Let's see, plunk anyone in the country down in the middle of two failed wars, a huge economic mess, nearly zero percent inflation, and a closely divided congress and see what level of incompetence they display to someone who never liked them in the first place. Do you really think Hillary would be doing better at this point?
So we should just change the way the statistics have been reported for decades because "everyone knows it is different"? Telling people unemployment is 9.1% really mean anything at all. It just provides context. So you aren't telling them their shit sandwich is a sirloin (an expression I've always hated), you're telling them their shit sandwich is 3 % shittier than it was in 2006.
Absolutely anyone would be unelectable if they presided over an economy that maintained 9% unemployment for four years. The Fed baseline scenario is that unemployment is around 8% in 2012. I'd put Obama's over-under at around 7% unemployment. I think the days of 5% unemployment and 0% inflation are done.
I actually think Obama and the Democrats would have been better off without the stimulus and 11% unemployment.
Maybe, but the country would be worse off. I think that's a decent summary of Obama's first two years in office.
Honestly, if the Dems held 222 in the House and 54 in the Senate, I may join those saying the Republican party is dead. Given the numbers and the environment, they have to be favored for at least the House at this point. If they can't close on it, we really may be looking at a new day in American politics.
I dunno. My understanding of gerrymandering is that you create hugely lopsided districts for your opponent and narrowly partisan districts for yourself. But any change in the national tenor puts all of those narrowly partisan districts at risk simultaneously. So while there are some short-term upsides, it can backfire too.
Yeah, those are good points. Except that the Repubs are in some doo-doo too. Any Republican who thought about voting for Obama in 2008 probably isn't too enamored of this Tea-Party nonsense taking over the Republicans currently. So the Repubs have to thread the needle and keep these non-crazy Republicans voting Republican while keeping the Tea Party enthusiasm. That's no small task. Josh Marshall often posts blogs talking about the structural difficulties of Republicans reaching out to minorities. It's not as easy as it sounds because the very act of reaching out to minorities would turn off a significant portion of their base. I see a close analogy in the current moderate GOP versus Tea Party tensions. If Boehner comes out all moderate and concilliatory, he'll retain the moderates, but lose the crazies. If he comes out swinging, he'll lose the moderates and retain the Tea Partyers. As usual, it's a good game.
Nancy Pelosi is probably done as Speaker. Harry Reid may be done as Senate Majority Leader, although I think the Dems will hold the Senate. The ironic part of this is that Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman probably did as much as anyone to sully the image of Democrats, and a Democratically-led Senate in particular. And yet Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman are still around and the Senate will still most likely be led by the Democrats.
What I think Jerome misses in his analysis is that Democratic enthusiasm is fairly high this year by previous mid-term standards. It's just that Republican enthusiasm is super duper high by mid-term standards. The crazies have their anti-Obama knobs turned to eleven. It could be that the polls are missing some Democratic enthusiasm, but most likely they are correct that a Republican wave is coming. But I don't think it's for lack of stirring the base. Obama's 2008 win was based on a tenuous coalition of youth and minority turnout. In the long run this will serve the Democratic party well, but it's hard to expect a huge crop of 20 year-olds to turn out for a fairly (to them) vague mid-term election.
Having said all that, I don't think this is the end of the world or even necessarily all that unexpected. The Republicans will need to play ball next year. If they don't, they will not find themselves in the majority in 2012. This talk of shutting down the government is a perfect recipe to destroy Republican gains. Imagine Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and unemployment benefits STOPPING in this economic climate. And yet, if a government shut-down does not materialize, what is going to happen to the Tea Partiers? Will we see Boehner challenged from the right in 2012? How can Mitt Romney perform in that kind of environment?
I think a lot of the disillusionment on blogs today is by the same people who were insisting that the Republican party was finished...finished after the 2008 elections. That always struck me as a naive position, but it was very prevalent on left-leaning blogs. Of course the Republicans were going to make a comeback. And, as always, the comeback would be led by the right and not by the center. But the right and the right-leaning are going to have to fight this out after this election. It ain't gonna be pretty.
But Bushes' all-or-nothing approach with the Republicans was historic and, I believe, led to the Republican demise of 2008. Besides, that sort of approach just doesn't work with the Democrats. It could be that LBJ was better at this sort of thing, but I'm having a hard time naming anyone else. Plus the reason the Republican stonewalling worked so well over the past few years was that the Democrats were in charge by very large majorities, so for many people when they still couldn't get things done, it reflected poorly on them.
Also, there's a larger issue of expecting someone to solve the economic problems. The Republicans are about to wade (totally ill-prepared) into that morass. What are they going to do? Propose some more tax-cuts? Then what?
