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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The President is F&*ked II

Going into the speech tonight, the President has put himself into a position that is so untennable it's at this point nearly impossible to see how he can get out of it. At this point, there's no doubt that the president will ask for more troops tonight.

That will tick off the left which is now growing ever more impatient with him. It's still yet unclear if he can even sell more troops to get funding but even if he does, it will come at a major price politically. The conservatives will back him but they aren't going to be happy unless he gives McChrystal all the troops he asked for. As such, he will likely please no one with his decision.

At the same time he is selling this, he will also have to maneuver on health care. That's even less popular than an escalation of troops in Afghanistan. On top of this, liberals will already have to swallow more Afghan troops. So, what if there's no public option in health care? Are they really going to swallow that as well? Yet, it seems clear that the bill won't pass in the Senate with the public option. So, what's he to do?

Meanwhile, ACORN is continuing to embarrass him. It's stunning that Holder would come out and say that ACORN would get paid for back contracts. The optics on that look awful. Unemployment is past ten percent. Our deficit is north of $1.5 trillion. His approval rating is in the high 40's and dropping.

Carl Cameron said yesterday that in candor Democratic lawmakers are now targetting Valentine's Day for passing health care reform. The country simply can't take another two months of this. I said yesterday I was sick and tired of the debate and I don't think I'm alone. The approval for the bill is low and dropping and forcing the country to listen to it for another three months will only make it worse. As such, either the president passes nothing or passes something deeply unpopular.

At the same time, he's going to escalate a deeply unpopular war policy. Even if it ultimately works out, it will be a year or more before the public sees progress. In the middle of it all, it doesn't seem as though he can actually get Congressional approval for either let alone both. Already, some of the Democratic leadership have assumed their own role as Commander in Chief. They are making demands for how the war effort will go in order to back funding it. His base is turning on him just at the time he'll have to sell health care reform sans the public option.

Just think about it. Soon, there will be no group all that happy with the president. Conservatives are already in ODS mode. Moderates have been leaving for months. Now, it's the liberals that are beginning to turn and on the two main issues of the day, they're about to be disappointed.

It is all a result of the president totally misreading the mood of the country, the ideological make up of the Congress, and the so called mandate he received in 2008. He's trying to govern as a liberal, at least certainly on domestic issues, in a center right country. The make up of the Congress is center right even though it's more Democrat than Republican. The country didn't want a massive expansion of government and debt.

For him to succeed, he'll have to reinvent himself as a moderate. Health care reform could pass but it would have to be totally transformed into a moderate reform package. To do that, he'll have to show plenty of political acumen and courage. Neither of which he's ever shown in his career. Soon, he'll have no choice. He's created a political dynamic that is almost impossible to stop at this point. That dynamic will lead to huge shifts in 2010. He doesn't have the votes to govern as a liberal now. He certainly won't have them then.

The president is well on his way to becoming the fastest president to reach 30% approval ratings. Nothing is working. Worse yet, he's set himself up to make things even worse. He's about to alienate the left on Afghanistan without really appeasing the right or middle either. Health care is in chaos. The economy is in tatters. Our deficit is enormous, and blaming Bush no longer works. Like I said, the President is F*(ked.


AG said...

To be sure, the President is in trouble, but something you said doesn't make sense.

If the President is trying to govern as a liberal in a "centre-right" country, why are liberals abandoning him?

You simply cannot make both claims. If a troop surge in Afghanistan and killing a public option are turning liberals away from him, than that is PER SE evidence that he is ALREADY governing as a moderate. Not to mention his recent crazy-talk of balancing the budget in a recession and "entitlement reform".

It appears to me you want to make the claim that liberals are turning away from him even as he continues to govern as a liberal. Is that supposed to be indicative of your abject lack of respect for the intelligence of your political opponents?

You were right about one thing, though. The Republicans are in full on ODS mode. So how exactly is "reinventing himself as a moderate" supposed gain support from Republicans at a time when the RNC is considering officially purging itself of moderates and requiring its members to refer to the Democrats as Socalists?

Let's face it, Mike. You don't want Obama to moderate, you want Obama to lose.

mike volpe said...

That's a good comment. My statement that you referenced was sloppy and so I updated it. He's trying to govern as a liberal on domestic issues. He hasn't done enough on foreign policy to judge yet.

That said you make an awful lot of assumptions about me from that statement. I don't want to see him fail. I said he'd have to moderate in August and I stand by that statement.

He's trying to govern as a liberal in a center right country and that doesn't work so he then has to tack to the middle to get something passed. So, liberals aren't happy and moderates aren't happy.

So, you introduce liberal policies and you try and moderate them to pass them. That doesn't work in a center right country. That should explain it.

Anonymous said...

"To do that, he'll have to show plenty of political acumen and courage. Neither of which he's ever shown in his career."

I have to take exception to this statement. I never would have thought that a freshman senator who had never done anything but campaign for his next job or vote 'present' would have had any chance at beating Hillary Clinton and the Clinton machine, yet he did. Frankly, he ran a very Bono-esque campaign, and it resonated with an America that was really tired of Bush's inability to give a speech without sounding like he was talking to a 4-year-old and explaining why the sky is blue.

I didn't vote for the guy, but credit where it's due: he has political acumen, or his advisors do. I wouldn't count him out just yet.

There's also the minor detail that the GOP is having an identity crisis, trying to decide if it should be even more moderate than the party of John McCain, or turn to staunch religious conservatism, a la Sarah Palin. I also wouldn't consider it a given that the GOP won't nominate yet another ancient white guy who reminds us all of the battle for civil rights and reruns of Happy Days, or perhaps even worse, nominates a firebrand born-again Bible-thumper who cares more about banishing gays and closing up abortion shops than the issues of this century.

I think it's a little too soon to say the president is "F&*ked".

As for Afghanistan, frankly, it's a tough call, either way. What is the best-case scenario for us in that country? What could the U.S. possibly consider a 'win', there?

I think he should have given McChrystal every man he asked for, as promptly as he could, and then, after some random amount of time, decided whether things were going well (in which case, Obama wins the war! Yay!) or going poorly (in which case, Obama pulls us out of the war! Yay! At least he tried!). By only giving 30,000 troops, when McChrystal asked for 40,000, the president sets himself up for the criticism of "well, if only he'd taken the general's advice and given him all the troops he'd needed, this wouldn't have happened."

He missed a good opportunity here, in my opinion, by taking this half-measure. As you said, no one is happy with the tiny portions he doled out to everyone.