kahl, Hilton Head Island

    Reply

  170. John Waring says:

    I am as far from the Beltway Bubble as a person can get. To me Steve’s comments have the ring of authenticity. The situation the administration finds itself in is self-inflicted. The American people gave Obama and his team enormous political power, and they squandered it, egregiously squandered it.
    Case in point, if Valerie Jarrett stiffed the Arab American Institute, at the very time when Obama was attempting to change Arab perceptions of America, then she is too tone deaf to be a presidential advisor.
    The president has to change direction, NOW.

    Reply

  171. Jacob says:

    The whole point of this exercise is to find a way of convincing Obama to jettison Emmanuel, who is considered to be, by the American left, an agent of Zionism in the heart of White House. “Bring in Brzezinski, bring in Baker” – this the constant refrain of the Washingtonian “freedom fighters”, members of the American Liberation Organization.
    But without Emmanuel, the SOB he is, Obama is nothing, and Obama’s presidency will be destined for a horrible crash.

    Reply

  172. Jacob says:

    The whole point of this exercise is to find a way of convincing Obama to jettison Emmanuel, who is considered to be, by the American left, an agent of Zionism in the heart of White House. “Bring in Brzezinski, bring in Baker” – this the constant refrain of the Washingtonian “freedom fighters”, members of the American Liberation Organization.
    But without Emmanuel, the SOB he is, Obama is nothing, and Obama’s presidency will be destined for a horrible crash.

    Reply

  173. K. Santel says:

    Mark L. is so right about Obama’s performance in the Republicans’ “lions den.” For one thing, what was he doing at an event where the Republicans had their little children sitting on their laps? It was strange when the camera went over to Paul Ryan with his kids on his lap and Ryan is saying that his (Ryan’s) budget plan for Medicare contributions from the government would remain constant for people under 55, as though that was a “no big deal” because of the under 55 qualifier, like those under 55 are going to have some magical ability to pay higher premiums that millionaires over 65 today don’t have. Why be in a setting where you cannot go for the jugular when they’re going to say stuff like that?
    Obama should have faced down Ryan and forced Ryan to say what kind of premiums a person now aged 50 is going to pay for Medicare when that person is 65. Obama should have been prepared with a number and the stats to back it up. Instead he’s conciliatory and has mush to say about what a nice family Ryan has. When Bush tried to privatize Social Security, he also had that “those under 55” business. I went to a town meeting with my local Republican Congressman and it was packed with under 55s. I remember one man telling the Congressman, “We’re going to be down there in Washington pulling you guys out in the street” if they try to cut Social Security.
    Why, oh why, oh why do the Democrats not take these opportunities to get EVERYONE under 55 on their side? Its being handed to them on a platter. When they don’t take it, the under 55s get the message that the Democrats plan to do the same thing as the Republicans want to do. And I don’t want to hear about that being the “responsible” thing to do because the same people who got us into these 2 wars, BOTH of them, Afghanistan and Iraq, were being irresponsible beyond words and they knew it at the time.

    Reply

  174. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “tatertot”………
    Gads, I wish the tatertots in Central California thought like you do. Most of the spuds in this neck of the woods think he’s an undercover non-citizen Muslim masquerading as a socialist marxist communist uncle tom jigaboo.
    ‘Course, thats liable to change if Hannity decides to tell them he is a canniballistic alien scout sent here to see if there are enough unborn fetuses on the planet Earth to feed the population of his homeworld, Kenyalla, for the next two centuries.

    Reply

  175. eddie the k says:

    Hey Frank C., keep believing that. There is going to be an electoral TSUNAMI in November if you folks keep believing that. Our President is a complete novice, and is VERY POORLY advised, yet folks like you keep your head in the sand. Obama would do very well to ditch all 4, especially Rahm and that mouthpiece who giggles like a silly schoolgirl at every press conference.

    Reply

  176. ww11 says:

    I don’t think Obama has too much loyalty. If he could get rid of
    even one of his gang he would, if it would help him politically, (and
    it would), but for some reason (and it’s not touchy-feely trust
    stuff), he can’t. My guess is that there is something they all know
    that can’t come out. He’s stuck with them all because if he incurs
    the wrath of any one of them, he risks that info getting out. So,
    he’s stuck with them, staying the course, and hoping things turn
    around, like in the campaign, though right now it doesn’t look
    likely.

    Reply

  177. tatertot says:

    I am no-where near an insider, so I just offer the feeling of the Midwest. It is more an observation or intuition than fact based. To me they all seem like amateurs. Little boys with big britches trying to convince America they are doing more than they are doing, are smarter that everybody else, and have egos way too big to ever admit they need help! They think we are stupid and that we will not notice we are being talked down to. They seem determined to ignore the will of the people. I see their arrogance as their Achilles heel!

    Reply

  178. DonS says:

    “You and the HuffPosters gave up on Obama when he didn’t nationalize the banks in his 1st month. ” (Cat)
    Actually, a lot ‘gave up’ when Obama started out with a big y’all come to Rick Warren, and began the stiffing of his most passionate supporters.
    Clemons was and has not been among those who have trashed Obama, and has constantly attempted a constructive criticism that recognizes the magnitude of issues that need presidential leadership, though he has not been shy about the magnitude of the leadership required. It has been in his comments section that folks have fleshed out the disaster in the making.
    Critics are bashed for expecting Obama to be something he never was or bashed for expecting him to become something he never can. My own take remains that, from day one, Obama wanted to be seen and accepted as mainstream — for all the obvious reasons — and has shaped his behavior that way. Unfortunately, the forces of fear and hate and “I’ve got mine” are equally determined to destroy any possibility that Obama will make headway, even with a modest agenda that is becoming more modest every day. Whether this is a greater or lesser degree of friction and hate than in the past, or even if Obama is just another establishment clone, can be argued. Given the race factor, I say it is greater and gut wrenchingly more virulent.
    Even more unfortunate than Obama’s basic tendency to be a mainstream center guy, with a message of bipartisan inclusion [that cannot succeed] is that the mass of domestic and foreign affairs demand exceptional leadership. A self conscious insistence on maintaining a style of governance, however one characterizes it, is inconsistent with the challenges that demand addressing substance first and disengaging from cerebrating on externalities.
    I respect and ponder on Dan K’s thought that “This frenzy looks like the usual DC hostile takeover of a presidency, and a renewed effort to battle through the last inner circle consisting of the only real friends the president has . . .”. But I’m puzzled as well. If the Luce reporting is correct and that Obama excludes and demeans even his Cabinet, surely that inner circle has to be seen as a problem; or rather it becomes a symptom that Obama’s methods are a problem. We have clearly seen how Obama talks the talk so well, but has had little apparent problem in distancing himself from constituencies issues, e.g., LGBT, quite effectively, rendering the conclusion of ‘lip service’, weakness, etc. etc. His smooth rhetoric can innoculate him from substantive criticism for just so long.

    Reply

  179. sub says:

    “I continue to believe Obama is working a plan that arcs further
    than I can comprehend. He’s an awfully smart guy.”
    god is that pathetic. you’re willing to jettison your own mind and
    common sense because you hero worship the false prophet from
    Chi-town. obama is a very smart man, at using and co-opting
    people, at his own self-aggrandizement. Do you know the type for
    whom their “job” is essentially a vehicle to fame, power, money,
    and other jobs? The type that doesn’t ever seem to do any work,
    per se, but always rises? That’s Obama, plain and simple. Thanks
    for electing him, progressives and other assorted fools.

    Reply

  180. sub says:

    Obama is delusional. He’ll never acknowledge any truth, any need
    for change. Typical arrogant narcissist. Will do more damage to
    this country than Jimmy Carter could ever dream of….

    Reply

  181. Heidi says:

    Steve,
    You have done a huge service for President Obama and for the country by drawing attention to Luce’s article. Hopefully, it’s in the nick of time.
    A few observations from this non-insider:
    Well before the election, I figured that progressives like me would be disappointed by Obama, that he would not be nearly as bold or as liberal as we would like. Nevertheless, I voted for him and caucused for him in the Texas Two-Step primary. I felt he was our best choice then, and I still do.
    I think his essential character is to be cautious. When people criticize him for not having substance or not communicating effectively, despite 29 speeches on health care, I think the underlying issue is Obama’s reluctance to A) close off any options, and B) lay his own personal political capital on the line. The result is, we’re reading tea leaves trying to figure out where he really stands on things, and his options are getting closed for him without him ever actually making a choice. I think this is his character, and unfortunately, Rahm Emmanuel appears to be an enabler of this tendency. President Obama has to start laying his own personal popularity on the line. He’s a smart man and a fast learner. I think he can do this.
    The other thing I remember from before the election were several articles about how as a state senator, Obama preferred to work within the existing rules. It’s probably the only way to have a chance at success, and as I recall, this is why he originally wanted Tom Daschle to spearhead healthcare reform.
    It’s ironic, then, that Obama’s presidency is being compared to Jimmy Carter’s. What I remember (vaguely, I was pretty young then), was that Carter did a frontal assault Pickett’s Charge on Washington, and all of the players drew out their long knives.
    So here’s Obama in 2009, playing by the rules — which means buying off everybody he has to in order to achieve the greater good, which is to get health care reform passed. Except — thanks to the financial crisis, the bailouts and the AIG bonuses, everybody of every political persuasion is just sick of how Washington operates. (Yet, here’s another irony, thanks to the Supreme Court’s recent decision, passed by justices supported by Tea Party types, the corruption is going to be on steroids.) The net is, Obama got stuck with some very unlucky timing.
    In this environment (or maybe any environment, really), Rahm Emmanuel is clearly not the right person to be chief of staff. He seems to be a toxic, corrupting influence. I’ve felt that he’s led Obama to compromise his principles — for political gain that never even materialized (the Greg Craig departure and closure of Gitmo, for example). More than ever, with people’s disgust with Washington, Obama needs to re-take his principled stands and hold absolutely firm.
    I agree with the suggestion of David Gergen. He is a wonderful “wise man.”