I have no idea whether or not McConnell & Boehner will shut down the government over HCR. But I believe that is not the reason they are being elected and they know it. This sets the stage for a showdown between the TP-ers and the normal crazy GOP. Or between the GOP (+TP wing) and the rest of the populace. They're not in a good position.
In terms of how Obama approached Lincoln, Nelson, Lieberman, etc. I'm not really sure what else could have been done. They did vote for the stimulus package (a huge deal) and all except Nelson voted for Financial Regulation (such as it was). Sure, they added a whole fuck-up aspect to everything else, but a Republican in their seat would be worlds worse. They spent that political capital. Most likely none of them will be joining us in 2013. But in the mean time, we got HCR, financial regulation, a stimulus package. Overall, not all that bad by modern standards.
I disagree. The turning point for HCR, at least publicly, was Obama going to the Repub caucus in February and outsmarting them at every turn. Granted, this exact circumstance won't happen again, but he has it in him. I think a lot of his reticence this past year was based on trying to hold together a highly fractious Dem party that knew they were heading to their own slaughter in November.
Whether or not he's the great bipartisan healer depends entirely upon the Republicans. McConnell and Cantor have already said that they don't back a gov't shut-down over HCR funding (much to the consternation of the TP-party). They know they have to get serious. We'll see what they come up with.
But the larger point is that it isn't necessary for Obama to go around picking fights with people. He just needs to state his case firmly and clearly - something he's good at. Having the Bully Pulpit means that people react to you, not the other way around.
I'm heartened by Obama's pocket-veto of the industry-friendly mortgage bill that came out of Congress on the grounds that it screwed the consumer. Also, I think it's of no small consequence that Larry Summers is gone and Elizabeth Warren is in. I think these instances might be a little foretaste of 2011.
The road is littered with people who underestimated Obama.
I basically agree, but I'd use a few different terms. The Congress made an enormous amount of progress in 2009 and 2010. I don't think we give them (and Obama) enough credit for that. Secondly, I'll posit here a theory I have that a lot of people underestimate how important it is to control the Executive Branch. All of the agencies and all of their staff carry out orders from Congress. They do this through personnel decisions and "rules interpretation". There is a lot of latitude in both of those. So our entire regulatory structure is flexible and dependent upon who is in charge. If you go back to 1968, there have been 28 years of Republican and 13 years (counting Obama) of Democratic control of the Executive Branch. So the regulatory structure you see in place today is largely a creation of Republican administrations. Having Democrats in control of the Executive Branch for a few more years is no small peanuts. It is critical.
Congress' goose was cooked last year. Thank goodness Nancy Pelosi persevered through HCR or they wouldn't even have that as an achievement and they'd probably still be losing the Congress. Now the Obama administration can focus on re-building the Executive Branch and largely playing defense against a hostile and totally ill-equipped GOP in the Congress. As the Civil War between the GOP and the Tea Party plays out, Obama will be in a strong position to retake the Presidency and maybe even the Congress in 2012. The GOP can't act like they had nothing to do with this lousy economy now. And you already see rifts opening between the TP wing and the normal crazy wing over whether to force a government shut-down this year over HCR.
The third way Obama can gain in the next few years is by controlling the bully pulpit. Bush did this masterfully from 2001 to 2003. All ideas were presented through his (largely incorrect in my opinion) lens. Anyone disagreeing with Bush had to prove themselves before even being heard. Even after the Dems took Congress in 2006, this remained the case. The default assumption was that Bush was right. Obama is ten times the communicator that Bush was. Once he has a concrete political foe to play off of, I believe he'll be able to make a strong case for the Progressive agenda all of us would like to push forward.
But you can't separate any of this from the economy. I'm sticking with my prediction that an unemployment rate < 7% in 2012 means Obama wins easily. Over 8 % or so and he'll have a really tough time getting re-elected.
I think that's not such a bad thing overall. The Repubs will have to step up to the plate and propose things that actually work rather than screaming Death Panels! (tm) or Socialism! (tm). Who knows, there may be a good idea or two rattling around in there. But if not, the voters aren't going to stand for endless inquiries into Obama's passport or George Soros' influence over climate change scientists. Besides, your premise seems to be that if nothing gets done in 2011 that it is somehow bad for Obama. But a crap-load got done over the past 18 months and that didn't seem to be too good for Obama (and the Democrats) either. Now he'll have the Republicans to play off of. He can credibly separate himself from the inevitable morass which is Congress. If all they do is pull crap like government shut-downs and try to impeach Obama for being a community organizer, they will be looking for work in 2012 (most likely as lobbyists making 3-5 x as much as a Congressperson).