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Can Democrats escape the downward pull of a failing President?

by | Aug 25, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

Pro-abortion President Barack Obama

Talk about variations on a theme. The headline to Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza’s commentary—with very few alterations—could be the opening for countless other musings about our beleaguered 44th President: “‘Disconnected Obama’ needs to change conversation to help party in midterms.”

“Changing the conversation” means….what? Obviously talking about items that theoretically enhance the electoral prospects of Democrats. But having a “conversation” assumes there is subject matter the President has an interest in. The uncomfortable truth is that such items are fewer (than ever) and farther (than ever) between.

However it’s not just all the jokes about the semi-retired, on-his-way-out-the-door President that explains all the nervous talk about getting him motivated enough to do something that energizes the base for the November elections. There is (for Democrats) the dreadful possibility that he won’t, or, even if he does, that events have so spiraled out of control that Democrats will not be able to escape the downward pull of a failing President.

On August 11, I wrote about an interview President Obama gave to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman that had appeared over the previous weekend.  Newsbusters’ Laura Flint wrote shrewdly on the same topic.

Flint observed, “the very same president who blamed partisanship in Congress for his inability to lead the country” (a) had just responded to Friedman’s question about what was “the biggest difference between Democrats and Republicans” by saying that the Democratic “consensus” is “a pretty common sense mainstream consensus” while the Republican consensus is based in “wacky ideological nonsense”; and (b) that “ideological extremism and maximalist position is much more prominent in the Republican Party than the Democrats” whom, Obama insisted, are “generally… fact-based and reason-based.”

For the sake of argument, assume the President wants to get anything accomplished in the next nine weeks, how can snide, derogatory comments like that possibly help?

But I failed to talk about something Friedman wrote that, in retrospect, is absolutely fascinating. (Remember, most of the conversation was about foreign policy.) According to Friedman

“I began by asking whether if former Secretary of State Dean Acheson was ‘present at the creation’ of the post-World War II order, as he once wrote, did Obama feel present at the ‘disintegration [of the post-World War II order]?’”

But is the Obama presidency disintegrating?

Over the weekend, the New York Times’ Maureen Dowd wrote a never-to-be-forgotten column that will likely be referenced in every book written about Obama’s two terms in office.

It was a withering put down not only of the President’s long and ill-timed vacation during a time of unrest (at home and abroad), but also his inability to understand that if there ever was a time for presidential leadership, it was while Obama was up in Martha’s Vineyards playing golf and partying with the beautiful people.

The title of her piece? “The Golf Address” in which she mocked the President by playing off of some of Lincoln’s memorable language in The Gettysburg Address. It is the single most devastating critique of a president that I have read in my 40+ years of following politics.

If I were the President, and a one-time apologist par excellence had thrown me under the bus and run me over several times, I’d rethink my strategy.

Categories: Politics