    Reply

  182. WigWag says:

    It’s actually ironic that Rahm Emanuel has a reputation for being so tough. The myth about him is that when crossed, he always goes for the jugular.
    Paul Krugman has an interesting line in his New York Times column today. What Krugman points out is that the legendary toughness of Rahm and the rest of the Obama team is mostly just illusory.
    Cross the Obama Administration and they never go for the jugular; occasionally, if they are feeling particularly macho, they will go for the capillaries.

    Reply

  183. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I work and play in an extremely “conservative” environment, and can attest to the fact that it is a serious mistake to underestimate the right’s ability to put some bimbo like Palin into the Oval Office.
    The Limbaugh/Hannity/Beck/Tea Party spin machine is a formidable force, and I meet people of all social strata in Central California, from carpenters to obscenely wealthy oilmen and farmers that get ALL their information from this lying backstabbing heavily financed and politically propelled army of traitors to the Fourth Estate. There is a huge number of people out there that are so ignorant, and so misinformed, and so religiously indoctrinated, that they accept the blatherings of the RW spin machine as gospel. And if Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity tells them to vote, and who to vote for, they will move heaven and earth to get to the polls. Therein lies Obama’s biggest, and most damaging failure. He is handing the majority back to right, on a silver platter. If he keeps this shit up, they will sweep the elections. And the spin machine, the slimey lying sack of shit corporate media will become even MORE powerful than it already is.
    Sometimes it feels like the Twilight Zone. Did you ever think you’d see some ignorant redneck twit like Sarah Palin have a chance at the Oval Office???? God help us.

    Reply

  184. Gay and Proud says:

    Steve,
    Your post has 665 comments at Huffington Post, about 80 comments here at TWN, and 94 at TPMCafe.
    Congratulations on the fact that a ton of folks are reading what you wrote!

    Reply

  185. Outraged American says:

    We cannot have change until we change the ballot access laws, it’s
    that simple. The DimbocReeps need other party challengers.
    And if you think Caribou Barbie doesn’t have a shot (pun intended),
    think again about the eight years under Cheney disguised as
    Dumbo.

    Reply

  186. DCpol says:

    Steve,
    You have brought out everyone on this. Bottom line is that your comments are brilliant. Thanks for the provocative, important post. Thanks to Edward Luce too.

    Reply

  187. questions says:

    Dante Atkins over at kos has a piece up on the dkos/r2k survey that has a fair number of self-identified Repubs agreeing with the crazier things Fox has been putting out. It’s worth a read given that Obama’s failures seem to be related to the ill-informed but cohesive Repub base.
    The sad fact of our system, and probably any political system, is that the elites use the masses even as they need the masses. Aristotle and Hegel both got this one right, and Marx thought that one day the masses would figure this out. Fat chance!
    So the Repub elites make use of the anxieties of the non-elites. They prey on the fear of “socialism” and race and the government’s taking away that last little bit of dignity one has managed to carry in one’s pocket. The fear of loss is ever greater than the joy in gain, and nowhere is this clearer than in the preference for pathetic or no insurance over a government sponsored plan that will cost a little but come with subsidies.
    The elites don’t really think Obama is a socialist. They don’t think he’s the worst of the worst. But they benefit from getting others to think these things and not a one of these Republican leaders can survive the Limbaugh onslaught. They tried and failed. Lord, even Sarah Palin had to back off her “**tard” complaints. Note that well. Even Sarah Palin had to back down.
    The current Republicans are in the driver’s seat because all they have to do is say NO. It’s easy, it plays to their base’s anxieties, it’s fun, it serves the interests of the caucus members, it will increase the size of the caucus in the next election and will bring all sorts of goodies.
    Meanwhile, if Obama is to thrive, he has to DO things. Doing things means alienating some people, taking from some and giving to others. It’s humane and right and true and good and beautiful and all of that, but it is a taking, and people HATE takings.
    So once again, I come back to the structural reading of history as a crucial enterprise, one that equals or transcends the personality version touted by the article above. Start with the structure of our psyches that puts fear above desire, fear of loss above joy of gain. Add in the mass/elite differences. A dash of Senate structure and rural dominance and left wing intolerance of compromise. A cup of rightwing talking points repeated so often as to seem true to some fairly well educated people I know… Put it in a low oven for a few months and voila, the current political impasse.
    If there’s a way around all of this, maybe it’s in Obama’s basic likeability. The guy is personable, really smart, in command of a fair amount of policy at this point. It’s hard to think he’s a socialist when he’s talking right to you. So maybe he should just go on Fox 24/7. Ground rules limit interruptions. Let the man talk.
    The basic dem policies are pretty sound around the edges. Health care, environmental care, financial care — at some level there should be some agreement about the need to manage public goods for THE CHILDREN. So message it.
    Every sandwich generation adult knows that if their parents aren’t taken care of through the public tax system, they will have to be taken care of through the private tax system instead. The cost of supporting a retired and ailing parent when one is, oneself, stretched is a thing to behold. Start emphasizing that. YOU WILL PAY one way or another. You will. Or your parents, to whom you owe your life, will die horribly.
    Every one of us wants our children, our siblings’ children, our nieces and nephews, our future surgeons… to be able to breathe in the future. The environmental issues are huge. There’s a selfish component to play up. So play it up.
    If somehow the very selfishness and anxiety that dominates the right’s narrative can be brought to bear on a positive program of action that is both selfish and, umm, self-regarding and umm, about one’s very own family — if the dems could figure out how to message this, then there might be some room for repair.
    Health care not for others, but for ME and my kids and my avoiding bankruptcy. (Of course this is the goal of the “you won’t have to change a thing if you like what you have.”)
    Environment for ME.
    Financial reform for ME.
    If the ad people out there can craft a purely selfish dogwhistle for the “change agenda”, one that subverts anxiety and makes the Republican position untenable, that might be something to do. But the structures in between where we are now and where we need to go are, well, structural.
    Again, I wish the dem enterprise well. Another round of Republican “governance” is not going to be pretty. We really need to work together in cooperative games. Non-cooperative games are not socially beneficial.

    Reply

  188. SteinL says:

    FDR is said to have betrayed his class, by creating policies that favored a majority of Americans. Smart politics.
    Obama, through being failed by a few close advisers, is betraying his class, creating policies perceived to favor a “minisculity” of Americans.
    Dumb policits.
    But in a bizarro universe where 41 constitutes a majority of a 100, I guess counting is not in vogue any longer.
    Obama is not a leader, never was and never will be. He’s an operator.

    Reply

  189. nadine says:

    “But this business about Obama being so hyper-partisan that he’s hurt the poor Republicans feelings so they won’t work with him is making my sides hurt from laughing.” (MarkL)
    You’ll be glad to know that you’re not the only one laughing. When Obama told the House GOP caucus “I am not an ideologue” he was greeted with incredulous laughter, quite spontaneously. He added plaintively, “I’m not.”
    See, this is what you get when you try to be all things to all people based on tone.
    To the far left, Obama said “You know I’m really one of you and this time we’ll get health care reform done.” and you lot expected great things from him.
    To the moderates, Obama said “I’m a pragmatist, not an ideologue” and they expected flexibility from him, but got it only when the Blue Dogs rebelled, terrified at their election prospects.
    To the Republicans, Obama said, “I want to work in a bipartisan way”, but then Pelosi shut the GOP out of the room and refused to consider tort reform or selling insurance across state lines.
    In no case did the substance match up with the rhetoric. So now everybody’s mad at him.
    On top of that, the bill(s) are very unpopular. So any Presidential success will come at the expense of the Democratic caucus. Which is why it’s not going to happen going into the midterms.

    Reply

  190. Carroll says:

    What is the Obama plan?
    Is there one?
    Seeing as how Dodd and the ziocons just passed an gas embargo on Iran and the only way to enforce it is a navel blockade.
    And Obama just royally, not once but twice, pissed off China.
    I am having a hard time seeing any plan that leads to anything except more of same disaster we got from Bush’s neo outfit.
    BWTTGASO

    Reply

  191. fars wellgo says:

    I continue to believe Obama is working a plan that arcs further than I can comprehend. He’s an awfully smart guy. Having read his biography, however, I fear that he came away from community organizing–his introduction to politics–with a tool box that doesn’t work in Washington. So I’m not sure it’s a winning plan.
    In grassroots politics, people further their selfish interests by creating change–business improvements, better schools and parks, home ownership, street plowing. Everyone gains by their connection to things that work. In DC, pols observe that change offers them more risks than rewards. Partisanship, lobbyists, and fund-raising must make it a terribly toxic place to be an elected official.
    I’m not surprised that Al Franken spoke so boldly to the President last week. He’s new. He still thinks there might be a critical mass of heavy hitters who came to town to change things for the better. I’m sure there are, too! It’s just that most are resigned to the idea that it’ll never happen. Their main job has become planning for their next campaign. Change? Not important.

    Reply

  192. MarkL says:

    Nadine,
    Can you stick to Zionist propaganda?
    You’re better at that, and most people don’t know enough to deal with you.
    But this business about Obama being so hyper-partisan that he’s hurt the poor Republicans feelings so they won’t work with him is making my sides hurt from laughing.

