Campaigns/Elections

Barone: The Election's Winged Chariot Hurries Near Obama

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Even his hair's going white on the same schedule as all the other presidents.

In the Washington Ex, Michael Barone takes a look at President Obama's prioritizing of policy issues vs. strictly election-strategizing issues, and says he's a lot more interested in the latter. This is becoming more clear as the mid-term elections approach and the Democrats' popularity plummets, but Barone explains that Obama's habit of paying "curiously little attention to the substance of the legislation" goes back to his second month in office:

One-third of the stimulus money went to state and local governments—i.e., to public employee unions—which helped ensure that the bill would not hold down unemployment to the promised 8 percent. And the health care bill, we now learn from Health and Human Services Department actuaries, is going to increase spending rather than hold it down.

Now Obama seems to be pivoting toward legislative priorities chosen not for policy but for political reasons.

The pivot is apparent from how he has depicted the financial regulation bill before the Senate. No one disputes that some changes in financial regulation are needed. But the Democratic bill Obama is supporting would, contrary to his sound bites, enshrine rather than end the too-big-to-fail status of the giant Wall Street firms.

The bill does little to change the regulation of the ratings agencies that gave AAA imprimaturs to mortgage-backed securities that turned out to be worthless. And it does not explicitly impose higher capital requirements to clamp down on the huge leverage that made so many Wall Street firms billions and then caused them to crash and seek government bailouts.

Democrats need Republican votes to pass a bill, but have refused to make compromises so they can provoke roll call votes that they can use during campaign season to argue that Republicans are soft on Wall Street. Politics over policy.

Whole story. Although Obama's electioneering is also taking in immigration and an effort to reunite the team of "young people, African-Americans, Latinos and women who powered our victory," Barone notes that using policy debates as election-year fodder is not the same as winning elections:

Gallup reports that "very enthusiastic" voters favor Republicans 57 percent to 37 percent in congressional elections. Will attacks on Wall Street, deep-sixing the cap-and-trade bill and getting beaten on immigration change that? The Obama Democrats hope so. But I wouldn't bet heavily on it.

Back in September, Jesse Walker noted that we might be better off if Obama were the firebreathing, red-diapered, bomb-throwing radical his enemies say he is, rather than the entirely political and establishmentarian character he actually is. Obama's doubling down on Bush-era protections for Wall Street has already been covered extensively. For an extended look at the president's continuation of his predecessor's policies on national security, domestic surveillance and indefinite detention, dig the June issue of Reason, on newsstands everywhere.

NEXT: "The Lighthouse in Economics" Revisited

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  1. All firebreathing, red-diapered, bomb-throwing radicals are entirely political and establishmentarian characters.

  2. There are those who say that political gain should be subservient to the good of the people. Those who say this are members of an irrelevant, extremist fringe group. We will never yield to their racist attempts to destroy this nation.

    1. Preach on, Brother Brooks, preach on!

    2. …oh, and you forgot “homophobic”, “sexist” and “science haters”.

  3. If you saw his televised Q&A with the GOP several months ago, you know he’s reasonably well versed in his own policies (not that that makes them any better).

    Then again, I can only really compare him with George W. Bush (who was incapable of contemporaneously explaining his policies beyond a couple talking points) and Bill Clinton (who had trouble shutting up).

  4. I’m not big on polls, but I enjoy the commentariat here at Reason so, informally- how many folks think Obama is a one termer, and how many think he’ll be back?

    I’m interested to see if folks thinks he’ll be back.

    1. One term. He might escape that fate if Congress goes (and stays) totally GOP and is perceived as screwing things up.

      1. I don’t think he is going to run for a second term. He wants to get as much asinine shit passed as possible and then let a stunt Dem in 2012 claim to be different. He wants to transform America. And has said he would rather be a great one termer than a so so two termer. You have to understand the size of this man’s ego. He thinks of himself as being so great that the lowly American people could never fully appreciate him until he is gone.

        1. You have to understand the size of this man’s ego. He thinks of himself as being so great that the lowly American people could never fully appreciate him until he is gone.

          Oh, please. Barack is one of the smartest people you will ever encounter who will deign to enter this messy thing called politics. Barack Obama is the only person who understands that before we can work on our problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation. He’s helping us to move to the world as it should be, and because of that I am proud of my country for the first time in my adult life.

          1. Barack Obama is the only person who understands that before we can work on our problems, we have to fix our souls.

            *barf*

          2. How is he doing this? I haven’t noticed it.

        2. I will bet you $1,000, even odds, that Obama runs for a second term.

          I have put my real e-mail under the signature.

