Monday, July 27, 2009

"July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems," proclaims The Hill, which means everyone in D.C. has read it (PLUS: Fun with Politico)


"[I]n the past few months as unemployment rates gave spiked, Republicans have increasingly found traction in lambasting Obama’s agenda and fanning the flames of division within the Democratic Party."
-- from an "analysis" by Sam Youngman this morning in The Hill

by Ken

You don't have to agree with "insider" outlets like Politico and The Hill to recognize their importance inside the Beltway, where they are taken very seriously. I don't suppose it's even the case that all those insiders believe any more of what appears in them than we do, but since perception is so important there, it's desperately important for them to know what everyone else is perceiving.

And according to The Hill this morning, "July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems. Some of what Sam Youngman writes in his "analysis" is a simple matter of record, some of it seems to me nonsense, and some of it seems real but misexplained. All of it, however, was read this morning by everybody inside the Beltway, where perception is often nine-tenths (hey, pick your own fraction!) of reality, making this a part -- a big part? -- of the reality there.

Here is a condensed version:

Analysis: July has been disaster for Obama, Hill Dems

By Sam Youngman
Posted: 07/27/09 07:15 AM [ET]

The Obama administration, which was flying high a month ago after pushing through a climate change bill in the House, has since been dealt a series of setbacks and is struggling to regain its footing.

After the climate bill passed 219-212 on the afternoon of June 26, there was a feeling that the White House could get much of its agenda through Congress in 2009. . . .

[I]n the past few months as unemployment rates gave spiked, Republicans have increasingly found traction in lambasting Obama’s agenda and fanning the flames of division within the Democratic Party. Obama did score a significant victory last week on eliminating Senate funding for F-22 fighter jets, but the triumph was overshadowed by Democratic infighting on healthcare. . . .

Democrats on Capitol Hill have grown bolder in defying their party leader. Many centrist Democrats are worried that Republicans will have the upper hand in the 2010 elections.

Paul Light, an expert on the presidency and a professor at New York University, said the president's problems with Capitol Hill reflect "a miscalculation by the Obama administration on how political capital gets spent in Washington."

Light said that capital, even for a president who enjoys immense personal popular support like Obama, is spent a bit at a time on each initiative or piece of legislation. . . .

One of the reasons Obama has spent so much capital, aside from his ambitious agenda, has been his willingness to cede so much control to Congress, Light said.

While lawmakers like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are allies of the president, his political capital is not necessarily a priority of theirs. . . .

The other misstep that has bogged down the administration on healthcare specifically, is Obama's inability to communicate effectively to the American people, Light said.

While it is shocking to consider that Obama is anything less than one of the best communicators in modern political history, when it comes to healthcare, he simply has not been able to make the sell to people who do have health insurance.

And Wednesday night's prime time press conference was a "disaster," Light said.

Light said that for the president to regain political momentum, he needs to reclaim his agenda from Congress and start connecting with the public.

"He needs to take this over and own it," Light said.


Jane Hamsher's got a hilarious post up on The Campaign Silo this morning:

Democratic Party and Politico: Get a Clue
By: Jane Hamsher Monday July 27, 2009 9:09 am
Eric Boehlert writes about Glenn Thrush's piece in Politico, in which he concludes "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is one of the most despised political figures in the country":

BTW, according to Politico's own polling, 58 percent of Americans don't trust Pelosi. And wouldn't you know it,  according to Politico's own polling, 57 percent of Americans don't trust Sarah Palin. Can't wait for Thrush's exposé about how Palin is among "the most despised" political figures in America. Wake me when it arrives.

UPDATED: Well, well, well. According to Politico's polling, the Republican Party is not trusted by 57 percent of voters, which, of course, makes it one of the most "despised" political institutions in America, right?

Kagro and I were on a panel with someone from Politico for Democratic press secretaries a couple of months ago.  Everyone wanted to know  how they could get their boss a quote in Politico. They asked Kagro and I why they should trust blogs.  We sort of looked at each other and said, "because we're on your side?"

Then they wanted to know if people at Politico read the blogs, and if they had any influence over what people at Politico thought.

Kagro and I walked out shaking our heads.  I have to give Politico credit -- their business model was to cocoon the Hill at every level, from their beat sweeteners to the inside baseball gossip to the process stories that bored the general public.  But they wholly succeeded in becoming the publication that told the Hill what it thinks about itself.  If it doesn't register in Politico, it didn't happen as far as most Hill staffers are concerned.

I shouldn't have to remind everyone that Politico is funded -- and run -- by Republicans.  It's a huge flaw in the Democratic funding structure that the left doesn't like to fund media and thinks it will simply exist of its own accord.  And an even bigger flaw in Democratic staffers that they don't have any larger vision of politics than getting their name in the Hill's biggest gossip rag which certainly doesn't have their best interest at heart.

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At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Mac said...

Sometimes I think that President Obama knows what he is doing and he will handle everything, but the facts don't help my perception. I agree that his prime time address fell flat.

I have heard others say that it is his advisors. Well Emanuel is gone.. will thing change, but that is also to say that Obama is a puppet and that doesn't seem to fit.

I finally rest on the idea that he is being run by others that none of us know and that there is a much larger agenda that he is playing into, with part of the plan to lose support and give up some of congress. It is all too weird for me to figure out.

He seems as smart as JFK and he isn't even chasing other women, so why is he losing this political game so quickly? Obviously, I don't know, but I wish he would start kickin B... and taking names.. That might rally the troops, as they say.


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