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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

US politics: Obama on the ropes? « Previous | |Next »
January 5, 2011

In Where Do We Go from Here? in the New York Review of Books Paul Krugman and Robin Wells respond to the 2010 Congressional elections in which the Democrats were trounced and the Republicans gained control of the House and have effective blocking power in the Senate. They ask:

Was this disaster caused by reactions to the awful economy—an economy that Obama believes he saved, but not sufficiently to please voters? Or was it, as the Republicans believe, a repudiation of Obama and all that he and Nancy Pelosi stand for?

They respond by saying that there’s a lot of evidence to support the idea that the results were mainly attributable to the economy, then add:
even if it was the economy, there’s no guarantee that 2012 will be any better. The economy may not improve—in part because the new Republican House majority will oppose any policy that might make things better. And the Obama administration has consistently made the worst politically of a bad economy, overpromising, underdelivering, and seemingly going out of its way to alienate those who should be its supporters.

If a tough, skillful political team might be able to win even in the face of such economic weakness, then the Obama team has demonstrated neither toughness nor skill. So the odds are not good for a startling political comeback.

The Republican policymakers see increasing economic hardship as the path to election glory in November and it is extremely unlikely that Democrats can undertake any further fiscal stimulus. Krugman and Wells say that:

the Democrats can put Republicans on the spot, resisting calls for austerity and making the case, repeatedly, that the GOP is standing in the way of necessary action. The fight over renewal of unemployment benefits should be only the start. Democrats can also denounce Republican attacks on the Federal Reserve and defend the Fed’s independence. They can resist attempts to turn back health care reform, on both humanitarian and long-term budgeting grounds, as health care reform is the critical factor in reining in the long-term budget deficit.

They add that Democrats can also force the Republican agenda into the open. On issue after issue, the public favors what is in fact the Democratic position over what is in fact the Republican position—but Democrats gain little from this preference, because voters don’t know what either party actually stands for.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:42 AM | | Comments (5)


Krugman and Wells are pessimistic. They conclude:

In 2008, progressives fell for the fantasy of hope and change on the cheap; they believed Obama’s promise that the reforms America needed could float through on a tide of bipartisan reconciliation. It was not to be, and clinging to that illusion will only lead to more defeats. If progressives want to rebound, they’ll have to fight.

Fighhting means the Democrats delinking from Obama who, they reckon, won't be the leader of the Democratic agenda.

Goundhog day!
Yep, its deja vu, thinking back to Jimmy Carter and his presidency.
Nice blokes, not stupid, but unable to impose themselves through force of personality, in difficult times.

Unless the Democrats can regain their "warm and fuzzy" relationship with the American msm, any and all of their strategies will be a waste of time. Of course, the Tea Party mob are already too far gone.

It's ironic innit...? “If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.” ~Mark Twain.

the conservative surge means divided government in Washington.Eisenhower, Reagan, and Clinton spent most of their presidencies contending with divided government, yet still managed to move their agendas forward. Can Obama?

I have to say, a lot of Clinton's agenda didn't sit too well with me.