Monday, June 27, 2011

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.

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At June 27, 2011 8:36 PM , Blogger tas said...

It's not just triangulation, but assuming Obama has a triangulation strategy assumes that he has a solid strategy. On the contrary, I remember back to the beginning of this administration when they didn't even have a cabinet ready to go on day one -- and then they forgot to do background checks on potential appointees who, whoops, forgot to pay their taxes. This administration doesn't seem to have the vision of foresight on what the right thing to do is, and what the consequences are of foolish actions.

For example, going back to the beginning of 2009 again, Obama has 60 Democrats in the Senate and a solid majority in the House. If he chose to fight for stimulus that created jobs, or a public option, he could have rammed that shit home. Instead, Obama decided to play politics with a Republican Party that the American public roundly voted into the minority for a reason -- we were tired of their bullshit. Don't talk with them, don't acknowledge them, just help us now. But what happened? Obama wanted to play nice, and the stimulus sucked (because Republicans added a lot of tax cuts to it, then still didn't vote for it), and we have a bullshit cop out on the public option that probably won't survive court challenges to its Constitutionality. So, hey, great going President Dipshit.

The worst result of Obama's "strategy", though, are the consequences of giving Republicans their way once. Congresssional Republicans are like first graders: they will push and push and push until the teacher let's them get away with shit. Then, unimpeded by authority and sensing their own power, they act progressively worse. So when Obama let the GOP practically control the Congressional agenda when they were supposed to be a historically weak minority party, exactly what did he think the consequences of his actions would be after the 2010 elections? I hate to always harp on this point, but I can't get over the fact that this is the same Republican Party that tried impeaching a president over a blowjob. Did Obama expect to change them? Are you fucking kidding me?

At June 27, 2011 8:41 PM , Blogger tas said...

I mean, Obama just isn't a good leader. He does not know how to assess all of his options, weigh the consequences, then move forward. But tough shit, we're stick with him now. Only think left to hope for in 2012 is a GOP implosion that allows Obama to slide in for a second term. Romney is damaged goods and won't win, and I still think Bachmann is too crazy to win over the non-Evangelic wings of the party in a general election; she could win the nomination. But if Huntsman so how becomes a household name and gets taken seriously, well... Been nice knowing you, Obama.

At June 27, 2011 8:58 PM , Blogger Michael Hussey said...

I wonder how historians will look at Obama's first term. I don't imagine many comparisons to JBJ's and FDR's ability to pass tough legislation. Obama may get comparisons to LBJ's foreign policy. That is another issue.

But if Huntsman so how becomes a household name and gets taken seriously, well... Been nice knowing you, Obama.

Team Obama is counting on Obama to be taken out in the Republican primary. Huntsman is campaigning for name recognition and counting on the GOP swinging back to the center in 2016. If that happens that Huntsman's a smart pol.

-- and then they forgot to do background checks on potential appointees who, whoops, forgot to pay their taxes.

Geithner didn't pay his taxes, was a Republican and in charge of the New York Federal Reserve during the 2008 Wall Street crash. Yet Geithner was confirmed because both parties knew he was friendly to the financial sector. Geithner should have been laughed out of his confirmation hearing like Dashle.


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