Everything’s Obama’s Fault

Jeff Greenfield over at WIN THE MORNING decides that this whole “President Obama kicking ass for the last year or so” thing is getting boring, and giving a black President a positive can’t possibly be right, so we’re back to everything is Obama’s fault as to how he has destroyed the Democratic party.

Under Obama, the party started strong. “When Obama was elected in 2008, Democrats were at a high water mark,” says David Axelrod, who served as one of Obama’s top strategists. “Driven by antipathy to George W. Bush and then the Obama wave, Democrats had enjoyed two banner elections in ’06 and ’08. We won dozens of improbable congressional elections in states and districts that normally would tack Republican, and that effect trickled down to other offices. You add to that the fact that we would take office in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression, and it was apparent, from Day One, that we had nowhere to go but down.”

The first signs of the slowly unfolding debacle that has meant the decimation of the Democratic Party nationally began early—with the special election of Scott Brown to Ted Kennedy’s empty Senate seat in Massachusetts. That early loss, even though the seat was won back eventually by Elizabeth Warren, presaged the 2010 midterms, which saw the loss of 63 House and six Senate seats. It was disaster that came as no surprise to the White House, but also proved a signal of what was to come.

The party’s record over the past six years has made clear that when Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017 the Democratic Party will have ceded vast sections of the country to Republicans, and will be left with a weak bench of high-level elected officials. It is, in fact, so bleak a record that even if the Democrats hold the White House and retake the Senate in 2016, the party’s wounds will remain deep and enduring, threatening the enactment of anything like a “progressive” agenda across much of the nation and eliminating nearly a decade’s worth of rising stars who might help strengthen the party in elections ahead.

The really weird part is that nowhere in the entire piece do I see the words “Debbie Wasserman Schultz” who, as chair of the DNC, would ostensibly be the person in charge of the election strategies and GOTV tactics that Greenfield is complaining about, but I guess Greenfield has never met her or something.

Also, there is the small matter of the impressive number of Democrats who lost by running as far away from Barack Obama as possible in 2010, 2012, and 2014 but no, the problem is of course Obama.

That’s the Beltway wisdom, and it will be for a very, very long time.

 








A Claire And Present Victory

Why yes, Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill wanted to make sure that Rep. Todd Akin won the 2012 Missouri GOP primary so that she could kick his ass in the general, and at this point she’s bragging to WIN THE MORNING about how she helped make that happen.

Akin’s track record made him my ideal opponent. Many of his votes in Congress contradicted his claim of being a fiscal conservative. While he opposed President Barack Obama’s authority to raise the debt limit, during the Bush administration, in 2004, he had voted to raise the limit by $800 billion. A vocal opponent of the Obama administration’s stimulus efforts, in 2001 Akin had voted in favor of a $25 billion stimulus package that mostly benefited large corporations and the wealthy. And he was a big earmarker: in one fiscal year he sponsored or cosponsored $14 million worth of pork and once sought $3.3 million in a special appropriation for a highway near nine acres he owned and was planning to develop. While opposing spending money for child nutrition programs, veterans’ health benefits, and disaster relief, he repeatedly voted to raise his own salary.

His extreme positions on social issues and ridiculous public statements made him anathema to many independent voters. He sponsored an amendment that would define life as beginning at conception, thereby outlawing common forms of birth control. He voted against repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” legislation. When the Affordable Care Act was being debated, he stood on the House floor and asked for God’s help in keeping the nation from “socialized medicine.” In 2008, he claimed in a House floor speech that it was “common practice” for doctors to conduct abortions on women “who were not actually pregnant.” He had made speeches calling for America to pull out of the United Nations and claiming the government had “a bunch of socialists in the Senate” and a “commie” in the White House.

So how could we maneuver Akin into the GOP driver’s seat?

Using the guidance of my campaign staff and consultants, we came up with the idea for a “dog whistle” ad, a message that was pitched in such a way that it would be heard only by a certain group of people. I told my team we needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad—and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him. And we needed to run the hell out of that ad.

My consultants put together a $1.7 million plan. Four weeks out we would begin with a television ad boosting Akin, which my campaign consultant Mike Muir dubbed “A Cup of Tea.” The production costs were pretty low, about $20,000, because we didn’t have to film anything. We just used pictures and voice-overs. We would spend $750,000 at first and run it for eight or nine days. Then we’d go back into the field and test to see if it was working. If it was, we’d dump in more “McCaskill for Senate” money, and we’d add radio and more TV in St. Louis and Kansas City. The second TV buy would approach $900,000. We hoped that some of our friends watching the TV ads would catch on and some of the outside groups would augment the last week with mail and radio. Sure enough, a radio ad calling Akin “too conservative” that went on the air in the closing days of the primary was paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. We would later find out that their rural radio buy was $250,000.

As it turned out, we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent on his whole primary campaign.

Not sure how I feel about this.  On one hand, buying a general election opponent just to clean their clock is something a good politician shouldn’t have to do.

On the other hand, it worked and most importantly, McCaskill is in the Senate and Todd Akin is most certainly not, and I’m frankly more than okay with that.

Given the fact that a similar situation is shaping up here in Kentucky for governor this November, if Republican primary voters want to put the craziest mofo up to run against a Democrat in a red state, well I’m not going to stop them.  And if ad buys by the Democrat help make that happen, well it wouldn’t be the first time.

We’ll see if Jack Conway can pull off the win against Matt Bevin here in Kentucky the same way Claire McCaskill beat Todd Akin.








Dems Playing Offense On The Defense Spending Bill

Team WIN THE MORNING is hand-wringing over Sen. Harry Reid’s plan to play hardball with domestic spending with the GOP (emphasis mine)

Senate Democrats are ready to follow through on a risky strategy to confront Republicans this week over government spending, shrugging off Republicans’ assertions that blocking a military funding bill amounts to “political suicide.”

It’s a gut-check moment for Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and his successor-in-waiting, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who aim to force Republicans to increase domestic spending by killing every GOP-written funding bill until they extract some concessions.

The scheme will work only if all 46 members of their caucus are pulling in the same direction. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hopes to tempt some defense-minded Democrats to vote with Republicans by putting forward a national security spending bill as his opening move in the chess game, followed by other tough votes on military construction and veterans affairs.

Despite the risk of being labeled soft on national security, Reid and chief message-man Schumer have largely persuaded moderates and liberals to stick with the filibuster strategy and block the $576 billion Department of Defense funding bill as early as this week, according to top Democratic sources. That’s an aggressive move, given that defense spending has historically been a bipartisan endeavor.

Why, you would think that Republicans were the voice of reason here and that Democrats were the loose cannon insurgents ready to shut down the government. Somehow, I think that’s the point of the article.

Fainting couch sale special this weekend. Clutchable pearls not included.








Gray Matters

Rich Lowry, in WIN THE MORNING Magazine, with the candlestick, on #BlackLivesMatter.

Let’s be honest: Some black lives really don’t matter. If you are a young black man shot in the head by another young black man, almost certainly no one will know your name. Al Sharpton won’t come rushing to your family’s side with cameras in tow. MSNBC won’t discuss the significance of your death. No one will protest, or even riot, for you. You are a statistic, not a cause. Just another dead black kid in some city somewhere, politically useless to progressives and the media, therefore all but invisible.

The same Memorial Day weekend during which there were nearly 30 shootings and nine mostly young people were murdered in Baltimore, demonstrators were out in force, blocking traffic — not to protest the shootings, of course, but the state of Maryland funding a youth jail in a city that rather desperately needs a youth jail.

When April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Networks asked White House spokesman Josh Earnest on Tuesday what can be done about violence in places like Baltimore, Earnest first suggested passage of more gun-safety laws — even though Baltimore already has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country.

When Ryan followed up with a query premised on more summer jobs and rec centers as a short-term answer to the shootings, Earnest referred her to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as those of Labor and Education. It was the blind questioning the blind.

Le sigh, le moan.

Race-derailment-bingo

 

Pretty sure Starburst Rich here has the full card covered by the halfway point in the tirade, but then again, I think that was his point.



A Hard Shove To The Left

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is gearing up for a new national progressive agenda based on what he’s been able to do so far in the Big Apple, and he’s expected to announce it next week.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, using his muscular perch to try to nudge the national Democratic Party to the left, next week will unveil a 13-point progressive agenda that he hopes will be the left’s answer to the Contract with America, which helped propel Newt Gingrich and the Republican revolution of 1994.

On Tuesday, de Blasio will hold a 3 p.m. news conference outside the U.S. Capitol with labor leaders, Democratic lawmakers and liberal activists to unveil his “Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality.”

The manifesto includes the ideas of economist Joseph Stiglitz and dozens of other leaders and thinkers consulted by the de Blasio team.

Among the planks is a universal pre-kindergarten program, DeBlasio’s signature policy since he took office on Jan. 1, 2014. Other elements are aimed at helping working people ($15 minimum wage) and working parents (paid family leave), and proposals for “tax fairness” (increasing the tax on carried interest, a huge issue for private equity).

De Blasio convened a group of a dozen national progressives at Gracie Mansion on April 2, and they discussed ideas for addressing income inequality. Among the advisers present was John Del Cecato of AKPD Message and Media, who made de Blasio’s campaign commercials, including the famous “Dante” ad.

Then the conversation extended to others — economists, elected officials and activists.

De Blasio advisers say that more than 60 big names have signed on, including Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.); Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.); Marian Wright Edelman and Howard Dean; national labor leaders; and actors Susan Sarandon and Steve Buscemi.

Rolling Stone has a preview of de Blasio’s new drive in the forthcoming May 21 issue, which has a 7½-page spread, “The Mayor’s Crusade: Bill de Blasio is trying to remake America’s biggest city — and he doesn’t plan to stop there.”

I’m actually very glad to see a concerted effort to push the Overton window to the left. Right now American politics seems to consist of “And how shall we choose to punish the poors this time around, m’lord” and a big effort to reframe the entire debate is way overdue.

The pushback on this is going to be enormous, but putting these issues into the 2016 arena is absolutely necessary.

More of this, please.  This is how we can help get both more and better Democrats elected at the state and national level.