Obama's New World

In the broad arc of Barack Obama’s political career this is a new world. Among the unfamiliar factors that he must deal with: insurrection from the Clinton/labor wing of the party; requests for help from at risk supporters; and a growing capacity for criticism in the media. And that was before the major Spring economic slowdown and the Wisconsin wipe-out.

Most importantly, there is a recognition among the Democratic political class that it is not good for them to be attached to Obama’s anti-business stance. First there was Newark Mayor Corey Booker who found Obama’s attacks on Bain Capital to be “nauseating”; then basic support for Booker’s criticism by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and former “car czar” and MSNBC commentator Steve Rattner; and finally former President Bill Clinton’s declaration that Mitt Romney’s record at Bain Capital was “superb”.  While weak “contextualizations” followed, it is obvious that it is OK to stray off of the reservation and undercut one of President Obama’s few potential campaign themes.  It is just possible that Clinton harbors some resentment for Obama’s criticism of “economic policies of the last few decades.”

A corrolary: there is no “you help me and I’ll help you”. For Obama it is all about Obama.  Elizabeth Warren, who organized his consumer protection efforts did not get the opportunity to run the department because Obama did not want to fight for her; now she on her own against Scott Brown in Massachusetts who is doing remarkably well among Obama voters.  And labor’s 15 month jihad against Scott Walker in Wisconsin? Not worth a drop-by on the weekend before the recall election even though Obama was campaigning for himself in Minnesota and Chicago. What does this say about giving your all for Obama who will be a lame duck in five months?

And now Maureen Dowd, lamenting the wandering administration and campaign: “The president who started off with such dazzle now seems incapable of stimulating either the economy or the voters.” (This is undoubtedly the first time that I have quoted the queen of liberal snark.)  Far Left supporters like Medea Benjamin have started open criticism of Obama’s weekly “Kill List” review of terrorists to be target for drone attacks. It may be just me, but it seems as if Politico and ABC have decided that their futures are best served by a rediscovered balance.

More than the specifics, the question is whether Axelrod and company can restore the discipline needed for a campaign against a formidable, centrist Republican whose party has already gone through its convulsions and come out with everybody except Ron Paul focused on beating the socialist president.  Mainstream Democrats – and a few reporters –  seem to understand that it will take more that some good speeches and populist rhetoric, and that some “leading from in front” will be needed. For David Axelrod that must be a greater concern than the future of the Service Employees International Union.


This week’s video is a ” Values” advertisement by  Committed Catholics to Win (cc2w.org). Romney support will not come only from the Koch Brothers and American Crossroads.