Archive for Monday, August 22, 2011

Election is, always will be about Obama

August 22, 2011


— It is in the nature of politics and of New Hampshire that things should heat up just as they cool down.

Now the days are shorter, the evenings cooler, especially here in what is known as the Great North Woods. But the stakes are growing, the debates becoming hotter. There’s a new wrangler in the race, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, and he’s the talk of many of the towns — the great hope for some, the great worry for others. And if you’re just an observer, you can conclude that in the great scheme of things he is a great American character one way or the other.

Already he has fulfilled every fear and hope, widening the definition of treason, thinking out loud about the fault lines in the global-climate debate, crowding others off the stage and, with the help of Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, out of the Republican race. It remains to be seen whether this political cycle will be the GOP’s to claim, but right now the Republicans are dominating the conversation. They have the passion and the sense of purpose. This summer their creed is ripped straight from Bismarck: “If there is to be a revolution, we would rather make it than suffer it.”

The miracle of the season isn’t that the Republicans are making a revolution, but that President Barack Obama is in the role of defender of the old order. He thought of himself as the man who, to crib yet another line from Bismarck, might not be able to see “God’s cards” but could at least “see where the Lord wishes to go” and “stumble after him.”

Instead, the president has merely stumbled, and how he went from the leader of the crowd outside the Bastille to the personification of the ancien regime is one of the great mysteries of the age. Indeed, his determination, offered last week, to try to recapture the offensive with a September speech only underlines the urgency that is gripping the Obama camp.

So even though all the talk right now is of Perry and Bachmann (and let’s not forget former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, still the putative front-runner), the election is and always will be about Obama.

He’s not doing well by any reasonable and conventional measure — and that’s without considering the peculiar challenge he faces due to the erosion of electoral votes in states he took in 2008 but which, because of population changes, would provide a smaller payout in 2012.

Presidents have limped toward re-election fights before and prevailed. Harry Truman did that in 1948 against greater odds than Obama faced; who thought the Democrats could win a fifth consecutive race with the party split so badly?

The better example might be the Obama hero, Abraham Lincoln, who was no sure bet for re-election in 1864, with the Civil War still grinding on, vital questions about slavery still unresolved, and a former general running as a peace candidate for the Democrats. Truman and Lincoln became emblems for their respective parties by staying the course, an old political phrase revived by Ronald Reagan, who didn’t look like a cinch for re-election either at this stage of the 1984 campaign but who nonetheless won 49 states.

But many embattled presidents don’t make it to that second term. Two recent examples are telling. The one that makes Democrats cringe is Jimmy Carter, who lost to Reagan in 1980 in an economic environment (deficits every year, frightening energy prices, high unemployment) that is arguably less severe than the one Obama presides over. The one that gives Democrats pause is George H.W. Bush, who was defeated by Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas as the deficit soared. Today the elder Bush, his health faltering but his uncommon chivalry still robust, is a bit of a bipartisan hero, and yet he left the White House after only four years.

Obama faces another challenge, perhaps the most ironic one of all. Since the Reagan years, passion has become an important element of American politics. Reagan was passionate about America; Clinton was passionate about changing the direction of both the Democratic Party and the nation; George W. Bush was passionate about revenge and security after the terrorist attacks of 2001 gave his administration and life new purpose and meaning.

Obama was passionate in the 2008 campaign, and anyone who was in a room or hall with him was rendered passionate by his performance. As president he has shown grace and intelligence, but he’s leaned toward the precise and away from the passionate, and it’s a strain to recall even a sentence he has uttered in the White House that can match Oscar Wilde’s goal of having “struck one chord to reach the ear of God.”

That’s why the ear of politicos twitched with fascination when, just the other day, Perry said, “I get a little bit passionate,” adding, “I think you want a president who is passionate about America — that’s in love with America.”

That one phrase may have been the most meaningful yet uttered in Campaign 2012, for it was a swipe at Obama’s cool demeanor even as it raised questions, so congenial to the hearts of conservatives and so galling to liberals, about whether the president isn’t more a critic of America than a defender of America.

