The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

Ben Smith makes some very good points and draws out some great quotes:

With Barack Obama's victory in passing a massive stimulus package marred by days of bad press -- as not a single House Republican backed the bill, his health czar went down in flames and his second pick for commerce secretary walked away -- the administration has been cut down to size, and lost some of its bipartisan sheen.

Such, at least, has been the beltway chatter, but so far the numbers don't back it up.


"It's eerie -- I read the news from the Beltway, and there's this disconnect with the polls from the Midwest that I see all around me," said Ann Seltzer, the authoritative Iowa pollster who works throughout the Midwest.


"I don't think he's lost anything in terms of overall job approval or favorability," said Andy Smith, a pollster at the University of New Hampshire. "That's just the a perception inside the Beltway that everybody outside Washington pays attention to politics and eats and lives politics the way you guys do down there."

Smith, and the pollsters he quotes, are speaking directly to a point I have been driving at for some time: Perhaps more than ever, there is a real divide between what the chattering class inside the Beltway is saying and what the people of this country are saying. We saw the beginnings of this during the campaign, when despite the fact that John McCain was deemed to be winning the news cycles -- indeed, his campaign seemed to care more about winning "Hardball" than it did about reaching 270 electoral votes -- Barack Obama nevertheless continued to lead in the polls, both nationwide and in the key states. Now we're seeing it again, as the establishment media focuses on the less meaningful back and forth while at the same time overlooking the larger picture being grasped by the public -- that is that President Obama is succeeding, in terms of both moving forward his policy agenda and bringing two-thirds of the country along with him in his effort.

Tags: Obama Administration (all tags)



Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

I've been trying to figure this out for a while now.  It's like the DC media just can't wait for Obama to crash and burn, and if it take's their assistance, so be it.  I swear, every republican in DC has been on tv at least once! Even on NPR, for crying out loud! WHAT THE HELL!

by viperlmw 2009-02-14 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

NPR= Nice Polite Republicans.

And, if this person is being truthful, it truly has become a media goal to bring Obama's approval down: ommentId=146670

I do find it mildly amusing that it is Ben Smith writing this article---I mean, seriously, as a publication is there a bigger regurgitator of Village CW than Politico?  

At some point, though, the media's war on the stimulus and Obama will have something of an effect.  In the Soviet Union, of course people disbelieved what they read in Pravda.  But it still served as the background of how they perceived the world.  

by bosdcla14 2009-02-14 10:41AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

...In the Soviet Union, of course people disbelieved what they read in Pravda...

"The News is not the Truth, the Truth is not the News."

Heh. Pravda on the Hudson and Izvestia on the Potomac.

by Michael Bersin 2009-02-15 02:35AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

Oh, it's not that complicated in some ways.  Conservatism is about maintaining and forming aristocracies; shabby aristocracies, maybe, but definite believers in their superior status and desire to defend it.

The Beltway establishment has become that way during the 40 years of Republican reign.  Very old Democrats, Republicans, conservative Democrats, simple toadies and minions, and little feudal lords of no particular partisan beliefs...that is what the place has filled up with.  

There was a time when that was quite inevitable, with a simpler electorate with narrower interests and competences.  In LBJ's Presidential campaign what is now called 'the Bible Belt' was still called 'the Yahoo Belt' in its memos.  (Perhaps even worse in conversation.)

I wouldn't say that reality has changed entirely, but the haughty purview from the Beltway has become wrong.  Not so much because The People is so much wiser, but because the electorate has become more generally knowledgeable.  The Beltway has slipped, relatively, and  because of aging, probably also absolutely.

by killjoy 2009-02-14 04:05PM | 0 recs
The media

loves to write the story before it happens...then tries to make it happen.

All my years working for the media, I've seen it. Right through the election cycle. They wanted the primary to be close and divisive, they wanted the story to be "OMG are Democrats going to blow it?" and they did all they can to make it that way.

The story they want to write now; "How a man who had all this support could be a colossal failure!" so it's in their interest for Obama to fail...what a story that would be!

by DTOzone 2009-02-14 07:54PM | 0 recs
The biggest disconnect

Is that pundits really think they matter?

In fact, I suspect except for Dittoheads that love Rush and some of us love Rachel Maddow, 96% of Americans (outside of the beltway) could give a flying F what Wolf, Tweety, George Steph, and the rest of the pundits say....

They are total drama queens, and complete and utter wimps.

When have you seen ONE of them ask these Republicans, how, since you are just Horrified at the fiscal irresponsability of this bill, you didn't resign in protest when Bush was doing the same kind of deficit spending?

Or, simple look up how much PORK these guys have brought home...

Hell, Ted Stevens is the ALL TIME leader in pork dollars per citizen of his state, why didn't they run HIM out of congress if they were so concerned about pork.