    Reply

  193. MarkL says:

    Oh please, Afu,
    Obama went into the Republicans’ den and gave them all wet kisses, saying that his bills are SOOOO Republican he should vote for some of them.
    My god, has there ever been a more pathetic message or messenger?
    “Love me—I’m really one of you guys”.
    If you think Obama was being combative there, you have forgotten people like Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay and Dick Armey. Obama was trying to make himself look better. The more he public tries to get along with Republicans, the thinking goes, the less he will blamed personally if nothing happens. The rest of the Democrats can fend for themselves.

    Reply

  194. nadine says:

    “Somebody then asked Obama, “Where does the change come from?” And he replied testily, “the change comes from me.” That suggests an attitude of foolish overconfidence and misunderstanding about the chief executive’s ability to force and forge progressive policy change in an administration filled with “rivals” developing policies running in different directions.” (Dan Kervick)
    I was with you until you got to the “team of rivals” bit. Sure the beef against the Emanuel/Jarrett/Axelrod/Gibbs foursome is not that they are rivals, but that they are too close allies, too insular, too narrow in outlook and capacity?

    Reply

  195. nadine says:

    “It’s my impression that the talk sessions with the Republicans are meant to be 1) a teaching opportunity for the nation on health policy, 2) a demonstration of transparency, 3) a demonstration that the president cares about bipartisanship, 4) a box to check off before going for reconciliation.” (Amy)
    IOW, so Obama can claim “I tried” now that it no longer matters. When it mattered, he & Pelosi & Reid shut Republicans out of the room and wouldn’t talk to them at all. That was when they decided to ram health care reform through on a party line vote.
    Obama’s little bull session with the GOP was a good illustration of why he has less credibility every day.
    Obama doesn’t use words to say what he is actually going to do or has done; he uses them to *counterbalance* his actions, as a kind of smokescreen.
    Every time he talks of fiscal prudence, you know another gusher of deficit spending is on the way; every time he talks about bipartisanship, you know he will discuss anything but actual policy compromise which might produce passable legislation.
    Obama really thinks that being polite to conservatives and then scolding them for “inexplicable” non-cooperation, is all that bipartisanship requires. It worked at the Harvard Law Review, didn’t it? He really believes the political spectrum goes from the far left to the center. The right side doesn’t really exist; it’s just pure partisanship.

    Reply

  196. Liz says:

    I sometimes think that part of the problem with President Obama’s administration is his personal preference to apply an incremental, logical approach to every issue. When you are standing in a flood stream up to your neck, taking baby steps will not get you very far. There are times, although few, when large steps must be taken to gain progress upstream, otherwise you can either end up on your ass 3 miles downstream or drowned. In addition, the incremental technical step-like solution doesn’t make for a compelling narrative.

    Reply

  197. Tony C. says:

    Dan –
    “As the economy continues to bounce back during 2010, and it
    is…”
    From what I gather, having closely followed a group of very
    smart economists and investors who accurately anticipated the
    past decade’s bubbles and crashes well in advance, there is far
    more reason to be pessimistic than optimistic about the
    prospects of a near-term recovery.
    There are many reasons for this, not the least of which are
    further likely setbacks in both commercial and residential real
    estate. I don’t want to go off too much on this tangent, but here
    is a simple graphic that illustrates just one of the serious,
    looming dangers lurking just ahead:
    http://www.dailyreckoning.com.au/images/dr_20091222A.jpg

    Reply

  198. ... says:

    dan, you are posting an unusual number of times on this thread today…. i think you underestimate the abilities of the media/corp powers in sync with right wing elements in the usa to elect someone like palin… i wouldn’t discount her so easily…

    Reply

  199. Carroll says:

    Posted by John Aravosis, Feb 07 2010, 2:10PM – Link>>>>>>>>>>>
    I don’t want to come between you and Frank but a note to you “insiders”….
    There are two main mistakes people make.
    1) Assuming they know more,are smarter, than other people.
    2) Assuming other people know more,are smarter, than they are.
    Not that I (and others)don’t agree with Steve’s opinion and hadn’t noticed and come to the same conclusion on my/our own… but very often the “insiders” make both the above mistakes at very the same time.

    Reply

  200. Dan Kervick says:

    “… he stands a good chance at reelection because the Republicans may nominate Palin.”
    She can’t win. But you have to admit, she is a modern master of the hand-o-prompter.

    Reply

  201. Carroll says:

    I agree in main with Steve and the article.
    To be brief, Obama is now the “establishment” we all voted against.
    Evidently he always was… a product of the club.

    Reply

  202. Franklin says:

    1. One might think that a team specializing in political messaging would still be successful at the enactment of policy. In itself I don’t see this as a major strike, but in practice perhaps it has been. The biggest problem with messaging has likely been intra-party communication. The last White House and GOP Congresses did a good job of echoing each others talking points over, and over, and over again.
    2. In reference to the Kruschev analogy and foreign policy, which was used in reference to Netanyahu; I think an even more apt application might be in terms of domestic politics. The GOP has certainly taken its measure of this president and the Democratic Congress. It’s hard to see something like the Shelby holds happening in an environment where the other side sees any kind of price for extreme over-reach. Shelby’s actions are a blatant in-your-face kind of ploy showing just how little respect he has for the majority leader and this president.

    Reply

  203. Micheline says:

    As much as I have a problem with Rahm, I don’t think that he is the main problem. The main problem is the senate. The House has carried out Obama’s agenda. This is not the case with the Senate as a result of the filibuster. So this idea about the Chicago 4 is nonsense. I will say this that the president needs a better press shop. His press people have been horrible.

    Reply

  204. Dan Kervick says:

    It looks like Steve has brought out all the knives in the beltway. But I wonder. Is Valerie Jarrett the author of the Af-Pak escalation and the Israel cave-in? Did Robert Gibbs personally put the kibosh on the public option? Is Axelrod the main guy arguing that we must at all costs keep Aetna and Wall Street happy?
    This frenzy looks like the usual DC hostile takeover of a presidency, and a renewed effort to battle through the last inner circle consisting of the only real friends the president has, so that the city can own his ass completely.

    Reply

  205. susan says:

    “It might be interesting
    for you to suggest people you think who should be on a Team B…”
    For Chief of Staff:
    I suggest HOWARD DEAN!

    Reply

  206. K. Santel says:

    I agree with Pissed Off American and I was a big Obama supporter from the day he announced in February 2007. I now see this as a vanity presidency: He is the first black president; he stands a good chance at reelection because the Republicans may nominate Palin; and he will make $100 million when he leaves office.
    The healthcare bill has been hard to watch. My husband’s european relatives think Americans are so stupid to be against national health insurance but they do not understand that there was never any intention to have national health insurance like they have in europe. I live in New Jersey and we have near-universal access to health insurance by law. We would likely pay higher taxes to subsidize people in “red” states because we are always subsidizing the people in red states. Our state is in trouble with the budget now so I am not surprised that people are wary of the Democratic healthcare bills.
    Foreign policy – Obama is just Bush II. What a disappointment. And now we learn that the first black president and the first black attorney general have a policy of assassinating Americans who are “involved with terrorism.” Those southern governors and police chiefs would have loved the Obama-Holder rules of engagement back in the 60’s: Call them terrorists and kill them. Is that what Barack Obama learned at Harvard Law School?

    Reply

  207. Dan Kervick says:

    “You are closer to the truth than you likely realize but …”
    Ohhh, that sounds so Deep Throaty, btraven. You Washington folks slay me.

    Reply

  208. Dan Kervick says:

    “I honestly and sincerely think the problem lies with the man himself. Not as a matter of politics but as a matter of personal management style. And I don’t think that any amount of shifting people around is going to solve that problem. The man himself has to change and I think that’s highly unlikely.”
    Probably true. One thing that worried me was something Obama said during the transition. I don’t have the exact quote. But after Obama had chosen his team, he seemed miffed when it turned out that a lot of Democrats were perplexed and dismayed that this “change agent” had picked a team of safe, unexciting and middle-of-the-road characters, eminently acceptable to all and sundry on Wall Street and in the permanent government. (He had even chosen to keep on the Secretary of Defense from the reviled Bush administration, even though the coalition that won him the nomination was characterized by nothing so much as vigorous opposition to eight years of Bush national security and military policy! Now we’re getting more runaway defense budgets, and defense cuts are officially off the table.)
    Somebody then asked Obama, “Where does the change come from?” And he replied testily, “the change comes from me.” That suggests an attitude of foolish overconfidence and misunderstanding about the chief executive’s ability to force and forge progressive policy change in an administration filled with “rivals” developing policies running in different directions. The President doesn’t get to do a lot of micromanagement of policy formulation. His days are filled with *decisions* on matters brought to his attention. He gets to set a few broad directions and goals, and then has to delegate to his team the job of developing the polices that get him there.
    I really wish he had never read that Doris Kearns Goodwin book, because what he really needed was a team of *allies*, uniformly committed to the program of progressive change that had garnered for him a resounding victory. The idea that he could satisfy every pre-existing beltway political constituency or “franchise”, and also push for progressive change at the same time, is a foolish delusion.

    Reply

  209. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Seeing Reid and Hoyer rush off to Israel to cow-tow to Netanyahu, right on the heels of Obama’s tepid “settlement demands”, illustrates perfectly the disfunction and lack of cohesion in the Democratic ranks.
    Meanwhile, you had Hillary practicing this bizzarro brand of “diplomacy” where she announces to the media that we will “engage” with Iran, but it won’t work, and stringent sanctions will become necessary. And you gotta love her lauditory comments about Netanyahu’s non-existent “concessions” to the Palestinians.
    And how does Obama’s own party react to Netanyahu’s arrogance and disrespect? Why, they vote to bury the Goldstone Report, of course. And, vote to send the intransigent Israelis a few more billion of our tax dollars. Now, by God, thats the way to get Israel and the Palestinians back into peace talks, eh?
    There ain’t much to crow about when considering what Steve labels the “Obama brand”. But then, come to think of it, there ain’t much to crow about in DC, period, no matter which side of the aisle you’re slumming in. Unless you want to brag a bit about the marketing campaign that put these current losers in the hot seat. Now THAT, by God, was one hell of a successful con job. Too bad they can’t govern on a par with their ability to sell bullshit.