Ironically, the Perry offensive has pushed Romney into the space that is also occupied by Obama: the cool operator acceptable to the old guard and to the very big money mandarins who are the personification of tea party resentments. Romney is no paladin of passion either — his best line from 2008 was when he playfully quoted his wife as saying that he wasn’t in her wildest dreams — and that could be a problem, both in his political profile and in his performance here and in Iowa.

A Gallup International poll taken this month shows the former governor with less “positive intensity,” which is a statistical concept but also part of the definition of a successful modern candidate. Bachmann and Perry lead the polls in passion. Romney leads the pack in money. The question this year, not only for Romney but for Obama as well, is whether money can buy you love. And whether passion counts.

— David Shribman is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

What a load of crap. The media is a big part of the problem.

What is really going on?

The trouble with elected officials they go to the CEO"s of any industry and developers for advice!!!! too often!!!! Then the elected officials walk away still uninformed.

One answer to problems such as this: CUT OFF special interest financing of elections! YES even at the local level.

Our government is always claiming the USA is about democracy. In that case allow the citizens to practice democracy by allowing citizens to vote on these issues in 2012:

Let's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : Demand a change on the next ballot.

Let's have public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue.

Bribery of elected officials is the most stinky of all bribery!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

The bottom line is these campaigns 1. start too damn early 2. offer no substance 3. spend wayyyyyyyyy too much Koch,Wal-Mart,Exxon-Mobil and all other corporate money sources in the billions. 4. Provide no plans for long term employment 5. Say nothing new day after day after day after day 6. Some of these people are elected officials who are spending a ton of time away from their jobs and spend a ton of time begging for MORE special interest money to which they become beholden. 7. Since when did we hire elected officials on any side of the aisle to do any of the above?

Where is the investigative press? Is there one anywhere?

cato_the_elder 6 years, 9 months ago

And as snap points out later, that's by no means the only one on the list.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 9 months ago

The headline: "Election is, always will be about Obama."

Yes, unless the Dems wake up and nominate Hillary.

cato_the_elder 6 years, 9 months ago

"That’s why the ear of politicos twitched with fascination when, just the other day, Perry said, “I get a little bit passionate,” adding, “I think you want a president who is passionate about America — that’s in love with America.”

That one phrase may have been the most meaningful yet uttered in Campaign 2012, for it was a swipe at Obama’s cool demeanor even as it raised questions, so congenial to the hearts of conservatives and so galling to liberals, about whether the president isn’t more a critic of America than a defender of America."

Which is precisely why the Dems should wake up and nominate Hillary.

HillaryForPresident 6 years, 9 months ago

"Which is precisely why the Dems should wake up and nominate Hillary"

Here here.

It was Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power that pressed for the "Kinetic Military Action" against Libya and should bear the fruits of the collapse of it's governemnt.

Hillary 2012

Crazy_Larry 6 years, 9 months ago

The last thing this country needs is another NWO stooge at the helm who's bought and paid for by big business and Wall Street.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

New blog post up: which is surprisingly appropriate to this as I posted it before I saw this article.

jayhawxrok 6 years, 9 months ago

It's not about Obama, it's about America, the writer is deluded. Contrary to the constant opposition for opposition's sake instead of legislation brought by the GOP, Obama did roll up his sleeves and try to get things done. I'm more disgusted that the GOP hasn't once put country before party and that has spoken volumes to a lot of voters.

Paul R Getto 6 years, 9 months ago

Buckle up, folks. It's gonna be a wild ride.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 9 months ago

merrill pretty much described how the current resident of 1600 Penn Ave. got himself elected.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

Wow. Snap just recognized that Obama was elected.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 9 months ago

As disappointing as Obama has been, all it takes is a cursory glance at the Republican alternatives to see that we could do worse-- much worse. And closer inspection of any of them is even scarier.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

Well, just for fun, check out the changes that Rick Perry would make to the Constitution.

They are by no means in the direction of more power for the people.

Or aligned with the founders' idea of checks and balances between the branches of government.

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

The EPA is operating as it is supposed to operate - its mission is to protect the environment.

That's why it's called the Environmental Protection Agency.

As to the rest of your post, without any examples, it's hard to know what you're trying to say. If you're referring to the Affordable Care Act's mandate to buy health insurance, we'll see what the SC says.

