Monday, December 21, 2009

"How Barack Obama undermined the Obama presidency"

Joe Sudbay (AMERICAblog):
NOTE FROM JOHN: Read this essay that Joe links to. I've not ready anything so spot on about the President, and what makes him tick.

A post at Huffington Post by Drew Westen, the political psychologist/neuroscientist, is sure to cause a stir today. Westen has gained a reputation as one of those scholars as an expert on political communication. His work in 2008 is often compared to what George Lakoff did in 2004.
Today, Westen provides a brutal, but accurate, assessment of the Obama presidency. It's worth a read. But have some coffee first, but you'll see things you've thought yourself over the past few months -- and you're going to be annoyed:

Somehow the president has managed to turn a base of new and progressive voters he himself energized like no one else could in 2008 into the likely stay-at-home voters of 2010, souring an entire generation of young people to the political process. It isn't hard for them to see that the winners seem to be the same no matter who the voters select (Wall Street, big oil, big Pharma, the insurance industry). In fact, the president's leadership style, combined with the Democratic Congress's penchant for making its sausage in public and producing new and usually more tasteless recipes every day, has had a very high toll far from the left: smack in the center of the political spectrum.

What's costing the president and courting danger for Democrats in 2010 isn't a question of left or right, because the president has accomplished the remarkable feat of both demoralizing the base and completely turning off voters in the center. If this were an ideological issue, that would not be the case. He would be holding either the middle or the left, not losing both.

What's costing the president are three things: a laissez faire style of leadership that appears weak and removed to everyday Americans, a failure to articulate and defend any coherent ideological position on virtually anything, and a widespread perception that he cares more about special interests like bank, credit card, oil and coal, and health and pharmaceutical companies than he does about the people they are shafting.

The problem is not that his record is being distorted. It's that all three have more than a grain of truth. And I say this not as one of those pesky "leftists." I say this as someone who has spent much of the last three years studying what moves voters in the middle, the Undecideds who will hear whichever side speaks to them with moral clarity.
I agree, as one of those pesky leftists.

How the Obama brain trust (who are the smartest people in the world in case you didn't know) destroyed the Obama brand of Hope and Change is going to be studied for years to come. Ultimately, the fault lies with Obama, but he got a lot of help from Rahm Emanuel and Jim Messina along the way.
Westen's analysis is painfully on point.
Howie P.S.: This argument represents one side in the ongoing debate over "How's Obama doing?" The other side believes he is skillfully navigating the shark-infested waters inside the Beltway to achieve incremental change using a pragmatic, non-ideological strategy.

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