Patterico's Pontifications


Democrats in Disarray

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 1:19 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Yesterday President Obama explained what he learned from Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts: The public is angry and frustrated with American politics and he didn’t communicate enough. Today we learn Obama wasn’t just talking about the American public. House Democrats are angry and frustrated because the Obama White House weren’t talking to them at all:

“On the day after Brown’s win, panicky House Democrats convened in the Capitol to discuss post-Massachusetts strategy, with some in attendance complaining about what they believed to be continued White House disengagement.

“We all pretty much knew for sure we were going to lose Massachusetts,” one person in attendance told POLITICO on Wednesday. “And yet, last night and this morning, we had absolutely no message guidance from the White House, [the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] or [the Democratic National Committee]. There was no leadership. … So all of the members today are just opining about what they think it means and whether we should move forward on health care.”

I guess Obama and his advisers were up all night formulating their “angry and frustrated” response so they didn’t have time to share it with other Democrats. Either that or they knew it was such a ludicrous argument that even Democrats wouldn’t buy it.

However, it seems the White House was talking to the New York Times. The message? That the White House is above the fray and it’s up to Congress to make the tough calls:

“Despite the criticism, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs seemed determined to stay the hands-off course. Gibbs told reporters Thursday that, after Massachusetts, the president wants to let “the dust settle” and look “for the best path forward.”

But House Democrats, already terrified by the wholesale defection of independents to the GOP in Massachusetts, were infuriated when a New York Times article, apparently citing an administration source, suggested Speaker Nancy Pelosi could pass an unamended version of the Senate’s health reform bill.

“The sense was that the Obama folks were trying to say it was inevitable when it wasn’t,” said New York Rep. Anthony Weiner, a supporter of the public option who has clashed with the White House repeatedly about the issue.

“It wasn’t that they were bullying us, but it reinforced the idea that they were a little tone-deaf to what the reality inside the House and Senate really were,” Weiner added.”

President Obama may want Americans to believe he has a communication problem but Congressional Democrats realize they have a leadership problem. The White House is willing to sacrifice other Democrats when it suits its purposes, and that’s not usually a winning political strategy. It reminds me of President George Bush’s decision to keep Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense before the 2006 midterm elections, only to accept his resignation shortly after the election. Republicans in Congress felt betrayed and rightly so.

This proves once again there’s nothing new in politics … which is why Republicans shouldn’t take too much solace in this week’s political developments. What goes around comes around, especially when it comes to politics.


24 Responses to “Democrats in Disarray”

  1. A bit of a tangent, perhaps, but as a Canadian watching this unfold, the attitude of your Congress Critters sure sounds like that of our parliamentary system backbenchers.

    Backbench MPs often complain of being overlooked and of having no real input, cuz it’s the inner circle (the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet) who make all the real decisions and then use party discipline to see that it’s done.

    Party discipline is a bigger thing here than for you guys of course, cuz an entire govt can fall if it loses a house vote, but the attitudes sure sound the same.

    To your guys I would say, hey, you were elected to lead, you’re supposed to be the leader, and when you look for guidance, look to your constituents, not to the White House.

    ras (88eebb)

  2. ras,

    I think that’s a good point. I know I want my Representative and Senators to generally follow their constituents’ wishes rather than the Party line. However, I doubt that’s the message the White House has been sending to Democratic members of Congress. It’s bad form for the White House to insist on total compliance when times are good but abandon the ship when times are bad.

    DRJ (84a0c3)

  3. Ya gotta love the irony — as well as the imagery — of a Democrat member of the HOR calling Ear Leader “tone-deaf”!

    Icy Texan (6e3930)

  4. The congressional Dems are beginning to realize that Obama and his minions are only in this for themselves – they’re going to have some tough decisions to make over the next few months.

    Dmac (539341)

  5. Obama did not communicate enough? Heckfire I was “angry and frustrated” as early as last May when I couldn’t turn my television on and not see Dear Leader blathering away in my face all the time and on every durned channel.

    I don’t think it’s a matter of Obama not talking enough; he talks too much. But I wouldn’t trust him to lead a troop of Girl Scouts across the street to sell cookies.

    He may be an organizer, but he sure as heck is no “leader”.

    Mike Myers (3c9845)

  6. Re: Comment by Mike Myers — 1/22/2010 @ 2:03 pm

    I feel compelled to reprint this post, first made here at Patterico’s, and later reprinted on my own woefully neglected blog:

    In response to a fellow blogger’s recent statement, “Obama would have some trouble leading a bunch of kindergartners out of a classroom during a fire drill,” I have imagined what it would be like if Obama really was in that situation . . . and it was not a drill.

