10.24.2010

'Obama vs. the loonies'

“The public is a savage animal when you disturb its deeper beliefs and awaken its fears. There is no purpose whatever in trying to reason with it, explain what you can do and what you cannot, tell them how difficult it is. All they want is results. They do not care how you obtain them. They don’t want to know the details or the costs.” – Farrier’s Lane, Anne Perry, 1993.

***

“I’m all for idealism, but only to a point, When it becomes divorced from reality, it ceases to be any use and becomes an incumbrance.” – Traitor’s Gate, Anne Perry, 1995

I believe these two quotes. I am a realist, who at times, I’m sure, has pissed off the idealists in my Party.

I am watching the pre-election polls and am often met with the mantra, “I don’t pay attention to polls.” Well, why not? They check the political pulse of the nation, and right now the pulse of the Democratic Party is pretty weak.

Three days ago, I read an assessment of all the important races across the U.S., written by Mark Preston, CNN’s senior political editor. Its doomsday headline: “Democrats prepare for the worst.” Whether his predicted looming Democratic defeat is a media-generated reality will soon become clear.

This morning in a semi-serendipity moment I stumbled across an analysis on the liberal Reader Supported News, written by POLITICO’s chief political columnist, Roger Simon. Its title, “Obama vs. the loonies” caught my eye. Is this really what it’s come down to in one of the most important mid-term elections facing our country?

As a realist I agree with Mr. Simon’s analysis of “what went wrong?” if the Republicans once more gain control of the House and possibly the Senate.

Stay with it.

Obama vs. the loonies

By: Roger Simon, POLITICO
October 19, 2010

First fix the problem, and then fix the blame. So say the Japanese. But you know what? This ain’t Japan.

We play the blame game here, and we play it early and often. It is now generally recognized that two weeks from now, Democrats will suffer a disaster at the polls.

I know no member of Team Obama who truly believes Democrats will hold onto the House of Representatives. The only question is whether the defeat will be moderate and manageable or a calamity of biblical proportions.

So far, the smart money is on biblical. But why? Upon whom do we fix the blame?

There is President Barack Obama, of course. While his name will not be on the ballot, it is on everybody’s lips. He should have done more and better things in his first two years, Democrats say. Or at least he should have sold his accomplishments better.

The president does not entirely disagree. He told Peter Baker of The New York Times that it is not enough to do good things for the country; you also “can’t be neglecting ... marketing and PR and public opinion.”

He knew he was going to have trouble with this. Everyone close to him knew he was going to have trouble. I have described it before. In February 2007, about a week before he announced for the presidency, he attended a “cattle call” in a suburban hotel outside Washington for potential Democratic candidates. The room was packed to bursting with pols and press, and those locked out by the fire marshal pounded on the doors. Back then, Democrats had the enthusiasm and Republicans had the gap.

When Obama’s turn to speak came, he looked out at the room and said: “You know, if you look at all the cameras gathered around and the clicking of the photographers, the pundits who are collected, sometimes you feel like you are part of a reality TV show. I feel like this is ‘American Idol’ or ‘Survivor,’ and you’ve got to figure out if you’re going to go to Hollywood or you’re going to be voted off the island. But that’s not why I’m here.”

He has not changed. He has little patience with the “inevitable theatrics of Washington,” says Valerie Jarrett, his senior adviser.

But theatrics are how a president sells himself and his policies, and if he fails to master those theatrics, or finds those theatrics too demeaning, then he and his party really will be voted off the island. And quickly.

The issue is not just how Obama has stage-managed his achievements, however. Some in his party’s left wing have abandoned him because he would not fight for the public health care option and has not closed Guantanamo Bay.

And then there are the mainstream Democrats who are merely weary. Velma Hart, a solid, middle-class Democratic voter, stood up at a town hall in September and said she was “exhausted” by defending Obama and his administration. A few weeks later, Gov. Ed Rendell, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said, “A tepid vote counts the same as a wildly enthusiastic vote.” Which is true, but it is a whole lot easier to get a wildly enthusiastic voter than a tepid voter to the polling place.