But, our gutless pundits just act like these crooks and liars are some Reagan-ite principles instead of hypocritical Bull-shit artists.

by WashStateBlue 2009-02-14 10:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

Republicans have never been less popular than they are today.  The stimulus fight has driven the point of their overall "has-been" status home.  In every poll Republicans are in lower esteem than lawyers and dog catchers, at about 30% approval and 60% disapproval.  They are the huge loser of the last month.  Who really CARES what Greta van Susteren or Tom Brokaw think?  The American people are speaking loud and clear, and they are saying:

1. Republicans are obstructionist just to put roadblocks in the way of Obama and Democrats in Congress.  That makes them basically worthless and impossible to vote into office.

2. Democrats are handling themselves pretty good.  They get better than average marks.

3. Obama is doing very well as president.  He is conducting himself well, is making a real effort to include the opposite side in negotiations, which is appreciated, but not returned by the worthless, obstructionist Republicans.  

All in all an incredibly good month for Obama and Democrats in general, terrible for Republicans, who, as a group, might have a lot of trouble recovering from the obstructionism and anti-populism stigma in time for the 2010 mid-terms.

Tune the chattering class out.  They are nowhere near the pulse of the American people, are not at all "our voice," so at this point they are insignificant opinionators just like Morris, Limbaugh, Hannity.  

by devilrays 2009-02-14 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

one of the best things Obama could do (with the help of left blogostan) would be to permanently circumvent the idiot chatterers of corporate media. If there was one thing impressive about Obama during the campaign, it was his ability to get his message to the voters in spite of the sniveling mind-numbing drool that passes for political coverage in this country.

by gak 2009-02-14 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

They are part of The System. Naturally, they try to defend it.

by InfiniteNether 2009-02-14 11:26AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

The first paragraph in that article is Ben Smith's and Politico's dream. They did a whole article about Michelle Obama redecorating her office like it was a huge scandal. I wrote Politico to say that they should have included how much money she gets paid for her hours of time as First Lady in their desperate hit job.

But I have quit corporate media ever since the primary. I don't believe a word they say. Before Obama's presser Charlie Gibson editorialized how much trouble Obama was having on the stimulus and how rocky everything was ... I changed the channel.

by Lolis 2009-02-14 11:45AM | 0 recs
"Bad press"

It's not that he got bad press, it's that the press is bad.

by riboflavin 2009-02-14 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

All this reminds me of the debates last fall, when the dopester villagers on TV were just certain of a tie or even a McCain win, and then the polling started coming in, and Mr. and Mrs. America had their say. Three times the villagers were wrong then, and they're still wrong today.

by S1 2009-02-14 12:37PM | 0 recs
right on

Where is Jerome with his GOP polls on this? this is politico jermone! almost as good as drudge!

by Bury 2009-02-14 01:13PM | 0 recs
Hear the message

Here in Indiana, it was below freezing but the steel workers rally was hot.  Jobs now!.  Stimulus now!  Health care now!.  No bailout for CEOs.  

The rally was the lead story on the local news with lots of unemployment stories.  

There will be a rally every 2 weeks.  This kind of take to the streets activism will send a message to the beltway.

by bakho 2009-02-14 02:34PM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

This jives with everything I hear from my co-workers and friends.  No one gives a crap about how many Rs voted for the stimulus, Tom Daschle, Judd Gregg, etc.  They care that an economic recovery bill passes and it works.  This is why they are happy with Obama -  he made the bill happen.

The press reports reminds me of the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky stuff.  People in DC were obsessed with it and the rest of the country wanted it to go away and thought Clinton was doing a good.  I lived and worked in DC at the time and the Village couldn't understand why no one else was outraged as they were.  DC is a total bubble - people don't get what is going on in the rest of the world.

by jmnyc 2009-02-14 06:48PM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

I think as news sources have fought for viewers by moving from journalists to pretty heads, from interviewing experts to pundits, from information to drama, and from objectivity to bias they are loosing their place in the process of public debate.  

by ddzoomj 2009-02-15 06:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

Yeah, those appointee "setbacks" don't amount to shit.

I mean, even a serious political junkie like me barely remembers W's appointment battles, let alone Clinton's.

The Republican's tried to capitalize on people's misgivings with expensive, debt-funded stimulus in general.  However, those misgivings aren't outweighed by the belief that the Fed Gov needs to do something, and let's face it, the Reps crying over deficits all of a sudden is a complete joke.

No one is buying it.

Of course, Obama's handling of the media helps too: including new sources like Huff Post and setting the record straight on his outreach v. Rep obstructionism.  Brilliant.

by midwestdem1 2009-02-15 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The Beltway Games Don't Really Matter

This is noooothing. Remember the Clinton Impeachment when they had to invent a new poll to get people to stop liking him?

At least this time the party won't fall for it. The Ds in Congress refused to campaign with Bill, as did Gore, and lost. So if the D's read the polls and no Broder, then they do not matter. BUT to the extent that Harry Reid follows the Village as opposed to the people, the damage is real.

Oh, did you notice? Appointing Gregg was Reid's idea. What a leader.

by redwagon 2009-02-16 01:21PM | 0 recs


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