          E-mail me and we’ll bet $1,000 that Obama runs for a second term.

          1. If you are giving even odds, that means you think there is at least a decent chance he might not. In 2002, I would have given 20 to 1 GWB runs for re-election. Same with Clinton and Bush I. I am not saying it is a sure thing. But it is a lot more likely than people think.

          2. He will run again and win.

            1. With double digit unemployment, inflation, trillion dollar deficits and God knows what kinds of tax increases? You really think any President could win re-election under those circumstances? Unless you think the toot fairy is coming to save the economy, he has very little chance of winning in 2012. “Its the economy stupid” wasn’t a cliche for nothing.

              1. The toot fairy – delivering cocaine to good little girls and boys for centuries.

                1. I thought he delivered unicorn fats to everyone?

                  1. unicorn fats

                    Is that a latent Bostonian accent I detect, as in fAHts?

              2. What can I say, $1000 is real money to me. 🙁

              3. Not only can a president be re-elected under those circumstances, he could be re-elected three times as history has shown.

            2. If I’m right and this charade has been orchestrated by the Chicago Rodham machine through the Center for American Progress, there a chance he doesn’t survive for a second term. A set up would not only eliminate exposure risks, but Bubba would also get to say I told you so.

              1. You can put in your 2 cents http://www.usaelectionpolls.co…..10001.html

                1. My feeling is I will be discussing 2 cents with attention undivided this evening.

                  1. centavos

          3. Of course he’s running! Duh. In fact all he’s doing is running.

        3. That is if he isn’t forced to resign by one of the hundreds of lies he’s told already.

        4. There is no way he is stepping down. I firmly believe that he would jump at the chance to have an FDR-like four terms if at all possible. Just the thought makes me want to throw up.

        5. John — a man with as big of an ego as you claim Obama has will run for a second term, because he feels he is so wonderful that of course people will re-elect him.

    2. One term. Unless, by some miracle, the economy has turned around and he can take credit for it. But considering that everything he does sandbags the economy, it is doubtful he’ll have that to use.

      A retarded monkey running for the GOP could run ads that would devastate Obama in the next election, but the GOP has very few people that can out-think a retarded monkey, so…who knows.

      1. Retarded Monkey 2012!

        I’m in.

        1. But who would the Repubs run against the retarded monkey?

          1. A monkey in a monocle and top hat?

            1. I would take that. Monkeys in suits are always funny.

            2. I would take that. Monkeys in suits are always funny.

              1. Always.

            3. Curious George in 12!!

          2. Mojo:

            http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi…..s_5F15.png

            Pray. For. Mojo. The perfect GOP candidate.

        2. I want to start selling tshirts that say “Corky 2012…hey, you gave the black guy a chance!” Just to see what happens.

        3. OK – retarded monkey it is but only if Sarah is VP.

      2. I can’t figure out if he is so stupid he doesn’t realize that no President of either party wins re-election with a bad economy or he just doesn’t care. Clinton lived in fear of the bond markets and the economy going south. Not so much Obama.

        I have never seen a President so unconcerned about the economy. Any other President would be on TV 24 seven doing nothing but telling the world how he is going to get America working again. But not Obama. He wants HCR, Cap and Trade and a bunch of other things that have nothing directly to do with the economy. He is totally out of touch.

        1. Actually John, those things you list have everything to do with the economy, as in screwing it completely up. HCR, Cap and Trade, etc. will do nothing but further exacerbate the economic problems.

            1. True dat.

      3. The economy is picking up. The question is how many of those jobs return by 2012?

        Many are gone for good as companies modernized and are used to doing more with less.

    3. The demographics are difficult to overcome. Getting 98% of the black vote (instead of the 89% Kerry was able to get) in addition to the ever more efficient get out the youth and minority vote drives. Not to mention the full support and the mandatory Republican candidate smearing that will come from the elite media and the entertainment industry (Hollywood, Comedians, Musicians, etc). Add that to the fact the republicans will not pick anyone inspiring (McCain or Hucklebee?). I think it will be difficult to dethrone him. I also think after once again experiencing one party rule people may be inclined to keep him in if the GOP takes control of congress this year, However, they may vote him out if the dems miraculously don’t get slaughtered in November just to get some balance back in the system. As much as the media likes to talk about how the people hate obstructionism, I think they really prefer gridlock to the alternative of watching Washington screw everything up they touch.

      1. I know almost everyone here appreciates gridlock, but I never hear a thing about gridlock from any of my friends that are followers of one of the 2 parties.

        Are Team R/B Players really that interested in gridlock?

