Triangulation Man: How Obama Avoids Passing His Agenda
Tas wrote a post about how President Barack Obama avoids trying to forward a progressive agenda.
Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of Obama and much of my criticism would be viewed under the light of me being a member of the "Professional Left". I don't think Obama is a fighter, and he doesn't have the vision to use the bully pulpit provided to him by the Presidential Office to change the job description of that office; as well as public opinion.
Pollster Nate Silver wrote on Twitter that Obama avoids policy fights when public opinion is on his side.
Dodd-Frank is a good example of something where WH had public opinion on its side but exerted little effort.
It is unfair to compare gay marriage to the public's sour mood of Wall Street. What is perplexing is that Obama wanted to do the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell after the midterm elections. There would not have been enough votes to defeat the filibuster. Fortunately, LGBT and progressive groups kept pressure on Obama. The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Don't was not cited as the reason why Democrats lost seats in Congress. Obama's strategic instincts on politics and policy turned out to be horrible.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo passed gay marriage by going after what Republicans care about most - campaign contribution. Money always trumps policy for the Republicans.
But the donors in the room — the billionaire Paul Singer, whose son is gay, joined by the hedge fund managers Cliff Asness and Daniel Loeb — had the influence and the money to insulate nervous senators from conservative backlash if they supported the marriage measure. And they were inclined to see the issue as one of personal freedom, consistent with their more libertarian views.
Within days, the wealthy Republicans sent back word: They were on board. Each of them cut six-figure checks to the lobbying campaign that eventually totaled more than $1 million.
Triangulation isn't an excuse to not govern. If Obama's big dream as a child was to have more Americans buy private health insurance then he should have become an insurance company CEO. In Obama's defense, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Eric Cantor have no interest in Obama passing any kind of legislative agenda. However, when Michael Steele defeats Obama's hand-picked DNC chairman Tim Kaine and McConnell is out messaging a speaker of Obama's skills then it is fair to point out there is a problem. When Obama does go on the attack, like he did against Paul Ryan and Donald Trump, his opponents fold like lawn chairs.
Update: Press Secretary Jay Carney tells the White House press corp. that Obama will not defend DOMA because he believes it is unconstitutional. Carney will not say if Obama supports gay marriage. Does the White House their position the President won't publicly support marriage that should be legally allowed under the 14th amendment. The White House position is a mess and will get attacked from all sides next year.
Q On another topic, last week the President spoke about gay marriage when he was in New York and he said that -- talked about how this has been the province of the state and that's the -- referring to what was happening in the debate in New York, he said that's the power of democracy at work. Does that mean that he also respects the outcome of democracy at work in California where voters rejected the idea of gay marriage?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think as you saw in the decision we announced that we would no longer -- this administration would no longer be participants defending the Defense of Marriage Act because we do not believe it's constitutional, that it's precisely because of his belief that this was a matter that needs to be decided by the states. So without commenting on a particular other state, I think he was making that clear with regard to the action in New York.
Q Okay, but --
MR. CARNEY: But I'm not going to put words in his mouth applying to another state. I mean, you can analyze that, but -- because I haven't heard him say that. But obviously the DOMA decision -- what he said in New York was about his belief, our belief, that this is a matter that states should decide.
Q And the central argument in the challenge to Proposition 8 by supporters of same-sex marriage rights is that this isn't something that should be decided state by states, in fact, that there are federal rights involved. So would he reject --
MR. CARNEY: Well, the President very strongly supports equal rights and he's -- we've been -- he's made that clear as well, and he said it again in New York at the event that you're discussing. So I'm not going to --
Q But I'm referring to the --
MR. CARNEY: I don't really have a lot I can say about Proposition 8 with regards to what the President said last week. You know, I don't -- I'm not willing to go to what the President didn't discuss. I can talk about what he did discuss.