22 October 2014

Notes From Norm: Running the Wrong Way

When describing the President of the United States of America one would be hard-pressed to use the phrase “passive aggressive”.

Our notion of a President, regardless of which political party, is one of a robust, aggressive, dominant and action-oriented leader.

Yet, in the past couple of weeks our current President seems to going out of his way to do a bit of “gotcha” with members of his own party who are fighting for their very political lives.

Take for example the ill-advised comments from a few weeks ago:  “Make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them”

Before anybody could spell-check his comments, every Republican in a competitive race in America tied the President’s comments directly to their Democratic opponents.

Then, yesterday, the President offered these observations according to multiple media reports.

“The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress,” Obama said.

He continued: “So this isn't about my feelings being hurt. These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me. I tell them — I said, you do what you need to do to win. I will be responsible for making sure that our voters turn out.”

It’s clear that the President is toxic on the campaign trail. 

The President may not be much when it comes to governance, but it’s been proven through two national elections he knows how to campaign.

I suspect the President isn’t so happy that those who were eager to cling to his coattails in 2008 and 2012 have determined the Emperor has no clothes.

Multiple Democrats running for the U.S. Senate, or struggling to get re-elected, have done all they can to avoid answering whether or not they even voted for the President.

When you think it is more damaging to admit that you voted for someone than it is to avoid answering the question altogether, you know things are bad.

The President had to know that his first comments were going to be used against his party’s candidates in this year’s midterm elections.

Then, he clearly had to know that his second set of remarks were going to be the proverbial fork in the back of those candidates struggling to get out from under his horrendous poll numbers.

Why say them if you know they are going to hurt your fellow Democrats?

H.L. Mencken once remarked, “When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.”

The President says his comments about those who voted for his agenda “… isn't about my feelings being hurt.” 

I think it’s fair to say it is about his feelings being hurt.

Some have suggested that the President is deliberately undermining his party’s own candidates because he thinks he can govern more effectively with Republicans in charge of Congress than with Congress being controlled by Democrats.

Bill Clinton proved he governed better with Republicans than with members of his own party.

But, America knows Bill Clinton.

And Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton.

Something tells me this is more personal and deeper than any strategic sense that the President and his advisors have in their mind about the future of his Presidency.

The President’s mad.  There’s little going well for him these days.  While there remains a desperate core of the liberal elite that still fawns over this President (i.e., Paul Krugman’s suggestion that the Obama Administration has been one of the most successful in history.) there are more that are running as fast as they can away from him and his Administration.

Obviously the President can’t publicly attack those that are doing their best to hide from him.

Instead he’s killing them with kindness.

Praising their support of his policies.  Making it known that they were there with him every step of the way.  That a vote for them is a vote for him. 

The President says that his party’s candidates need to do what they have to do to win – including pretending he doesn’t exist between now and Election Day.

He also says that he is going to be responsible for driving turnout.

On October 25, 1964 Minnesota Vikings Defensive End Jim Marshall recovered a fumble and ran 66 yards with it the wrong way into his own team’s end zone.

While Marshall excitedly celebrated in the end zone, not understanding the damage he inflicted on his own team, the same cannot be said of this President.

He knows the game.  He also knows how it is played.

No matter how much his frantic Democratic allies wave at him from the sidelines trying to get him run the other way, he’s bound and determined to go his own way.

Which, in the end, has always been his way.