        1. No. TEAM RED TEAM BLUE shitheads hate gridlock because it stops their pet projects from getting done when their guys are in power.

    4. Two. Maybe one.

    5. Barring some huge, unforeseen catastrophe, he’ll be back. I guarantee it.

      1. If the economy still sucks after 4 years, Obama is toast.

        1. And the opposing side is doing everything they can to make sure that’s the case.

          1. You mean like voting for a healthcare bill which increases costs for recovering businesses?

            Oh wait…

    6. I can’t imagine how he doesn’t win a second term. Who will the Republicans actually nominate that can beat him? Even if the economy etc doesn’t improve considerably, that only offsets his advantages as incumbent. The Republicans will once again shoot themselves in the foot.

      1. Anyone mention the assassination option yet? Not that I would condone that.

        1. This isn’t a banana republic. Yet.

        2. Chickenshit. From now on you shall be referred to as period. As in vaginal discharge.

    7. Shoo-in for second term.

  5. “Everything you hated about George W. Bush plus everything you hated about Jimmy Carter – Obama 2012!”

    1. Why change dicks in the middle of the screw? Barrack Obama in one two.

  6. Tman, it’s still early for predictions, but if the GOP doesn’t get its act together i could see them gifting Barry with another term.

    And has said he would rather be a great one termer than a so so two termer.

    The man has said a lot of things.

    1. “You said I would win if I slept with you!”

      “Duffman says a lot of things!”

      1. You are clever and witty, but your comments and most likely your mind is superficial and irrelevant.

        1. No! Not the Xylurt gas!

          3:1 odds Pat Hank is Dan T.

          1. Nah, Danny wouldn’t take time off from jacking it to crush videos and hand-crafting such fine prose to write posts that long.

            1. Perhaps it’s one of his colleagues at the Institute for Advanced Sarcasm.

              1. You mean The Split-Personality Palace?

                1. Beekeeper 2: To the Beemobile!
                  Beekeeper 1: You mean your Chevy?
                  Beekeeper 2: Yes.

  7. I expect the Republicans to nominate some utterly despicable and unelectable cretin, like Huckabee.

    1. Huckabee will not get the nomination. It will be someone new. It won’t be anyone from the 08 crowd. Same goes for Romney.

      1. Maybe, but it’ll certainly be some knuckle-dragging cretin whose only virtue will be that he’s not Obama.

        1. some knuckle-dragging cretin whose only virtue will be that he’s not Obama Bush.

          Hey, it worked in 2008.

      2. As much as I hope you’re right John, I think that we are going to see Hucklebee, Romney, and McCain again. I think Rudy’s probably out though. At least he shows no indication of wanting to run. Might see Paul Ryan in there too although he’s claimed he won’t run.

        1. McCain is done. He has about as much chance as Bob Dole. I don’t see how Romeny overcomes the Masscare debacle. And Huckabee has no fiscal conservative credentials. No one in 2012 will win without those.

          1. David Petraeus – he is a viable republican candidate who has what it takes to make the trains run on time.

            1. Maybe. He more than Palin, would be the Republicans’ Obama. I am not sold on him. I have heard a lot of stories about him being a pretty craven political being.

              1. “him being a pretty craven political being.”

                just what we need to carry out our plans.

            2. If Petraeus is even nominated by the GOP I’m joining the John Birch Society.

              1. And I’m moving to Canada.
                I really will this time!

              2. because that would finally prove that their paranoia at the power of the military industrial complex is justifiable?

        2. McCain might not even win reelection to the SENATE.

          No way the Republicans run a proven loser twice.

          1. You talking about me?

    2. It’s going to be Mitch Daniels. And he’s already admitted he’s running.

      1. He has that Adlai Stevenson sparkle.

      2. We need a Chris Christie right now, but Daniels isn’t a bad substitute.

  8. There’s also the “Devil You Know” factor; most people don’t DESPISE the guy with the sort of teeth-grinding intensity *I* do. Why did Bernanke get re-appointed? Because he already had the job; that’s what the Presidential Suit has going for him, more than anything.

    He, with the willing assistance of people like David Brooks, will dress the steaming pile of shit which will one day be known as his legacy in a frilly frock, and say, “See all the loot what I has bestowed upon youse? Vote for me, and I’ll keep it coming.”

    1. If that were true no President would ever not win re-election. Devil you know didn’t save Truman, Ford, Johnson, Carter or Bush I.

      1. DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN

        You read it here first

        1. But Truman was eligible to run again in 52 but didn’t. Same with Johnson in 68 who dropped out after a strong finish by Eugene Mccarthy in the New Hampshire primaries.