I tend to agree that it's an overly broad interpretation of the ICC to use it to justify that sort of thing.

And, what do you think of Perry's proposals?

jafs 6 years, 9 months ago

"Anything but Hillary" didn't work out so well for you guys last time around.

I'd rethink that sort of thinking if I were you.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 9 months ago

Ahh yes the lovely repub history that repub candidates never discuss yet repeats itself no matter what which does include Nixon's Watergate and Reagan/Bush secret weapons deal working with Iran as a partner can we say Iran Contra.

Introducing the colorful RINO Plaftorm Written In Stone:

The RINO party has a long history of economic destruction and crime to include Iran-Contra and Watergate. Like or not a consistent and disturbing pattern has developed by their choosing.

STOP electing RINO’s ! My My father in law left the RINO party because he is a fiscal conservative republican with at least 50 years under his belt. Evermore stunning he is working with the democrat party in Pennsylvania.

After spending so so many decades in Washington D.C on tax dollar payrolls RINO’s are sure they learned all they needed to know about OUR money and founding reckless economies. RINO’s have much reckless economics experience under their belts that they never quit sharing.

Introducing the RINO Plaftorm Written In Stone:

  1. TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros sells out state governments

  2. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion)

  3. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers under Bush/Cheney sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many $$$ trillions and millions of jobs.

  4. ONLY 3 financial institutions instead of several were at risk so why $700 billion in bail out money?

Tax cuts which do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs.

  1. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class

In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

How much can Perry love his country if he is ready to have the state he governs disban from the Union? How passionate for the United States can someone be if they aren't into the whole "united" part to begin with?

I'm torn to pick a favorite line from the campaign so far. Mitt Romney's saying "corporations are people" is classic. I understand what he was trying to say, but the way he said it just screams "I'm a Republican and I love corporations!"

However, my favorite line so far is Bachman's saying "Happy Birthday Elvis!" on the anniversary of his death. Oh, that was funny. Even better than her mistaking actor John Wayne with killer John Wayne Gacy. These aren't just "57 states" slips of the tongue. This is having one's facts incorrect and running with them in an attempt to pander to an assembled audience. Why one person in the crowd didn't yell out "It isn't his birthday!" is beyond me.

jaywalker 6 years, 9 months ago

"These aren't just "57 states" slips of the tongue. "

They're not?

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

No, they are not. It is one thing to mix up one's words -- we have all done that, saying one thing when in your head you know what you really intended to say. Jay, certainly you do not and can not believe that Obama actually thought there were 57 states. It was a slip of the tongue. However, it is something completely different to have facts wrong, especially on trivial matters that are only being said as a means of pandering to a collective audience. Claiming "John Wayne lived here" when it was John Wayne Gacy, or "Happy Birthday Elvis" when it was the anniversary of Elvis's death, isn't just a mixing up of words. Those are examples of having the facts wrong, and they aren't the only examples from Bachmann.

jaywalker 6 years, 9 months ago

Point taken. But you are admitting these are "trivial" instances, which they certainly are. Considering the unending public speaking our officials take part in, I'm bettin' NOBODY always get's their facts correct. For example, a four word key search brought up:

Now THAT'S pandering, but it's hardly a surprise or scandalous. Like I said, these people are thrust in front of microphones all day long and quite often with little to no prep time and a thousand other things running through their heads. These things are gonna happen to 'em all.

jayhawklawrence 6 years, 9 months ago

Now that Libya is settling down they cannot attack Obama on that.

There are no current oil spills in the Gulf...

Bin Laden is dead...


People are going to get bored with the Republicans if they don't come up with fresh material.

beatrice 6 years, 9 months ago

"It's not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

What is false about this statement? It isn't pretty, but it isn't false either.

weeslicket 6 years, 9 months ago

interesting editorial. however, any election is always about the choice between two (or more) candidates.

Nellane Laney Croan Stussie 6 years, 9 months ago

Obama is in trouble ... he has no more money to give away to the minority community and his second term will have to concentrate on amnesty for illegals if the Dems hope to hold power anytimne in the next 20 years!

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