    Obama: Okay, children. We’re uh, uh, uh, we’re going to exit the building now. [Pause] We — we — we’s, uh, I, uh, I know that some of you want to go that way; [Pause for effect] and I, uh, I know that others of you want to go in a different direction — and that’s okay; I understand that. But, uh, what we as Americans have to do, is, uh, we have to act collectively . . . uh, you know, for the uh, uh, the common good. So, what I propose to do is, uh, uh, if — if you will [*crackle*] agree to do your part [*sizzle*], and uh, uh, uh, commit to performing community service [*choke*], now wait — now wait just a moment; hear me out, now [*sputter*][*gasp*][*wheeze*]. Just a couple hundred hours per year, that’s all. [Pause] That’s all. You guys [*collapse*], you, uh, you’re young — you’re young, and let me tell you [“Mr. Obama, I can’t breathe!”], there is nothing more, uh, uh, gratifying [“Help!”], more, uh, uplifting [“I’m burning up!”], more, uh, uh, uh, uh, [Pause], more, uh, you know; it, it, it’s a special time [“Now I lay me down to sleep”] in, in, in your lives is what I’m trying to say; and you [*rattle*], you should grab that opportunity. So what do you say, kids? Can we all work to serve our fellow [Long pause] uh, uh, uh, uh, kids?

    [Thanks to EW1(SG) for the inspiration]

    Icy Texan (6e3930)

  7. we had absolutely no message guidance from the White House,

    as ras and DRJ commented earlier, if one was accustomed to listening, telling the truth, and being intellectually honest it wouldn’t be a problem.

    MD in Philly (d4668b)

  8. #5 Mike, there’s a huge difference between “Communication” and “Talking to.”

    It’s interesting to read the comments coming out of the WHite House. they all seem to use the phrase “Talking to.” “We need to spend more time talking to…” “We should be talking to…” etc.

    How about “Listening to?” “Talking with?”

    There’s the problem. BHO thinks we all want to listen to what HE wants. We’re just not paying enough attention, we plebes….

    Virtual Insanity (d9db9c)

  9. It reminds me of the Captain in the movie Stripes when he breaks down after they are all caprtured: “You people are not…capable of…following…my orders…..”

    Virtual Insanity (d9db9c)

  10. As Casey Stengel once said, “Can’t anybody here play this game ?”

    Mike K (2cf494)

  11. “Message guidance”?

    How pitiful.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  12. Mort Zuckerman has an observation on how Obama has diminished himself:

    “His promiscuity on TV has made him seem as if he is still a candidate instead of president and commander in chief. He—and his advisers—have failed to appreciate that national TV speeches are best reserved for those moments when the country faces a major crisis or a war. Now he faces the iron law of diminishing novelty.”

    ropelight (a6070c)

  13. Hey, who took the quart of strawberries!

    Pons asinorum (1f16cc)

  14. House Demos aren’t the only ones complaining about a lack of support from Obama.

    Erroll Southers, President Barack Obama’s former nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, said in an interview that it had been his decision to pull out of the confirmation process, but that his nomination could have used a lot more support.

    “I wish someone would have defended me more aggressively,” Southers told Salon. “The longer I was out there each week, the more people took shots at me. … I felt like I was on my heels throughout this process. And I would have preferred to be able to lean forward, and that never happened.”

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (9eb641)

  15. It is interesting that Barcky wants to talk to us about what our values are. So far, there is nothing to suggest that 1) he gives a crap about what our values are, 2) he understands what our values are, or 3) wants anything other than to tell us what he wants our values to be.

    JD (dc4402)

  16. Message Guidance sound like the scene from Monty Python’s Life Of Brian:

    “You must learn to think for yourselves!”

    “Yes. We must learn to think for ourselves!”

    ras (88eebb)

  17. […] Now Barney Frank and the Dems are for the Nuclear Option Patterico’s Pontifications: Democrats in Disarray and Pelosi: “I Don’t See the Votes” to Pass Senate Bill and Specter to Bachmann: “Act Like […]

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  18. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting less and less worried that Obama is going to “recalibrate” to “turn this thing around” before the midterms.

    elissa (c18d48)

  19. “I wish someone would have defended me more aggressively,”

    Bradley, it was fairly difficult to defend a person with Souther’s views on terrorism and his inclination to unionize a pathetic and incompetent security apparatus (TSA).

    Dmac (539341)

  20. He disassociates himself from congress just
    Like mob leaders from their enforcers to keep
    His hands from getting dirty, hoping nothing will
    be seen as “his fault” come 2012.

    PJPony (de0c49)

  21. Elissa – Given his track record, if he does recalibrate, it will result in an even sharper leftist bent.

    JD (4c5397)

  22. Yes, DJ, the young Ponderer in Chief must be very confused with all the conflicting “advice” he is getting from within his party and from the chattering class.

    elissa (c18d48)

  23. With reference to Southers, I don’t want to seem racist but it seems to me that the first qualification, far before ability and knowledge, is race. When I see an article about some incompetent Obama nomination, and I hate to say it, the first thing I look for is a photograph. I would think these people would be concerned about presenting an image of competent black appointees but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I am constantly reminded of Anthony Daniels’ essay about Rhodesia.

    MIke K (2cf494)

  24. Only a complete narcissist would have the audacity to believe that his problem is that he is communicating with the American People too little.
    Someone who could see further than himself, would realize that the popular support for his policies decline the more he pushes them upon the country.

    AD - RtR/OS! (f0e19b)

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