    Reply

  210. susan says:

    Amy writes: “I am a very pragmatic person who is a long-term habitual voter and a life-long Democrat and I don’t know why I should vote in November if they can’t get health care passed.”
    As another life long Democrat, I completely agree with Amy’s statement. In addition, please know that a mandate without a strong public option will be the kiss of death for Democrats!

    Reply

  211. Outraged American says:

    What time is it in Tel Aviv, Sweetness? Give Bibi a big kiss from moi.
    Hope he has some morning wood for you and Wig and Questions!
    Of course Bibi’s biggest boner is saved for Nadine.

    Reply

  212. Steven Clemons says:

    Martha — obviously, I disagree with you about the individuals you
    discount — but I respect the notion that any list, and some of the
    individuals, would not appeal to everyone. It might be interesting
    for you to suggest people you think who should be on a Team B
    rather than discounting the concept. I want change — but I’m a
    realist….and I’m comfortable with much of the DC insider crowd. I
    don’t hide this — but that doesn’t mean that you and others could
    not assemble a better list. That would be an interesting
    contribution to the discussion. All the best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  213. Martha says:

    Reading it and found it interesting and believable until the suggestions for a new group of advisors. Katrina vanden Heuvel had an idea –forget new or original — when? She’s a non-thinker and should stick to ‘jokes for the john’ type writing like her dictionary of Republicans.
    After 9-11, Tom Daschle’s wife’s lobbying was a scandal and his own inability to keep his tax records straight means keep him away from the administration. James Fallows embarrassed himself two Fridays ago on The Diane Rehm Show when Diane Rehm asked him and her two other guests about the Iraq Inquiry that’s been going on for four months in London and they all tried to b.s. their way through an answer as it became obvious they didn’t know a damn thing about the Inquiry. As for Zbigniew Brezezinski who lived in fear of the Fidel ‘threat’ throughout the 70s and ‘gave’ us modern day Afghanistan, he should find a less public life for himself, he’s done enough damage.

    Reply

  214. Amy says:

    It’s my impression that the talk sessions with the Republicans are meant to be 1) a teaching opportunity for the nation on health policy, 2) a demonstration of transparency, 3) a demonstration that the president cares about bipartisanship, 4) a box to check off before going for reconciliation.
    With all my heart, I hope they don’t end up as a prelude for a big stall. If health care doesn’t pass, it will go down as a major policy and political defeat. I am a very pragmatic person who is a long-term habitual voter and a life-long Democrat and I don’t know why I should vote in November if they can’t get health care passed.

    Reply

  215. MarkL says:

    Is part of the problem that neither Rahm nor Obama had enough experience with the Senate?
    Apparently Obama really thought that he could peel off a Republican vote, and Rahm didn’t know any better. After Obama’s disastrous first year, there’s even less chance that Obama will get any Republican Senate votes—they can see a dead man walking.
    Of course Clinton didn’t have that experience, but he’s much smarter than Obama, and much savvier politically too.
    I don’t think his talk sessions with Republicans are going to have the positive effect he hopes for—not when it comes to passing legislation.

    Reply

  216. CincinnatusDC says:

    There is certainly a sense among many Dems in DC that the Obama White House team is too narrow and too smug. But the problem isn’t personnel, it’s weak leadership by this Administration. This President is so afraid of losing a legislative battle that soft Democrats know that they have nothing to lose by bucking him. A strong leader wins because he (or she) follows his (or her) principles and is not afraid to lose. This President needs to force a few issues — that pressure will drive successful compromises, not the other way around.

    Reply

  217. Outraged American says:

    If Obama is reading this the tell him to work tirelessly to change
    ballot access so that we can have real CHANGE.

    Reply

  218. kotzabasis says:

    Obama a weak president is being taken for a long ride on the strong backs of his Four Horsemen toward his political Apocalypse. No need to send him as a warning the head of a dead horse, as already Obama’s head has been placed on the tumbril on its way to his political guillotine.
    The trouble, at least of his two Horsemen, was that while they were very good in galloping toward the winning post, i.e., winning the election, they were very bad in crafting good realisable domestic and foreign policies. Both Axelrod and Emanuel are themselves victims of the sharp edge “dead fish” policies of Chicago politics.

    Reply

  219. DCInsider says:

    Steve,
    Your piece has gone viral. Everyone is talking about it, and Edward Luce certainly owes you a promotion fee because you did manage to put the legs on his excellent Financial Times article. There are over 400 comments on Huffington Post. This article is now at TPM Cafe and of course, the best comments in the blogosphere are in the diverse set of extraordinary, mostly regular commenters you have here.
    My shop reads your work every day — and I want to thank you for revealing what is obvious to us more and more each day.
    Like you, we want President Obama to succeed, for the sake of the entire nation.
    You have really done great work, and I know that your article will be read by the President himself.
    Thanks for your contributions to the country.

    Reply

  220. btraven says:

    Steve,
    You are closer to the truth than you likely realize but there is a
    very large unanswered question here: if the Chicago team
    around Obama is forced out or collapses of its own weight,
    what replaces them? Something holds that team together and it
    is likely a political orientation that the President (and the First
    Lady) are closely aligned with. What orientation would replace
    this? And why would Obama be willing to agree with it? The B
    list of names you propose is eclectic to say the least.
    The deeper question here is the overall purpose and direction of
    the Democratic Party. A battle at the top, even if aimed at
    correcting the dysfunction that you rightly emphasize, that does
    not open a discussion of what would constitute a constructive
    and progressive future for liberalism may trigger a battle from
    which the party will not recover.
    B. Traven

    Reply

  221. Dan Kervick says:

    The WH communication shop has been remarkably passive, hasn’t put forward a strong message on particular policy issues (see health care), hasn’t hit back on criticisms, hasn’t used individual stories to humanize issues, and hasn’t built a narrative or put forth an overarching theory to the public.
    I strongly agree with this, and have mentioned several times over the past few months that the White House’s passive and defensive approach to communication is killing them. They constantly leave it to others – op-ed writers, talking heads, bloggers – to tell the stories and teach the lessons they should be conveying themselves. They routinely allow big open spaces of confusion and silence to emerge into which all of their enemies opportunistically pour competing narratives and interpretations of events. Whenever Obama makes a really big speech, or has an event like the Republican retreat in which he *personally* handles the communication responsibilities, things get a little better, but then they fall behind continuously during the spaces between Obama events.
    The administration does not seem to have even one single number two go-to person that looks good on TV, commands wide public trust, and speaks with the right combination of brains, humor and authority. They actually need three or four of these folks to handle to communications load. And they have to stop pretending to be above all the fighting.

    Reply

  222. MarkL says:

    Nadine,
    cut the crap.
    Bush never negotiated with Dems, with the possible exception of NCLB.
    On the tax and war bills, he was able to peel off some Dems because the Dems have no discipline, not because he offered anything.
    Conversely, Obama cannot negotiate with Republicans even though he has tried more in 1 year than Bush did in 8, because Republicans in the Senate are unified, obstructionist bloc.

    Reply

  223. nadine says:

    Taylor, I have a news flash for you: negotiating with your OWN caucus does not count as bipartisanship.

    Reply

  224. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Taylor, its not “ad hominem”, its simple observation. If I saw such body language from a family member, I am afraid I would be gravely concerned for their mental health.
    And if you have any interest in foreign affairs, (as I suspect you do), I am a bit suprised at your glowing endorsement considering her subservient compliance with all things Israel, as well as her treatment of the war with Iran option, removing it from the Congressional “must approve” list.
    The CAPTCHA here is a real challenge, isn’t it??? Kinda like trying to kick start an old panhead Harley thats outta time.
    (But a quirky CAPTCHA feature trumps death threats, hands down. Eh Taylor?)
    And you’re right, Emanuel is no Cheney. Emanuel has had his horns surgically removed, whereas Cheney has chosen to openly display them.

    Reply

  225. Taylor says:

    “Watch Pelosi’s face and body language. That woman is a quarter inch from being certifiably insane, ”
    I don’t know where this ad hominem attack comes from, or what in fact it means. But if we can leave aside the character-bashing for a minute, let’s acknowledge that Pelosi has had an extraordinary track record as Majority Leader this year. Had it not been for the sclerotic Senate, and the feckless leadership of Obama and Reid, she would have delivered on the “change” that Obama promised. But all indications are that Obama is as scared of that change as the rest of the DC elite.
    Nadine says so many things that are mindless parroting of DC conventional wisdom. The accusation of Obama’s failure to be bipartisan is comical. Is this Sally Quinn? Let’s just point this out: the individual mandate, one of the essential legs of making healthcare reform work, is the buzzsaw that the Democrats are going to run headlong into in November. Yet support for mandates goes up measurably if it is paired with a public sector alternative to the despised health insurance industry. And the “left of the left” would have been happy with Medicare expansion, which had 59 votes in the Senate. I know, it’s those pesky facts things that refuse to play along with conventional wisdom. Better not to think, just keep parroting.
    Oh yeah, what Bush had was Dick Cheney, who was (and is) a master of working the federal establishment. Rahm Emanuel is no Dick Cheney, unfortunately.