But even if Obama had pleased his entire party, that still would have left Republicans, the tea partiers and the wackos.

How can one blame Obama for the shocking numbers of people who erroneously believe he is a Muslim or was not born in the United States or is a socialist-communist-fascist (take your pick or take all three)?

Nobody in the White House, including Obama, expected the degree of sheer hatred that has been directed against him. They knew Obama’s approval ratings would fall — how could they not when, in his first 100 days in office, he hit 69 percent, the highest approval rating for any president at that point in 20 years?

But tensions, fears and suspicions bubbled just beneath the surface. Certain facts had been overlooked in the wave of pride and good feeling that followed Obama’s election. While Obama had won the popular vote by a solid 7 percentage points, he had lost the white vote by a landslide, 12 percentage points. And when he made a world tour, in which his messianic image got amplified and his halo got polished by huge and adoring crowds, the clouds back home began to gather.

He cannot be blamed for the demons who demonize him. In a fine story by Sandhya Somashekhar in The Washington Post on Sunday, under the headline “Hope Isn’t What It Used to Be,” a little doozy appeared in the 25th paragraph about how a volunteer was manning the Democratic Party table at the Arkansas State Fair “when a man walks over wearing a green T-shirt that says, ‘Either he dies, or the country dies.’”

Either he dies, or the country dies? Do we really live in a country where a man would go out on the street wearing such a thing? If I had seen it, I think I would have called the Secret Service. (I Googled the phrase to see if I could find the manufacturer of the T-shirt, but I found no hits. Does the person print them up in a basement?)

If Democrats get swamped on Nov. 2, sure, some of it will be the fault of the enthusiasm gap and some of it will be the fault of the president, but some of it will be the fault of those loonies who have crept into American politics like bedbugs and grown bloated on their own hatreds.

***

If this worst case scenario become reality, can we really blame it on the loonies, or is it not more realistic to blame it on those voters - or non-voters - who do not choose to inform themselves of what’s happening right under their noses? I suspect the latter.

11 comments:

Sue said...

I suspect the latter too BJ. But I do not see the tsunami coming, I see a little ripple. The MSM has portrayed the dems as unenthusiastic and I believe that to be grossly exaggerated. All we can do is wait patiently for the election night results. I'm willing to!

B.J. said...

I hope you are right, Sue, about the enthusiasm, but the MSM is only reporting what the polls have indicated for some time. Personally, I’m not at all enthusiastic about my South Carolina choice for U.S. Senate – demented Jim DeMint or a Dem facing porn charges, Alvin Greene.

I will not break with my blogging tradition and will drag out “Tagore’s Prayer” on November 1.

Right now I’ve got to get ready for Chris’ arrival and the afternoon chores. I’ll check in later!

BJ

Infidel753 said...

I am watching the pre-election polls and am often met with the mantra, “I don’t pay attention to polls.” Well, why not?

This really annoys me too. Pollsters use sophisticated techniques to derive accurate data from their samples, and in most cases, actual election results are fairly close to what the majority of polls predicted. Political parties spend millions on polls; they wouldn't do that if they weren't receiving useful information for their money. People who insist on convincing themselves that polls they don't like must be wrong, usually end up getting smacked across the face by reality on election day.

Anyone who expected Obama to push a hard-left agenda is delusional. The man campaigned as a centrist who aspired to bipartisan support. If Democratic voters wanted a fire-breathing fighting liberal, they should have nominated Hillary.

Simon has a point that Obama could have sold his accomplishments better -- even the modest and flawed health-insurance reform he got through was more than any previous President has managed. But the main reasons for the Democrats being in danger are more prosaic and ordinary.

1) The party in power always loses seats in mid-term elections.

2) Unemployment is still high and voters always punish the party in power for that. They don't care that the Republicans caused it; the Democrats have had two years to fix it.

3) The Democrats have the biggest Congressional majority in decades -- and that means they're holding a lot of seats which usually go Republican. Their grip on those is inevitably tenuous.