          1. Not running in 1952 isn’t the same thing as not being re-elected. He was re-elected in 1948.

            1. But would have been destroyed had he ran again in 52. The point is just because you are an incumbent doesn’t mean you will win.

            2. Truman was ELECTED in 1948, not re-elected. FDR was elected in 1944.

          2. LBJ was done well before McCarthy entered the scene. He took what Kennedy started and killed millions of Vietnamese and 50,000 Americans. Hard to run on that record.

  9. Any of you who think Obama’s not going to win a second term are seriously underestimating the power of the phrase “first black president”. Obama will be a two-term president, no matter how horrible a job he does.

    1. Maybe. But I think that is a one trick pony. People voted for him in no small measure because they wanted to see history and wanted to vent some white guilt. Well electing him once did that. Him winning re-election would neither historical nor cleansing. He will lose most of the “vote for the black man this time” effect.

      1. He will lose most of the “vote for the black man this time” effect.

        Then we know Tim Cavanaugh is out.

        1. Probably. But there will be a lot of crying and gnashing of teeth and probably some therapy to get over the trauma of voting against a black man.

          1. That’s easy.

            “Hey, you voted against Jesse Jackson – 25 times! You’ll get over voting against Obama.”

      2. People voted for him in no small measure because they wanted to see history and wanted to vent some ALL their white guilt.

        I maintain this is the reason, more than any other, is why this charlatan currently occupies the WH. They bought the notion of “post-racial” American from this product of race hucksterism when a big chunk of Americans of all creeds and ethnicities have demonstrated no vested interest in doing so.

      3. I doubt it, John. Not re-electing him would be racist to those people.

        1. You don’t get it Warty. The last thing these people want is not to feel guilty. Best for them is the smug satisfaction of voting for Obama in 08 followed by the tragic sense of loss over how racist America turned him out of office.

          1. I don’t see this crowd voting against Obama. I don’t necessarily see them turning out to vote for him a second time either though.

            A lot of 20-somethings who wanted to be part of history got their “Yes We Did” t-shirts and are done with politics for a while.

          2. Oh, no doubt about that. I thought you were saying that the people who voted for him last time just because he’s a black guy weren’t going to support his re-election. That’s just crazy talk.

            followed by the tragic sense of loss over how racist America turned him out of office.

            Actually, those people would like it even better if he got assassinated. We could have 50 years of tributes to America’s last, best hope to overcome racism, and how he was murdered by corporate Republicans, and so on.

    2. He can be the first black president to not win re-election.

      One term.

        1. You’ve been waiting to post that since Obama was elected, haven’t you?

          1. Does this mean than Obama isn’t actually president? That’s quite a hoax. Does it also turn out that the economy is just fine, too?

    3. Any of you who think Obama’s not going to win a second term are seriously underestimating the power of the phrase “first black president”.

      How powerful is that phrase for an incumbent? For a newcomer like Obama was, sure; in ’08 it had some historic heft. In 2012, not so much.

      It won’t take very many people who voted on that basis in ’08 deciding that, not only have they discharged their racial guilt, they were actually taken for rubes, to nullify it.

      1. I think we typically see one-term presidents as failures. Like they weren’t good enough to get a second term. And I think a lot of people will be unwilling to let the first black president be a failure and have only one term.

        1. When we are sitting here in 2012 with the economy and government in a shambles, I don’t think considering Obama will a failure will be optional.

          1. A bad economy will be proof that we need more Obama.

      2. It won’t take very many people who voted on that basis in ’08 deciding that, not only have they discharged their racial guilt, they were actually taken for rubes, to nullify it.

        THIS. Yet publicly voicing it will get you branded a racist, despite the cogency of your most astute observation.

        1. I can’t wait to hear the stories about the resurgent popularity of racism after the 2012 election.

          1. Totally. And don’t forget the endless media thumb sucking about the failed promise of Obama. Obama losing in 2012 will be to today’s liberals what RFK’s assassination was to 60s liberals.

            1. Obama is certainly the most narcissistic President in memory. And he’s had the longest honeymoon with the press since JFK. If that holds he’ll be tough to beat. There’s plenty so far to find fault with, and yet the press continues to carry his water without any apparent shame.

              1. His honeymoon has been pretty short. His approval ratings are already upside down. And a majority say they wouldn’t vote to re-elect him. That is a pretty lousy honeymoon.

                1. The turd will win reelection. He will have no competition. Alas, the Republicans’ most compelling candidate, the retarded monkey, is not constitutionally eligible.