    Reply

  226. Taylor says:

    “Watch Pelosi’s face and body language. That woman is a quarter
    inch from being certifiably insane, ”
    I don’t know where this ad hominem attack comes from, or what
    in fact it means. But if we can leave aside the character-bashing
    for a minute, let’s acknowledge that Pelosi has had an
    extraordinary track record as Majority Leader this year. Had it
    not been for the sclerotic Senate, and the feckless leadership of
    Obama and Reid, she would have delivered on the “change” that
    Obama promised. But all indications are that Obama is as scared
    of that change as the rest of the DC elite.
    Nadine says so many things that are mindless parroting of DC
    conventional wisdom. The accusation of Obama’s failure to be
    bipartisan is comical. Is this Sally Quinn? Let’s just point this
    out: the individual mandate, one of the essential legs of making
    healthcare reform work, is the buzzsaw that the Democrats are
    going to run headlong into in November. Yet support for
    mandates goes up measurably if it is paired with a public sector
    alternative to the despised health insurance industry. I know,
    it’s those pesky facts things that refuse to play along with
    conventional wisdom. Better not to think, just keep parroting.
    Oh yeah, what Bush had was Dick Cheney, who was (and is) a
    master of working the federal establishment. Rahm Emanuel is
    no Dick Cheney, unfortunately.

    Reply

  227. nadine says:

    “the key lesson of the Bush years is that everything Bush achieved for the Republican party he achieved by being the “Cowboy” the press loved to hate.” (Daniel)
    If that is the lessen the Dem base took from the Bush years, they took the wrong lesson. Remember, Bush never had a supermajority; he needed some Democrats to pass anything. Bush did not come in with Obama’s “my way or the highway” mentality. One of Bush’s first bills was No Child Left Behind, which was co-sponsored by Ted Kennedy. Obama talks bipartisanship; but he has not offered a single bipartisan bill.
    Bush was also far more realistic about how many major bills a President could push through. I remember him once saying something to the effect that a successful President gets three major initiatives and it’s a mistake to attempt more.

    Reply

  228. PissedOffAmerican says:

    It is comical seeing Nadine addressed “with all DUE respect”.
    As well, it is comical seeing her hold Collins up as a positive for EITHER party. I watched Collins get on national TV and lie her ass off about the circumstances surrounding the crotch bombers legal standing and the decisions that determined it.
    The woman was either remarkably ill-informed, or completely lacking any regard for the truth. Neither option speaks well of her, and I suspect BOTH options were in play.
    In truth, one cannot help but be embarrassed by the parade of parrots, pirates, pissants, and buffoons that comprise the modern body politik. It is the rare DC denizen that one would desire as a neighbor, much less as one who is instrumental in shaping our security or welfare. This is particularly true of the “up and comers” on the right. Good Gawd, thirty years ago would you have imagined some bimbo like Palin would be considered Presidential material? Or some slobbering asshole like Limbaugh would be a driving force behind mainstream politics? And Steele???? You gotta be kidding me.
    But make no mistake, the left has little more to offer. Watch Pelosi’s face and body language. That woman is a quarter inch from being certifiably insane, and an exposed wrinkle is liable to push her over the edge. Then there is that pathetic mewling piece of shit Reid whose balls are hanging in Roberts’ trophy case due to the Phase Two charade.
    Are there ANY of these posturing frauds and criminals that can be displayed before the global community with any sort of national pride or high moral standing?
    If you aren’t embarrassed for our nation, you should be. Certainly, the rest of the planet is. Those that aren’t making fools of us, that is.

    Reply

  229. Daniel says:

    “What Obama could have done differently, I suppose, would have been to be far more incrementalist than he already was. But then you run smack into the dem base which really does not like incrementalism.”
    Nor should it. The Democratic base doesn’t like incrementalism because there is something inherent in the base that makes incrementalism incompossible with it. Rather, the democratic base doesn’t like incrementalism because the key lesson of the Bush years is that everything Bush achieved for the Republican party he achieved by being the “Cowboy” the press loved to hate.
    Rahm is dead wrong if he thinks that “overreaching” is the wrong tactic in a puluristic society. A smash in the face, a bullet to the head. Bush proved this works. The base elected Obama to be *their* bully not because they rejected bullies.

    Reply

  230. nadine says:

    Jim, I think you have the chronology confused. Harry Reid put the public option back into the Senate bill; that is what lost Olympia Snowe’s vote. Then Joe Lieberman’s refusal to vote for the public option made Reid drop it again. Reid and Pelosi don’t come off any better than Obama in this mess.
    questions, we could argue over the wording of various polls until the cows come home. What Obama needed was public support for a bill; A bill, not a hundred amorphous potential bills.
    Daniel, Obama thinks he’s similar to Lincoln but he is wrong. Lincoln ran on substance, not on style. Obama is so fixated on style that he doesn’t seem to understand what substance is or how to handle it. He keeps saying “I will not make a false choice” then refuses to make real and necessary choices.

    Reply

  231. MarkL says:

    I agree with Daniel. What’s sad for me is that after only 1 year of Obama, I miss having an effective President. Not that I agreed with anything Bush did, but his team certainly could have taught Obama a lot.

    Reply

  232. MarkL says:

    My impression is that Obama is not too concerned with the possibility of Democrats losing big in 2010—he’s looking forward to the campaign in 2012 and thinks that if he can “Sister Souljah” the “liberal democrats”, he’ll be reelected.
    Just look at the syrupy welcome he gave to Brown.
    The core problem is that Obama is a Republican-lite who was elected to lead the Democrats.
    It won’t work.

    Reply

  233. Daniel says:

    I think there is a simpler explanation for why Obama is adrift and in the “red” and it starts with Obama himself. I think there was a great deal of personal symbolism in Obama’s decision to get sworn in with Lincoln’s Bible. Obama’s approach to governing share some deep similarities to Lincoln.
    The problem is that we live in 2010 not the 1800s. The culture and the political expectations are just different. What worked then doesn’t work now.
    I honestly and sincerely think the problem lies with the man himself. Not as a matter of politics but as a matter of personal management style. And I don’t think that any amount of shifting people around is going to solve that problem. The man himself has to change and I think that’s highly unlikely.

    Reply

  234. Jim says:

    Snowe was offered the triggers she claimed were the compromise
    she wanted, she still backed off. The public option was dropped
    from Senate negotiations early on, and a “massive government
    takeover” only existed in the fetid paranoia of Glen Beck and the
    cheap demagoguery of the far right.

    Reply

  235. Amy says:

    With all due respect, Nadine, you assume that there was a way to for Obama to have “just insisted on keeping Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins on board.”
    I have watched both of those senators for years and Collins frequently disappoints. She almost never breaks with Republicans when it matters and her votes with Democrats almost always come when they make zero difference to the outcome. On health care, there was no way to keep her on board.
    But Snowe is not Collins. She is more willing to break with her party and has done so when it made a difference. However, she was not willing to bargain in good faith on health care. She was in the room with the others in the rump Senate Finance Committee group and her views were heard and incorporated into the bill. She even voted for the SFC bill. She has never been able to explain what, exactly, in the Senate bill was so unlike the SFC version that she couldn’t support it. For Snowe not to vote for the Senate bill shows an unwillingness based on politics, on not wanting to be the one Republican to break with her party.

    Reply

  236. questions says:

    Except that the public option polls around 61%, so the desires of the people are not where the Senate votes are. Also, note the fact of a supermajority’s being needed in the Senate. It’s a problem with our political system that things that people seem to want they also don’t want or don’t get. Hard to govern a mess like this!

    Reply

  237. nadine says:

    “What Obama could have done differently, I suppose, would have been to be far more incrementalist than he already was. But then you run smack into the dem base which really does not like incrementalism.” (questions)
    Undoubtedly. Consider how differently it might have played out if Obama had just insisted on keeping Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins on board. You don’t have to go very far right to do that, but you do have to drop the idea of a massive government takeover and a public option, which I agree the Dem base would not have stomached.
    The Dem base does not understand that they are only 30% of the country at best. I would argue that neither does Obama. He keeps trying the means of a conciliator to achieve the ends of an ideologue, because he thinks he is not an ideologue at all but a moderate centrist. Perhaps this was true at Harvard Law, perhaps it was even true in Chicago. It is NOT true in Washington DC.
    This fundamental misunderstanding of who and where he is, is what is killing Obama. That is my takeaway from the Luce article.

    Reply

  238. questions says:

    Except Nadine, health care is part of the bad economy. Huge numbers of bankruptcies come because of health costs, employment is more expensive because of health costs, lost work time, human suffering, irrational distribution or resources — all because of health costs.
    Obama didn’t get tripped up just because of this one anyway. The paralysis in the Senate goes far beyond this issue and is likely the main problem Obama faces. He tried to do the usual stuff to get around it — bribing, limiting the legislation — but it was insufficient. It’s just too too tempting for the Republicans to play with this one.
    What Obama could have done differently, I suppose, would have been to be far more incrementalist than he already was. But then you run smack into the dem base which really does not like incrementalism.
    To backtrack a bit, Gingrich played to the base and eventually did some serious damage to the Republican party. Learning from that lesson, Obama goes over to the other side, only now the dem base is so hungry from its years in the wild, so well-linked from the web, so involved from the campaign, so polarized, so fantasy-laden that it actually thinks it can get what it wants. Reality sets in when it turns out that there are power structures in place that don’t do what the base wants. The base gets turned off, the independents don’t get their instant gratification (why be a political independent? So you don’t have any responsibility for party-building, institution-maintenance, door to door work between elections, massive engagement, loyalty even when it’s personally costly — kinda like marrying vs dating) — so anyway, the left and right of Obama’s coalition are moving away because they want what they want when they want it and they don’t have the patience to stick around and get a little something for now, and a little something later.
    How does one battle this structure? Make no promises and win no elections. Pay off Congress with more pork. Get the media on your side. Get one early success that makes people feel good so they put up with stuff for a while longer. But then we had the bank bail out as the major early step. Necessity overtook politics. And I suppose the question is whether or not politics can reassert itself in time for the dems to keep the governing majority.
    If Obama plays to either edge of his coalition, which is not a natural coalition, he’s sunk. So there’s not a lot of room for him to play politics.
    And as a poster pointed out above, we should perhaps take to heart Clinton’s sign: it’s the economy, stupid. If employment does better, so will the governing party.

