An Out-of-Touch President

Let’s just make sure that we all understand what is going on here: The Democrats received a historic beating in the 2014 midterms, they have a depleted political talent pool as a consequence, the plight of House Democrats is real and horrible, and President Obama’s reply to all of this is “Don’t worry, be happy.”

For anyone expecting postelection contrition at the White House or vows to change course after a disastrous election for Democrats, President Barack Obama had one message Wednesday: Think again.

A day after Democrats lost control of the Senate and suffered big losses in House and governors’ races across the country, Obama struck a defiant tone. He defended his policies, stood by his staff and showed few signs of changing an approach to dealing with congressional Republicans that has generated little more than gridlock in recent years.

Rather than accept the election results as a repudiation of his own administration, the president said voters were disenchanted with Washington as a whole. And rather than offering dour assessments of his party’s electoral thrashing, as he did after the 2010 midterms, the president insisted repeatedly that he was optimistic about the country’s future.

[. . .]

The president’s sunny outlook stood in sharp contrast to the gloomy electorate. Most voters leaving polling places said they didn’t have much trust in government and felt the nation was on the wrong track. Those feeling pessimistic were more likely to vote for Republican congressional candidates, according to exit polls.

[. . .]

“I would enjoy some Kentucky bourbon with Mitch McConnell,” said Obama, who last year mocked the idea of having a drink with the GOP leader.

Then, offering a glimpse into how little time Obama has spent cultivating a relationship with McConnell over the past six years, the president added, “I don’t know what his preferred drink is.”

Those last two paragraphs really sum things up, don’t they? This president is not nearly the great politician his admirers make him out to be, he is bored with politics and with governing, and he has absolutely no idea how to follow Abraham Lincoln’s formula for destroying enemies by making those enemies into friends.

Ron Fournier has it right:

Shellacked and thumped by an angry electorate, President Obama declared to every American who voted in Tuesday’s elections—and to those who’ve checked out of the political process—”I hear you.”

And then he ignored them.

From all appearances Wednesday, the president won’t change—not his policies, not his style, not his staff, not nothing. Defiant and begrudging, the president said he would meet with GOP leaders, seek their suggestions for common ground, and maybe grab a drink with Senate Majority Leader-to-Be Mitch McConnell.

Beyond that, meh. “It’s probably premature” to consider personnel changes, Obama said when pressed by a reporter for the type of reflection and resetting undertaken by President Clinton after his 1994 midterm trouncing.

You know who is really upset by this kind of stance? People like Hillary Clinton, who must fear that another two years of the same old thing from the Obama administration will bring about another shellacking–this time, in 2016 and this time, affecting the next Democratic nominee for president of the United States. Maybe Republicans should let President Obama dig a rhetorical hole for himself and his party by pretending that the midterm elections were not nearly as bad for Democrats as everyone realizes them to be. The president seems determined to live in the Land of Denial, after all.

Comments

  1. How interesting would it be to assemble a group of veteran Democratic elected officials (senators, reps and governors, for instance) in a room and convince them to speak to each other frankly about Obama? The level of frustration–if not outright vitriol–would be something to see.

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