Despite a weekend Rasmussen report showing a post State of the Union uptick in Strong Approval for Mr. Obama, the president’s performance last Wednesday was a setback for the Administration.
Yes, Democrats liked it. A large block of Democratic Party loyalists moving from neutral or weakly supportive to strong support was the reason for the jump in the president’s numbers. But Democrats are not the key to this coming November’s ballot. Independents are. And according to Rasmussen, Independents were less favorable toward this White House than ever in Saturday’s polling. By that measure, the speech was a failure.
This was bad news for the strange political bedfellows that make up the president’s core of glitterati support. These include: the Congressional Democratic leadership; unions, trial lawyers, and the leftist menagerie that allies itself with them; various global elites, including in European elites and many global journalists.
Now the Sunday papers bring unsettling stories of a kind of anti-democratic (note the small “d”) backlash building in these quarters.
The first report has to do with the healthcare overhaul. In the aftermath of Massachusetts’ stunning vote, many vulnerable Democrats in the House and Senate understood correctly that they were seeing voter (and particularly Independent voter) rejection of healthcare legislation as the Democrats have pursued it. But the White House and the Democratic Party leadership held otherwise, and now, it appears, they are making plans to slip the legislation through Congress later this year.
Per a report in Sunday morning’s Los Angeles Times (http://tinyurl.com/yg4hmba), the Democratic Congressional leadership intends to hold back the legislation for a cooling off period, then bring it back. They will wage a public relations campaign for passage in the meantime.
This report tracks what I heard at a small dinner of people prominent on both sides the health overhaul debate this past week. A very senior and eminent Democrat spoke seriously of either putting the Senate bill to a vote in the House or using the reconciliation process to push through the legislation. In other words, in the face of 54 percent disapproval of the legislation in the voting public, the Democratic leadership is ready to jam the legislation through Congress, if possible when no one is focused.
This is exactly the kind of my-way-or-the-highway attitude that the president displayed in answering the questions of the House GOP caucus this week. Mr. Obama was very likeable and articulate. He probably won points with Independents who watched, as did the GOP members, I believe, for the way they handled themselves.
But Mr. Obama’s refusal to credit any GOP policy proposals other than the line item veto and his cheap shot (on which he was called by Indiana Congressman Mike Pence) suggesting that the GOP had no policies of substance to offer pointed in exactly the same direction as the L.A. Times story, towards ignoring the broad and intense opposition to the health provisions that the Democrats want to make law.
The second backlash story ran in Sunday’s Washington Post (http://tiny.cc/qYmyN). Columnist David Ignatius filed it from Davos, Switzerland. He reports that, at the global confab, international bankers were arguing against markets and for more bureaucratic regulation of the financial world. This sounds not just anti-market, but like importing Europe’s democracy deficit to the American capital markets. One way or the other, it means more unaccountable bureaucrats making more decisions. As Ignatius remarks: “I just wish I had more faith in regulators’ ability to solve problems.… Didn’t Fannie Mae have its own special regulator that was supposed to audit its books? Weren’t the most egregious speculators in 2008 the regulated banks?”
On Sunday’s ABC This Week, columnist for The New York Times Paul Krugman said that the choices were not between candidates but parties. He was trying to belittle the Massachusetts vote, saying that Bay State voters had picked Scott Brown because his opponent didn’t know the Red Sox roster, not because they opposed the president’s policies.
But if the Democrats are ready to make this a contest between agendas, it sounds good to me. Let’s go into every district that the GOP held in 2006 or 2008 and doesn’t now. Let’s carry Krugman’s message: A vote for any Democrat, no matter how moderate, is a vote for the radical leadership of Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid, and President Obama.
Davos isn’t the U.S. Congress, but the impulse to rig the system is running in the intimidated circles of elites in both quarters. The year ahead will be tumultuous. Much rides on the outcome of November’s voting.