    Reply

  239. jonst says:

    Important article Steve, yours and Luce’s if for no other reason that it will become the talk of the town.
    I read it, and I thought of the movie On the Waterfront. As the movie nears to its climax Rod Steiger’s character, Charlie, is confronted by Brando’s character, Terry. Terry lays out a set of grievances against Charlie. Charlie acknowledges the grievances…but seeks to pass the blame off to other people. Terry looks Charlie dead in the eye and utters the one of the many famous lines from the movie: ‘it was you Charlie….it was you’.
    It’s Obama Steve, its Obama. Not any of the gang of four.

    Reply

  240. Jim says:

    The Rahm stuff rings true, the Valerie Jarrett stuff seems a bit
    gossipy. I carry no brief for her, really don’t know much about her,
    but when Beltway Insiders start mentioning restaurants, I shut
    down.
    If the argument for keeping RE is that his abrasiveness is matched
    by his effectiveness, then there isn’t much of an argument in his
    favor, and I don’t see what he could do as a member of the House
    that he can’t do as WHCOS, that Biden can’t do as an ex-Senator.
    The Obama communications team was overwhelmed (I think) by the
    persistence of the weak economy and even the tea party movement
    (look how much coverage the Palm Pilot from Alaska is getting for
    a speech given to seven hundred people, a hundred of whom were
    paid media– the fault lies not only in our elected leaders), but the
    real problem is in the broken branch, especially the Senate.

    Reply

  241. Frank Wilhoit says:

    It’s not fair to blame Obama for this. The Democratic Party’s window of opportunity opened in 2000, on the day of the Brooks Brothers riot. It closed (from neglect) on the following day and will never — NEVER — open again. Seizing that opportunity would have required the courage to acknowledge that the nation’s institutions had decisively failed, that the 1787 Constitution had been abrogated and was no longer in force, and that a total break of institutional continuity was required as a precondition to the establishment of a new legal regime. No one had such courage and that is, on balance, not surprising. But nothing can be done now: not by Barack Obama, not by Hillary Clinton, not by Sarah Palin or Ron Paul, not by the second coming of Winston Churchill, not by Alan Grayson, not by anyone real or imaginary.

    Reply

  242. Amy says:

    As someone outside of the Beltway and no insider, one thing that rings true to me is the conclusion that the WH communications team has been off track. They seem to not try to deal with a fact: There is indeed a permanent campaign. You can decry it, but that’s the reality.
    The WH communication shop has been remarkably passive, hasn’t put forward a strong message on particular policy issues (see health care), hasn’t hit back on criticisms, hasn’t used individual stories to humanize issues, and hasn’t built a narrative or put forth an overarching theory to the public.
    Besides health care, where messaging has clearly been problematic, the WH message on the economy has been remarkably weak. I grew up knowing that the government sometimes needs to “prime the pump,” and that money paid to one worker would be spent at local shops and thus go through the economy, creating positive ripple effects. In hard times, the government has to spend more money for these programs and also such things as unemployment insurance. I knew this because my parents lived through the Depression. Yet I’ve heard none of that from the Obama administration. The Republicans have their tale about deficits and the stimulus and Obama has not explained WHY that they are wrong.
    At least as far back as the Reagan WH, communications folks have known that you have to create images that will be picked up by the press, you have to create a coherent narrative, and you have to organize a series of folks to put forth coordinated talking points which are projected to promote your policies and to respond to one’s opponents views. These should be considered the basics, nay, the fundamentals of a communications operation. Yet they are lacking or poorly executed by the Obama WH. Time to step it up or go down in flames.

    Reply

  243. nadine says:

    “So I guess my takeaway is that another style would have had problems as well. Clinton failed in health care, lost control of Congress, but had some luck on his side, sort of.” (questions)
    Clinton was nimble in a way that Obama is not, at least so far. When Obama gets a plan in his head, he won’t change it. Obama wanted to do health care in Year One, regardless. So he tried to throw a (very big) sop to the economic situation with the Stimulus Bill.
    I think Clinton would have said, uh oh, conditions are not right, we need a good economy to attempt a new entitlement program. Of course it’s true that Clinton had a good economy when he became President. But we saw Clinton switch course after the 1994 midterms.
    Obama has gotten his warning even earlier, but is showing no sign of changing course. Much to the delight of Republicans, who are now hoping to take back both houses of Congress, which they couldn’t even dream of six months ago.
    “Otherwise, the Obama brand will be totally bust in the very near term.” That harsh assessment from a supporter says it all.

    Reply

  244. Mark Schmitt says:

    To Frank C: I appreciate the comment, “And Mark Schmitt would agree, if you were reading him regularly and if you hold him up as an example of someone who gets the game; he takes the long view as well.”
    I don’t know if Steve reads me regularly, but I think he does, and at any rate I’d be nobody without Steve, my former office-neighbor. In fact, what I liked about Luce’s piece and Steve’s expansion on it is exactly that it’s not obsessed with the latest “OMG, Rahm said something bad about liberals, we’re doomed!” mood, but actually seemed to look at the deeper structural forces within the White House that are potentially limiting even when the current economic and political situation passes.
    Steve and I don’t have exactly the same approach — he talks to infinitely more people than I do, for one thing, and I’m more generally optimistic about what the administration has done and can achieve. But in this case, both Steve and Ed seem to be getting below the superficialities to an accurate diagnosis of the problem of the White House’s structural choices, which are not irreparable, but at this point are undeniable.

    Reply

  245. DonS says:

    The last sentence in the Newseek article: “There is an old joke,” says Mr Gergen. “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one. But the lightbulb must want to change. I don’t think President Obama wants to make any changes.”
    This has been my most serious concern as far as the possibility of Obama shaking up his team. It goes against his narrative of comity, whether applied to hectoring republicans generally, homophobic preachers, Constitution shredding ex-presidents, denegrating Israeli PM’s, mouth breathing teabaggers. Certainly bursting the illusion of comity must cause even more dissonance when considered with regard to the closest insiders.
    There are ways that pols know how to work around that dissonance. Always have been, regardless of what the chattering classes might do to capture the mantel of all knowing interpreters.
    Cultivating that Disneyland approach to comity and bipartisanship — believing his own hype — has not served Obama well. Look at the flack he took for the eminently reasonable act of criticizing the Citizen’s United decision in the SOTU. Not much wiggle room in those goody two shoes.
    The question seems only one of best timing. Without big shifts, might as well stick a fork in him.

    Reply

  246. nadine says:

    Interesting article, and one that reminds me of the post-mortems of Jimmy Carter’s “Georgia mafia”. The paragraph that caught my eye was
    “Again, close allies of the president attribute the problem to the campaign-like nucleus around Mr Obama in which all things are possible. “There is this sense after you have won such an amazing victory, when you have proved conventional wisdom wrong again and again, that you can simply do the same thing in government,” says one. “Of course, they are different skills. To be successful, presidents need to separate the stream of advice they get on policy from the stream of advice they get on politics. That still isn’t happening.”
    This administration seemed to really believe that intractable problems of long standing would become solvable once the Obama magic was applied. No need to bother too much about the hard detailed policy work, which has been given short shrift.
    You can’t just blame this on the core advisers; this is Obama’s attitude. He gives far too many speeches that have far too little thought put into them, as if the sound of his voice alone would win the day. It did on campaign, didn’t it?
    Before anybody writes one more article that mentions the Obama administration’s “failure to communicate,” they need to accept and internalize the fact that Obama gave 29 speeches on health care reform and public support went nowhere but down. Literally, the highest point for public support was before Obama’s first speech.
    This is because Obama’s speeches did not make good sense. They listed benefits that could not all be true (e.g. you can’t fundamentally transform a system and yet keep the parts you like just the same) of bills which did not yet exist, and which proved so unpalatable to even the Democratic caucus that members had to be very visibly bribed to get on board. Of course people became suspicious! This was a policy fault, not just a process or communications fault.

    Reply

  247. Wrensis says:

    Thank you for presenting the view that nobody seems to want to hear. From the beginning the goal was to win and gain power. Now it seems to be hanging onto that power regardless of the outcome. “Power corrupts, absolue power corrupts absolutely”
    BTW your view from your house looked very much like my view from our house. LOTS of snow

    Reply

  248. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its interesting reading the postings of characters such as this “Frank”. He seems to think purely in terms of political advantage or standing.
    Those of us outside the beltway, through necessity, think in terms of actions, and the effect those actions have on our day to day lives.
    Often, when reading a comment such as Frank’s, I can’t help but assume he is an Administration insider, engaged in a bit of wishful marketing.
    To this humble Central Californian carpenter, I see a Presidential Administration in dissarray. I see appointments having been made that are counter-productive to stated policy goals. People are tasked to pursue and construct policies that their past political histories tell us they would neither pursue nor endorse if in the position to choose.
    In addition, the current “majority party” is in equally discordant dissarray, with Obama exhibiting a probably fatal inability to marshall his forces into a unified effort on any given issue or policy.
    In short, this Administration is a fuckin’ joke. On us. They have squandered a majority, they have failed to reinstitute the rule of law or any semblance of ethical conduct, they have rejected any attempts to hold the former administratiuon accountable for known crimes and abuses, they are unable to institute or deliver on the myriad of “changes” they promised, and they have virtually guaranteed that the right will regain the majority, with ease. Their foreign policy team is returning failure after failure, and renewed global hostilities are brewing as a result, as well as heretofor unprecedented global hostilities.
    Those such as Frank, and possibly even Steve to a degree, seem to live in a political bubble, where “success” and “failure” seem to be gauged by political one-upmanship rather than the effect these “successes” or “failures” have on the people alleged to be “represented” by policies, or lack of policies.
    I am no better off under Obama. I really don’t see where the global community is better off under Obama. My lost rights have not been restored. Those criminals in government that betrayed my trust have not been held accountable. The obscene policy of endless war has not been abandoned. They haven’t stopped lying to us. We are still torturing people through rendition. They are still wiping their asses with OUR Constitution. The lobbyists are still fucking us out of our tax dollars. We are still the foremost merchants of the instruments of war and mayhem. They are still illegally spying and evesdropping on civilians. The money merchants are still enjoying governmental protection and bail-outs while the citizen gets fucked out of his job, his pension, his investments, his home, his security, and his future.
    Whats to defend, Frank? What is it, exactly, that justifies your endorsement?

