Aug 1, 2011

Obama's [Community-Organizer/Let's All Work Together?] Style: Leading from the Rear While Surrendering the Narrative to the GOP

Update, Aug. 2nd: Jon Stewart: "You're not pinning this turd on us..."

The manufactured crisis of the debt ceiling theater is coming to a close, though the damage will last a long time. Even if the US averted default on its obligations, its credibility has taken a hit. Progressives think that Obama was diminished by this process, and his popularity is also decreasing. Even though the majority of Americans like him, and are more in favor of his proposals than those of the GOP, he's considered a weak leader. Remember, the country has shown that it prefers a strong, effective leader even if he's wrong, to a weak leader even if he's right on the issues! 

Maybe Obama is gambling on the possibility the Republicans will nominate someone worse to run against him next year. The economy won't be much better before the next election, because this president failed to take action and the GOP has done everything it could to damage it.

Read Paul Krugman's "The President Surrenders" editorial.

Here's something to remember: One of the biggest differences between progressives and the American conservatives is that we want an active government to mitigate social darwinism the Republicans are in favor of. 

Every time there's a failure of government, the cons win points! They seem to be winning the narrative on this one too. They come into government with an intent of making the government worse! They create deficits, slush social services, and remove consumer protections. They love gridlock, because this increases the public's cynicism of their government!  Sadly, the person with the bigger, loudest megaphone is not disputing this narrative!

I'm with Senator Bernie Sanders on the need to issue a serious primary challenge to Obama. Not the Nader type, or a preacher, or some leftist fringe, but a good, sensible progressive like Feingold. I'm sure Obama will prevail but he will have to understand that there's an activist base out there and elections (especially close one) depend on getting the base excited and to the polls. Besides, we have to publicly discuss a few important issues. 

I argue that the narrative is extremely important in shaping our political discourse. Most Americans support progressive positions but it's the conservative narrative that often prevails. The more we spend time discussing the ridiculous [or, the artificial crisis of the debt ceiling] the more time, energy, and money we're wasting, instead of tackling serious problems.

There are going to be lots of polls following this manufactured crisis. As of now, the public blames the GOP more, but Obama's ratings are looking more and more Bush-like.

Here's a snapshot of public opinion: 

Q: If negotiations between President Obama and Congressional Republicans on the federal debt ceiling fail, and it leads to an economic crisis, would you place more blame on the President or on Congressional Republicans, or would you blame both equally?  
President Obama: 35
Congressional Republicans: 46
Both equally: 18
Not sure: 1

Here's a slew of numbers from DK/SEIU weekly poll.

This president hasn't learned yet that he can't trust this Republican party. When asked back in December--when he caved in regarding the Bush tax breaks to the super rich--why he didn't make the looming debt ceiling part of the deal, he said the Republicans would do the responsible thing when needed. Great call, Mr. president. Maybe you forgot how they negotiated on health care reform.... Tsk.