                  1. But this monkey is:
                    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koko_the_Gorilla
                    Born in the U.S.A, over 35 years of age. Heck, over 40 by 2012.

                    Are gorillas technically monkeys though?

                    Koko in 2012.

                    1. That is an ape. And if I am going to vote for an ape, I want one of the ones they used for the space program back in the 1960s. I want a veteran ape.

  10. And the health care bill, we now learn from Health and Human Services Department actuaries, is going to increase spending rather than hold it down.

    That’s because we passed it, so now we know what’s in it.

  11. Oh my God, Michael Barone, you mean a politician might take actions for political reasons?!? I am shocked, horrified, and shocked a second time!

  12. Lets hear more about Clegg! This election could happen in a couple weeks or so. I’d be happy to be informed on this. It would also be interesting to see if Moynihan and Cathy Young views are more in line with David Frum or Justin Raimondo.

  13. Are Team R/B Players really that interested in gridlock?

    Considering the number of people who whine about “Do-Nothing Congress” I’ll say, “No.”

    1. I never hear anyone say that except the media and the beltway establishment. I think most people outside that would be happy to see a do nothing Congress for a while.

      Of course, it would be nice if Congress would undo some of the damage that has been done rather than just do nothing.

      1. Do-Nothing/Retarded Monkey 2012!

  14. Two (non)-predictions:

    The results of the 2010 midterm will be heavily influenced by whatever happens between now and November. Sure, the debacle to date has set the table, but the meal will be something else.

    The results of the 2012 election will have little to do with anything that happens before 2011, if not 2012. If the Republicans nominate some knob, the economy recovers somewhat, and Obama doesn’t step on his dick in foreign affairs, he’s a shoo-in.

    1. Sadly, I don’t think the economy is going to recover. We might see some mirage like an inflation induced stock rally that the media will sell as a recovery. But the indicators that matter to voters, unemployment and wages, are very unlikely to recover.

      As far as Obama stepping on his dick in foreign affairs, that is certainly a possibility. But he also might pull a Clinton and get lucky and never be given the opportunity.

      But if the economy recovering is a pre-condition to him being re-elected, Obama is probably doomed.

      1. Don’t underestimate the ability of O’s accountants to spin shiny red lipstick on the diseased pig that is the economy. They’ll find a positive trend or two and Obama will run on that.

  15. Maybe this election is the Republicans’ to win… but who will they run?

    At this point, they’ve got a decent VP pick in Romney and *NOBODY* else.

  16. Will attacks on Wall Street, deep-sixing the cap-and-trade bill and getting beaten on immigration change that? The Obama Democrats hope so. But I wouldn’t bet heavily on it.

    One thing that is missing here that Obama is doing and trying to avoid the comming republican surge in November is the inflation he was wrought.

    Obama has essentially adopted the republican drill baby drill meme in an attempt to solidify the idea that rising oil prices are caused by our lack of oil production. The reality is that the market is awash in oil and very little demand for it. Oil prices are rising for one simple reason. The US dollar in the global market have lost much of its value.

    If poeple connect Obama’s and his Democrat congress’s spending with rising oil prices he is as good as dead come November.

  17. Up to now, I’ve been kind of negative on his chances of NOT getting reelected – because he’s still going to be black and most people who voted for him the first time are still going to be stupid – but the more I think about it, the more I think he’s a one-termer.

    The 2008 election was pretty close – even with 99% of the black vote (who can’t be racist, by definition) and all of the “youth” and hardcore lefties, he still needed to turn some traditional red states blue and sandbag a LOT of independents and squishes his way, no doubt enhanced by the white guilt factor.

    Now they’ve purged the sins of their (racist) fathers and, after ObamaCare and all of the ridiculous far left rhetoric that comes out of his mouth, he can’t portray himself as a reasonable moderate with nice pants anymore.

    So I am not so pessimistic.

    Now the GOP needs to run someone other than Romney or McCain or Huckaby and I think they’ll have a good chance.

    Paul Ryan, anyone? Bobby Jindal?

  18. Obama will eviscerate any GOP nominee unless it’s David Petraeus, but probably him too.

    Republicans, as they well know, are no more popular than they’ve been. So their only strategy is making Obama fail. And they’re not winning.

  19. I would not assume he keeps high levels of black support by the time 2012 rolls around. He is not going to stop pounding a left economic message and that part of the populace wont be different from the rest of Americans who increasingly become aware of what is obvious to us — whatever personal advantages one gains from progressive public policy, subsidized mortgages, health care, student loans, etc., leftist economic policies suck shit through a straw in the aggregate.

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