    Reply

  249. susan says:

    Steve, Do you know if Obama pays attention to any of this? I read that he reads Glenn Greenwald; if so, why doesn’t he benefit from Greenwald’s criticism and advice. Greenwald wants Obama to succeed.
    So many smart people are trying to “get through” to Obama, yet he continues to disappoint.
    What’s the deal with HIM?

    Reply

  250. questions says:

    Two further thoughts — one is that having only a few people in the media might be the admin’s way of being like the republicans with their univocal talking points. One cannot assume that 40 dems can speak with one voice, but perhaps a mere 4 can?!
    And the other is that in a campaign, there is only one goal — getting the candidate elected and so it’s pretty easy to let people do things on their own with minimal monitoring. It’s ok to set basic strategic goals about getting people out, seeming inclusive, training younger participants to run meetings, doing all that solidary benefit stuff they talk about in books about interest groups.
    BUT, governing is no longer about a single goal; rather, it’s about hair-splitting, about compromising with other power structures, about constitutional limits, about 100% media focus instead of 1/3 or 1/12 of the focus. It’s also not about solidary benefits anymore. You can’t stick the public option in to make the left happy and then lose the 3 most conservative dem senators and get no legislation through. Yet, this is the position Obama ended up with. His base wanted something that the last few senators didn’t want and would not allow and could easily block. Policy work sucks if you’re an idealogue, politics sucks if you want good policy. There’s a need to accept half measures and a concomitant refusal to do the same.
    ****
    Candidates in campaigns are less threatening to any established way of doing things than are actual politicians. And even there candidate Obama had the Canadian trade deal fiasco to deal with.
    Policy, again, is so much about hair-splitting — just where should rates be is an infinite, just how many people should be covered is a vastness, just what should we do about country X is pretty damned large. Each decision alienates some group of supporters who then post diaries on kos about their disenchantment.
    So, again, I’m not sure that style is the issue as much as structure is. I’m guessing that the style they’ve adopted is a response to the structure they’ve encountered, and I’m guessing that the structure won’t change, so if the style does, it’s not necessarily going to help.
    But I definitely have some food for thought! So thanks!

    Reply

  251. Dan Kervick says:

    “It’s because that article backs up everything 100
    different people in power in Washington have
    already told Steve dozens of times over.”
    Sure. But when *hasn’t* it been the case that established Washington society is united in it’s disdain for the new kids on the block? We need something more than the usual gossip and griping.

    Reply

  252. Steven Clemons says:

    Fascinating comments above from all….and thanks John for your
    note about what lies behind this article. John is completely right
    of course that the issues Edward Luce and I are trying to surface
    are well known among many in and around the White House
    establishment. Rahm is brilliant on many fronts — I just want to
    make that clear. I think he should be in the House leadership
    making things in the Congress work — sort of the Dem Tom
    DeLay if you will. But that aside, there does seem to be an
    absence of the wise old sage in the circle who could help Obama
    achieve strategic leaps…wait, that was supposed to be Paul
    Volcker who was sidelined by Summers and Rahm Emanuel until
    Obama was really frustrated after the Massachusetts Senate loss.
    Dan Kervick is partially right that one of the key nodes of power
    to worry about is on the econ side. I mention this tangentially in
    the note above — but I have written so often about that side of
    the equation that Dan knows I agree with him.
    There is much to chew on – but am glad you folks are doing
    constructive chewing.
    I want to be clear that I want the Obama team to turn around,
    but it can only do so if it has the vision and political guts to do
    so — and that means focusing again on the strategic ends they
    are trying to reach and reassembling the cast to get there.
    Obama should know this — I just hope he does it.
    best, steve clemons

    Reply

  253. WigWag says:

    I think Steve Clemons and Edward Luce are right to focus on the important role played by the Chief of Staff. It may still be too early to write Rahm Emanuel off as ineffective; after all, alot of Presidents have challenging first years in office. Clinton did; George W. Bush was widely viewed as clueless in his first year until 9/11 motivated the American public to give him a new look. Does anyone remember what a horrible first year JFK had?
    With this said, things aren’t looking great for Obama; he needs to right the ship and many Presidents have concluded that changing out their Chief of Staff is a good way to set things going in a more positive direction.
    Things didn’t start to look up for Clinton until he replaced the avuncular but incompetent Mack McClarty with the far more capable Leon Panetta. The Clinton Administration didn’t really hit its stride until the preternaturally talented Erskine Bowles became Chief of Staff. When Bowles took over, Clinton began to exercise a little self-discipline in both his professional and his personal life (the actual Lewinsky affair occurred prior to the appointment of Bowles). Once Bowles took over, things really began to run like clockwork. Bowles was replaced by Podesta who was also good, but not as good as Bowles had been.
    One can only wonder if Nixon would have faced impeachment if his Chief of Staff, H.R. Halderman had been inclined to dissuade Nixon from his illegal and self destructive behavior instead of cheerleading for it. Maybe if Jimmy Carter had selected a more wily Chief of Staff who was more knowledgeable in the ways of Washington than Hamilton Jordan, he wouldn’t have been a one term president.
    Ronald Reagan had more Chiefs of Staff (5 in 8 years) than any President in history. Some were competent (Jim Baker, Howard Baker) and some were disastrous, most notably, Donald Regan. Reagan had one extraordinarily competent chief of staff; the brilliant and capable Ken Duberstein.
    Speaking of Ken Duberstein, amazingly, despite being a life-long Republican (of the now nearly extinct Rockefeller-Republican variety) he actually endorsed Obama after his close friend Colin Powell came out in support of Obama against McCain.
    Duberstein, who makes millions operating a lobbying firm (“The Duberstein Group) along with uber-Democrat Mike Berman, is well respected on both sides of the aisle. He’s smart, capable and suave. When it comes to Washington, D.C. and politics, there’s nothing Duberstein doesn’t know. He has as good or maybe better intuition about how to get things done than almost anyone you can think of.
    I don’t know what Duberstein’s take on foreign policy is (or even if he has a take on it) but he does remind me of the type of Republican that Steve Clemons, Richard Lugar, Colin Powell and Susan Rockefeller are. While he’s associated with the pragmatic and more moderate wing of the Republican Party, he has bona fides with the more hysterical factions of the Party because of his service to Ronald Reagan (although these are probably frayed as a result of his endorsement of Obama). As for the Democrats, I bet that Duberstein has far more Democratic friends than Republican friends.
    If Obama decides to shake things up by granting Rahm early retirement, my vote would be for him to do something bold. He should ask Ken Duberstein to be his next Chief of Staff. If Duberstein says “no”, Obama should call Powell and have him talk Duberstein into it.
    One other thing; Presidents often do exactly what Obama did; hire their most important advisors from their own town. Just like the “go-team” for Obama mostly come from Chicago; Jimmy Carter hired many of his key advisors from Georgia; it wasn’t just Hamilton Jordan, it was Jody Powell and Bert Lance. They all did a terrible job, but most of the blame for Carter’s failures belongs exclusively to Carter. On the other hand many of the key players that Franklin Roosevelt hired to run the “New Deal” came from New York; they did an extraordinarily job. Lyndon Johnson also relied on Texans to play a key role after he replaced Kennedy.
    Of course, at the end of the day, it’s not about the Chief of Staff or the other advisors, it’s about the President. But there hasn’t been another President in modern times more inexperienced than Obama. Inevitably he is more dependant on his advisors than a more experienced leader would be.
    This makes it even more important that Obama surround himself with competent people.
    Has Obama done that?
    While the jury is still out; so far it doesn’t look good.

