After the Democratic “shellacking” in the midterm elections, everyone wondered how President Obama would respond. Would he show what he was made of? Would he stand firm for the values he believes in, even in the face of political adversity?Yup, this is what you voted for, Whole Foods Nation. This is the person you were warned about. You voted for a Reagan-adulating, Democrat-hating cipher who has taken the total mess bequeathed to the nation by Bush/Cheney and has made it worse. He is not even pretending to try to defend any interests, not even his own.
On Monday, we got the answer: he announced a pay freeze for federal workers. This was an announcement that had it all. It was transparently cynical; it was trivial in scale, but misguided in direction; and by making the announcement, Mr. Obama effectively conceded the policy argument to the very people who are seeking — successfully, it seems — to destroy him.
So I guess we are, in fact, seeing what Mr. Obama is made of.
Instead, he apparently intended the pay freeze announcement as a peace gesture to Republicans the day before a bipartisan summit. At that meeting, Mr. Obama, who has faced two years of complete scorched-earth opposition, declared that he had failed to reach out sufficiently to his implacable enemies. He did not, as far as anyone knows, wear a sign on his back saying “Kick me,” although he might as well have.Obama is not a Reaganite, no matter how much he enjoys fellating the corpse of the Gipper. If he really were a Reaganite, he'd know how to preserve and expand power.
I've written before that Obama lacks any sense of or taste for politics, and think I have his political philosophy identified, namely a very patrician Hoover-ish progressivism, but something Krugman wrote today made me have a very bad thought:
One would have expected a candidate who rode the enthusiasm of activists to an upset victory in the Democratic primary to realize that this enthusiasm was an important asset. Instead, however, Mr. Obama almost seems as if he’s trying, systematically, to disappoint his once-fervent supporters, to convince the people who put him where he is that they made an embarrassing mistake.I read this a little differently. What it looks like to me is Obama methodically reversing the desires of the people who voted for him, inverting every virtue and intention they projected on to him. If someone was trying to deconstruct the Democratic Party from the inside - betray its hopes, derail its changes, destroy its legacy - you couldn't ask for a better example.
Almost like an act of revenge.
I said in Primary Objective that Obama was not mortally unpopular with the base, but I'm having to rethink that claim much more quickly than I imagined given the way he has increased his pissing on the Democrats since the mid-term losses. If he has no loyalty to any part of the party and is eager to walk around with a big "Kick me" sign taped front and back, then it makes no sense for the party to follow him off the cliff. Krugman closes by saying, "It would be much easier, of course, for Democrats to draw a line if Mr. Obama would do his part. But all indications are that the party will have to look elsewhere for the leadership it needs."
I think the primary season has opened a few months early.