As for those loonies, they're hurting the Republicans, not helping. The teabaggers who nominated O'Donnell in Delaware threw away a sure Republican victory. Angle and Paul and Miller are struggling in races where a moderate Republican would have won easily. If they lose, they and O'Donnell will have cost the Republicans four Senate seats -- highly significant in the current context. And rogue teabaggers may cost the Republicans as many as twenty House seats (link).

The most recent polls show the Republicans' momentum weakening. Those "loonies" may very well cost them the blow-out win they would otherwise have had.

Papamoka said...

Not that my opinion means anything but I honestly believe that the hype over which party will be in control after the election is more a media made hype than actual reality. Yes, some seats will be lost but the numbers will not be as high as most "Polls" indicate.

Polls can be skewed depending on how the polling is done and who is actually paying for the polling data.

Nice post BJ and love and hugs to you, and Sue. Knuckle bump to ya Infidel! (LOL)

bbj said...

I can't tell you all how much this blog and your comments help me understand what's going on.

I also appreciate your optimism. Keeps me buoyed.

Thank you!

Frodo, countin' noses, said...

Frodo asks that readers consider the media. The broadcast media, in Delaware, emanates from Philadelphia, and therefore the media also services, Delaware. The Philadelphia/Delaware media are reporting that the Republican Senatorial candidate in Delaware has been eating Carmen Miranda's hat. Is it not strange, concomitantly, that Joe Sestak's numbers, in Pennsylvania, have risen to a dead-heat comparability to his Republican opponent? A shame it is that there weren't more races with cross-border broadcast media implications (Alaska, Nevada, California,etc.)

Tiny keepin' faith said...

In Alaska the "write in" Incumbent and Tea Party candidate are in a dead heat.The loonies continue to loose ground. When trying to white wash and explain away their looney remarks, they utter more loonies!

Michael Steele and Sarah Palin were in Florida yesterday stumping for Rubio. But in debate with Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meeks he kept butting in with the Tea Party "raising taxes" BS. He and Crist are in a dead heat, with Meeks (D) running behind. But that may change after today.

Christ (I) was booted by the Rethugs for accepting stimulus money and hugging Obama when he
was in FL, then just patting him on the back when he came after the oil debaucle.

Rethuglicians are swearing that Crist will caucus with the Democrats. Should he be elected, Tiny hopes the Rethugs got that right. (Rubio's company frauded Medicare and had to pay out about $7.2 million.) Dems are still rooting for and sticking with Meeks.

Tiny is keeping her enthusiasm up. When people are told the truth about going backwards, they change their minds real quick.

BJ, thanks for another great post. Vote for porn guy Alvin Green. He may replace Clarence Thomas on SCOTUS someday!

B.J. said...

Almost midnight. Chris and I got a ton of chores done today. He is a tremendous help to me. We might as well have wrestled an alligator, I was wiped out when he left and crashed on the couch. I wish I had a video of the two of us attempting to replace a faulty cord on the phone hooked up to my computer – a dusty, crawling on the floor search through a labyrinth of tangled cords and surge protectors. (Try it blindfolded!) Tenacity can kill you.

Chris is always good for a laugh. He wanted to listen to my current book on tape, “Peter the Great.” I told him, “Chris, right now it’s all about wars.” He shot back, “WHORES?” Those of you who know Chris will appreciate that one. :-)

Great coments from one and all. BBJ, I learn a lot from the comments, too. And sweet Papamoka, your opinion ALWAYS counts! Iiny, thanks for the SCOTUS laugh! Infidel and Frodo teach me so much.

All this will resolve itself in NINE more days. Look for my new U.S. senator of C-SPAN. He’ll be the one drooling on his laptop.

BJ

tnlib said...

I don't totally ignore polls but I don't go seeking them out - for the very reasons Papamoka states.

But!!! I just read in the WaPo that Md Gov. O'Malley has a commanding lead over Ehrlich, his Republican rival.

Maybe I just likt polls when the news is good.

B.J. said...

tnlib: “Maybe I just like polls when the news is good.” Yep, you and 99 percent of everyone else! I was just on your blog reading comments. Your entired bipolar series was an outstanding gift to readers. So, now you are “Pippen.” :-) BJ

tnlib said...

Thanks, BJ. Now it's back to politics as usual.