    Reply

  254. Dan Kervick says:

    This all sounds like a very conventional and unsurprising story: The new kid arrives in DC, along with his posse from Arkansas, Texas or Chicago. Kid plus posse then run smack into the towering wall of egos and entrenched political machinery of the beltway. And wouldn’t you know it, before long the old guard is griping about their lack of access, their travel arrangements, the proximity of their offices to the Head Man, the positions of their cars in the motorcade, and the alleged arrogance of the new young minnows who refuse to understand and accept their appointed positions in the divinely ordained food chain.
    In any case, the Clemons-Luce account seems to miss the mark on identifying the central power-policy axis of the administration. Geithner and Summers appear to be running the overall long-term economic policy for this administration, and since every other major policy issue rotates around that central axis – from health care, to jobs, to financial reform, to energy and climate, to defense budgets, to the Middle East and to China – Geithner and Summers are effectively directing the course of the administration. If the administration ends up going seriously wrong, they are the guys – along with Obama of course – who will bear the bulk of the responsibility. And Geithner and Summers are not part of the Chicago team. Nope – Cambridge and Wall Street, same as it ever was.
    While Emanuel is clearly in violation of the “no assholes” policy, and is someone I probably wouldn’t mind seeing hit by a runaway snowplow during the snowpocalyse dig-out, his comment about Daschle was 100% correct, Steve, and I think your prickly defensiveness on behalf of all your old friends in the “Daschle franchise” is getting the best of you. Daschle isn’t the majority leader anymore, and was never such a big wheel among Democrats to begin with.
    And of course Podesta must be miffed about many things. To hear Podesta talk, he and his network of people, policy, money and lobbyists ARE the Democratic party. No doubt he thinks he should be running even more than he is now, and expected to have the whole damn town by the neck when he thought, back in 2006 and 2007, that the Clinton restoration was coming.
    The administration’s policies disappoint me personally, since my political and ideological outlook is clearly out of step with theirs. But viewed in the middle-of-the-road, mainstream liberal terms that dominates our media, I suspect they will not be viewed as failing. As the economy continues to bounce back during 2010, and it is, the dominant media wisdom will morph into a tale of Obama’s steely Odysseus-like resolve in resisting the siren call of a second stimulus, and in avoiding the even more massive deficits it would have entailed.
    I’m not surprised to learn that Valerie Jarrett stiffed Arab-Americans, and high-tailed it out of their annual dinner before too many pictures could be snapped. But that’s a dog-bites-man story as far as DC politics is concerned. The Obama administration’s decision to stop making waves and get with the DC-approved Middle East program has probably succeeded in buying them some positive media coverage for 2010.

    Reply

  255. John Aravosis says:

    Frank,
    I know Steve. He knows an absurd number of
    important people in Washington, DC. More
    important people than I will likely know in a
    lifetime (and Steve is probably only a few years
    older than me). What people who pull the “you’re
    a Washington insider” card don’t realize is that,
    you’re right, we are. And it means we know a lot
    of people, and they talk to us, and tell us what’s
    going on. I won’t speak for Steve… oh what the
    hell, I will. I know Steve. If Steve is writing this,
    it’s not because he read a single newspaper
    article that pulled the wool over his eyes. It’s
    because that article backs up everything 100
    different people in power in Washington have
    already told Steve dozens of times over. He’s not
    falling for anonymous sources in one newspaper
    article – he’s simply not telling you the names of
    the scores of people who have already confirmed
    the story for him as fact, in person.
    JOHN

    Reply

  256. Linda says:

    I’ve only read half of this blog, and none of the comments above, but I think I’ll still have the same comment:
    Time to hire David Gergen!

    Reply

  257. Steven Clemons says:

    questions — there are some issues and speed bumps that David
    Plouffe skips — like the firing of Muslim advisor Mazen Asbahi and
    Middle East advisor Rob Malley — but on the whole, Plouffe makes
    a case for the primacy of strategic goals, of trust building among
    the staff, and of doing what it took to make sure that the strategic
    objectives were driving everything else. This is thus far an
    administration that seems reactive, ad hoc, and easily moved one
    way or another in short term tactical considerations. But I found it
    a very useful book to understand how the Obama team saw the
    secrets of its success.
    also i too want the obama administration to succeed…but it needs
    to change course in order to do so.
    all best, steve

    Reply

  258. questions says:

    By the way, “I read David Plouffe’s book carefully” — I am in the middle of it and I fondly refer to it as “David Fluff’s book” because in it, no one does anything wrong and when they do something wrong the wrong is so right as to have been the right wrong thing to do (if that makes sense!)

    Reply

  259. questions says:

    Really interesting inside baseball, but a few things I wonder about….
    The major issue dominating the start of the admin was the financial collapse of the known universe. Perhaps that issue, and the contention that arose around it, started a kind of besieged mentality that required the circling of wagons.
    It may be that organizationally, it’s pretty hard to have one kind of working group structure for one issue and a different structure for the next, and yet that’s been what’s been called for.
    Financial collapse needed immediate care, health care needed collaboration. The left has been rigid and uncompromising, the right has been rigid and uncompromising — where do you turn? In and unto yourself. Both kinds of work, the immediate and the collaborative caused huge fights throughout the dem base.
    The problems Obama has run into may be unmanageable through mere management style changes and that is a worrisome issue. If the problems he has are structural, we can be assured that the structures aren’t going to change.
    I tend to think it was smart to buy off Harry and Louise, smart to make deals in Congress to get halfway measures through, but the critics on the left so hate halfway measures that they lost it and even stayed home in MA.
    I also tend to think that this new tone of vague populism is going to be a disaster because it will incite foolish hopes of satisfaction for views that simply cannot be satisfied. The Supreme Court decision criticism was basically wrong, and we’ll see how the beginning of the end of DADT plays out in the next election. Some repubs seem to be refusing the demagoguery, but what a tempting target it’ll be come Oct and Nov. We may live to regret even this small step in the right direction. (PA now will consider adding a gay marriage ban to its constitution — the end of DADT might give fuel to that one as well….)
    Most people simply can’t be pleased with policy. That’s an inherent structure, and it may be what motivates Rahm Emanuel to be utterly impolitic in his utterances. He’s right that overdemanding in a pluralistic system is a bad tactic. One takes what one can, fights for a couple of really massive things every few generations, waits for the culture to catch up. Patience in the face of injustice is both awful and necessary as the definition of “injustice” shifts over time.
    So I guess my takeaway is that another style would have had problems as well. Clinton failed in health care, lost control of Congress, but had some luck on his side, sort of. And then he ushered in 8 years of Bush. Trying to figure out how to measure success and failure of policy is an impossible task, because it varies based on when you draw timelines.
    Machiavelli reminds us that somewhere around 50% of a prince’s well-being is Lady Fortuna, the rest skill/virtu. She might be attracted to a bold leader who demonstrates virtu, but she can dash him on the rocks as well. So even if the admin was fully in possession of virtu the sad fact of the world is Captain Underpants, the health care mess, the financial crisis, Fox News, Swine Flu, snow storms, recalcitrant nations around the world…. It’s not management, it’s the ill-fortune to have become a prince in this world.
    Were the Cabinet members to try to be on TV, think what would happen to them. Chu said something early on about how difficult it was to start being on TV and watching what he was saying. Policy expertise is not TV/political skill. Chu, who, we all know, knows a huge amount about energy and physics and what’s possible in the universe, is reduced to saying “paint your roof white” on Jon Stewart. There’s far more to energy policy than that, and most of it will not play well in people’s daily lives. But even this small gesture runs right into the global climate change deniers, the neighborhood associations for whom white or light roofs are toxic, and so became controversial. So what do you do with the Cabinet at this point? Expertise is mocked by know-nothings, and “my kid beat up your honor student” is proudly displayed on a lot of bumpers. Well, Chu is an honor student, and Fox is the kid who beat him up.
    We don’t really want policy expertise if that expertise comes across as knowing anything. So keep the expertise off TV and put pugnacious cursing curs up. We like that, at least sometimes we do.
    At any rate, I wish the admin well since they seem to have a fair amount of control over how I live.

    Reply

  260. ... says:

    last line in the article to which i agree with..
    “I don’t think President Obama wants to make any changes.”

    Reply

  261. Steven Clemons says:

    Thanks for playing Frank. Glad you see it differently and
    honestly hope that you are right in the long run, though i don’t
    see it. The Obama team has lost on jobs in my view, lost the
    momentum on serious infrastructure investment, bungled
    Israel/Palestine negotiations which were a fundamental building
    block in changing Middle East dynamics to help contain Iran in
    parts. China-US relations are now messy. Climate change
    remediation is on crutches. I read David Plouffe’s book very
    carefully — and this administration is the antithesis of the
    culture he describes… You have your views — and I have mine,
    and I’ll stick with my record, which was right on Biden vs. Bayh,
    right on Hillary Clinton becoming Sec of State, right on the
    administration’s dysfunctional gaming on economic policy,
    so….let’s hope you are right. But given the Luce piece and given
    my own interactions with serious players inside the
    administration who are handicapped by these four, I will stand
    my ground.
    all best, steve clemons

    Reply

  262. Frank C. says:

    Steve, disagree with your analysis, vehemently. This piece is full of silly DC village hearsay and speculation about personalities. This IS “vapid chatter” itself, hardly a condemnation.
    Thereforet is *you* who is in the bubble. And Mark Schmitt would agree, if you were reading him regularly and if you hold him up as an example of someone who gets the game; he takes the long view as well.
    For example, if unemployment stays below 10%, everyone will be clamoring about the Obama “comeback.” If Ted Kennedy doesn’t die, Obama would be the genius who threaded the needle on health care reform. That’s politics. This hand-wringing is premature and hyperbolic.
    That’s the admin’s macro political situation. Now, as for the question of actual progress and legislation, what in the heck do you expect? FDR-like levels of revolution when unemployment is a fraction of what it was then? And at a time when regulatory capture was obvious and has been for 30 years?
    As for Obama’s “Chicago” team, governing IS a campaign. You are writing the ending of the play when the first act is only half over.
    You really, really drop down below your usual levels of wisdom when you discuss pure politics. It’s strange to me.

    Reply

  263. susan says:

    Agree very much with this analysis Steve-the writing is on the wall
    for Obama and I think that he and the principals you mention are
    ensconced in their “bubble” and out of touch with the reality of the
    situation.
    I can’t seem to shake the idea that we’d be in a very different place
    right now if Hillary Clinton was president. Not that I agree with her
    on everything, but I think that her style would have been vastly
    different, on everything from the approach to HCR to dealing with
    Republican obstructionism.
    Obama could have been another FDR, or JFK, using his rhetorical
    gifts and the promise of change to get stuff done. the Rs wanted to
    turn him into Jimmy Carter, but Obama doesn’t need their help-
    he’s going down that path full steam ahead.

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *