The Problem of Exaggerated Expectations

Hendrick Hertzberg reflects on the added burden created by President Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Barack Obama has come very far very fast. Five years ago, not long after finishing a distant second for a Chicago congressional nomination, he was still one of the hundred and seventy-seven members of the Illinois state legislature. Four years ago, he took his seat in the United States Senate, ushered there not only by his own undoubted talents but also by the serial self-destruction of his opponents. One year ago, he won the Presidency with a margin of victory — nine and a half million votes — that was the largest since 1984; absent the tailwind provided by his predecessor’s abysmal record, however, that margin would have been far smaller, possibly even nonexistent. He is certainly one of fortune’s favorites.”

“Lately, though, his supporters have been experiencing a vague sense of disappointment. He may have saved the world from a second Great Depression and all that, but the jobless rate keeps on climbing, the planet keeps on heating up, Guantánamo keeps on not getting closed, and roadside bombs keep on exploding. He’s had eight whole months, and he still hasn’t signed a comprehensive health-care bill. Given that his perceived political problem is exaggerated expectations, does he really need a Nobel Peace Prize before he has actually made any peace?”

In Praise of Congress?

Even though a recent poll finds congressional approval at just 21%, Jill Lawrencenotes that this Congress is unpopular for trying to fix problems.

“The irony is that this plunge comes at a time when many in Congress are doing just what politicians should do and what President Obama has asked of them: Instead of veering from ‘shock to trance’ in a reactive mode, as he once put it, they are trying to deal with large, complicated, long-term problems such as soaring health costs, millions of uninsured, oil dependence, climate change, new regulations for Wall Street and — not least — severe recession and job losses.”

Graham as the New McCain

First Read: “Anyone else noticed that Lindsey Graham is more likely to sound like John McCain these days than John McCain? He, more than McCain, this year has shown a tendency to do two things McCain made famous over the last decade: buck his party (see Sonia Sotomayor vote) and talk bluntly about former President Bush.”

For instance, on Meet The Press yesterday, Graham faulted Bush for being too close to Afghan President Hamid Karzai: “As the Karzai government failed, President Bush, in my view, did not push him enough. You had ambassadors on the ground, and military commanders going to Karzai, pushing him very hard on governance, and President Bush would talk to Karzai and, quite frankly, undercut the effort.”  Graham added: “President Obama is smart to push Karzai.” 

“It’s a pretty damning statement for a Republican to say the previous president undercut efforts by the rest of the American team in Afghanistan, at least on the civilian/diplomatic side of things. While McCain has become a more predictable foe of this administration (check out his voting record, btw), Graham, himself close to McCain, has, at a minimum, set himself apart a bit as an unpredictable critic.”

What’s With the @#%! Language?

Politico: “Those who pay attention to political rhetoric say an unusual amount of profanity has emanated from this White House – even without counting famously colorful White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel. But before this statement becomes fodder for yet another partisan debate (with conservatives saying Obama is disgracing the presidency, and liberals that the media are once again being unfair), they quickly add that Team Obama is no crasser than administrations past. It’s just that they are being quoted more accurately.”

Clinton Says She Will Not Run Again

For the first time, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in an interview that she would not run for president again. 

Clinton said “No” three different times when asked “Will you ever run for president again? Yes or No?”

Read more…

Schwarzenegger Pick Could Help Campbell

The Los Angeles Times notes former Rep. Tom Campbell (R-CA) doesn’t have the financial resources of his wealthy challengers for California’s GOP gubernatorial nomination. But what if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) gave Campbell with a “priceless” ballot title: Lieutenant Governor? 

“The office is expected to be vacated soon. The incumbent, Democrat John Garamendi, is favored to win a congressional seat in a special election on Nov. 3. His replacement would be appointed by the governor. Campbell was Schwarzenegger’s finance director in 2005 and the two share similar ideologies, if not styles.”

When asked if he’s talked to Schwarzenegger about the job, Campbell says, “I’m going to keep my conversations confidential.”

Obama Approval Jumps

Like other national polls have found in recent days, the Gallup daily tracking pollfinds President Obama’s approval rate shooting up to 56%.

Is this a Nobel Peace Prize effect? Or, are Republican attacks on health care reform losing their effectiveness?

Republicans Seek to Make Election About Pelosi (Again)

“Republicans are stepping up attacks on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, deciding that a major part of their 2010 electoral strategy will be linking Democratic candidates to her,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

A recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found 44% of respondents had negative feelings about Pelosi and 27% had positive ones, with the remaining 29% either neutral or not sure.

The only problem with the strategy: It’s the exact same approach they tried in 2006 when Democrats regained control of Congress and in 2008 when Democrats increased their majorities.

Democrats Must Go On Offense to Win

“Now that Democrats control the White House, Congress and most governorships, voters’ discontent with the status quo represents their burden, which has Democratic strategists considering tactics to push back challengers,” the New York Timesreports.

Said pollster Geoff Garin: “Very often the instinct for an incumbent party is to defend and justify. But in this kind of environment, the best defense is a good offense. This needs to be a cycle where Republican vulnerabilities are a central part of the debate.”

Charlie Cook puts it more bluntly: “They’re going to have to play really rough. For the average Democratic Congressional incumbent, the opposition researcher will be the most important person in the campaign.”

Polling Boehner’s District

Even though House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) insists he hasn’t met anyone who supports a public option for health care reform, a newDailyKos/Research 2000 poll in his solidly Republican district finds 37% of his own constituents support one while 54% oppose such a plan.

Daily Pulse: Insurance Lobby Breaks with White House

Though the Obama administration’s fight to reform health care hasn’t been easy, this is the week it gets harder.

“After months of collaboration on President Obama’s attempt to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, the insurance industry plans to strike out against the effort on Monday with areport warning that the typical family premium in 2019 could cost $4,000 more than projected,” the Washington Postreports.

“The critique, coming one day before a critical Senate committee vote on the legislation, sparked a sharp response from the Obama administration. It also signaled an end to the fragile detente between two central players in this year’s health-care reform drama.”

Politico: “At the very least, expect to hear a lot more about the report from Republicans, who are looking to slow any kind of momentum for the Democratic health care reform proposals after the Congressional Budget Office’s positive analysis last week.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times notes that as the health care debate moves to the floor of Congress, “most of the serious proposals to fulfill President Obama’s original vow to curb costs have fallen victim to organized interests and parochial politics.”

Said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN): “The lobbyists are winning.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Candidates, National, Politics, Virginia

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