Posted from The Citrus Report
This was a good Sunday morning read today. New York Times Sunday Magazine had a long piece on what you see above: Is President Obama the Democrat-In-Chief? The thesis is that Obama doesn’t really care too much about the Democrat party, or leading the party, and the mid-term elections reflect this.
A little excerpt:
Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland congressman in charge of House campaigns this fall, and James Clyburn, the Democratic whip and an Obama ally, complained to Axelrod about the president’s unrelenting assault on Washington rather than on Republicans specifically, according to three people who were in the room. “A ‘Washington is broken’ message doesn’t help incumbents running for Congress,” Van Hollen pleaded with the aides.
Axelrod said the House leaders needed to listen to what the president was actually saying out there — Obama was, in fact, drawing sharp contrasts between his party and the Republicans. But Axelrod also informed them that the president would continue to acknowledge the general discontent with Washington in his public comments, in the hope that he might help lessen what White House aides sometimes call the “toxicity” in the air. He would make the case for Democrats by reminding voters of all that he and his party had been able to accomplish legislatively, even without Republican help. Washington was broken, and if you told people what you were doing to fix it, then they would side with you. “You’re not going to will it away — the discontent,” Axelrod said. “The most important message is that we took on difficult problems, and they sat on the sidelines and rooted for failure.”
This didn’t satisfy the Congressional leaders, who thought the message had to be more about their “fighting for the middle class” versus the indifference of Republicans. They wanted Obama to go out there and tell the public that installing a Republican Congress would be like climbing into a time machine and teleporting right back to the Bush era. Privatizing Social Security, ending Medicare, repealing the health care law and reinstating tax cuts for the wealthy — that’s what the Republicans were proposing, and the lawmakers said they needed Obama to drive that point home with the electorate.
Voices rose and drowned out other voices as the meeting grew tense. “The fact is,” Pelosi said, addressing herself to Axelrod, “that the longer you say Washington is broken, and you’ve been saying that for 18 months, the more that becomes the story.”