The New York Times published an editorial today, noting the danger that Democrats posed to themselves by distancing from and just plain dissing Barack Obama.
The Times says the danger is that by appearing to agree with Republicans, and most Americans, that Barack Obama is a failure, and worse, an incompetent, Democratic candidates weaken their own message.
Why? Because as President Obama said earlier this month:
"Now, I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle is pretty happy about that. (Laughter.) But make no mistake: These policies are on the ballot—every single one of them."
Every single Democrat owns the policies and programs pushed by Obama.
The Times argues that should be a plus for Democrats:
"There is much that is going right in this country, and there is still time for Democrats to say so."
But the few things the Times can point to are not exactly counted as positive accomplishments by most Americans:
1. "Few voters know that the 2009 stimulus bill contributed heavily to the nation’s economic recovery, saving and creating 2.5 million jobs."
The reason why nobody cares, much less believes, that the stimulus bill saved America, is that, because Obama failed to push through a sufficiently vigorous bill, with real incentives to increase employment and address underemployment, the main beneficiaries of this spending program were corporations and wealthy Americans. The long, extremely painful and destructive "recovery" was characterized by the worst post-recession employment rebound in the nation's history. Millions of Americans simply stopped looking for work, because nobody would hire them, and as a consequence the unemployment rate in the USA improved steadily (and misleadingly) as these workers were no longer counted. Of course, for many of them, they were counted another way—as part of the burgeoning number of Americans newly arrived in poverty.
Add this to the fact most Americans understand "stimulus" and "bailout" to basically mean the same thing, and it is understandable why Democrats don't want to talk about it.
2. "Similarly, the Affordable Care Act, one of the most far-reaching and beneficial laws to have been passed by Congress in years, gets little respect even among the Democratic candidates who voted for it."
Of course, you probably know this Affordable Care Act by its real name—Obamacare—a name originally pasted onto it by Republicans and, prior to the disastrous rollout of the ACA, for a while embraced by Obama and the Democrats. The problem with Obama is not just his total failure to stand his ground on key policy points—so for example he tossed away his pledge to avoid an individual mandate in his health care program—but it is the way he simply lies to people to tamp down their opposition.
So, for example, Obama plainly told Americans that if they liked their health care (usually low cost health care) they could keep it under Obamacare. That turned out to be a lie. Many Americans saw their health care coverage canceled and they were forced into high-cost policies under Obamacare. Furthermore, as the Times itself recently pointed out, many Americans cannot use the insurance they have been forced to buy. Why? Because the huge deductibles people have to pay with their Obamacare packages mean they cannot afford to go to the doctor. Some benefit, huh?
And it isn't like Americans, and the Democrats who forced this stupid, Republican, health-care plan on them, don't understand that. So, it makes a lot of sense that no Democrat, especially in heavily Republican states, is going to be much interested in yapping about Obamacare.
And then of course there is the problem of what else Obama has accomplished, or the greater context of his deeds (or crimes and misdemeanors).
1. Obama's fawning embrace of war and slaughter—contrary to what Mr. Hope and Change promised, Barack Obama has seldom met a war or a war crime he does not love. From refusing to prosecute Bush-era kidnapping and torture operations (because it would make the CIA sad), to droning down scores of innocents because hey, if you're going to make some terrorist omelets, you're going to have to blow up some babies, Obama has plenty of reasons to have gone so gray in the hair and the countenance. Thinking about rotting in Hell for eternity is likely a little upsetting.
2. Obama's even more shocking 69 with the NSA and the US spy-thug regime. Obama obviously thinks the Bill of Rights is just a set of interesting but highly ignorable suggestions. As Obama amped up Bush's wholesale crushing of the privacy rights and Fourth Amendment rights of 300 million Americans, his henchpeople lied to Congress, lied to the American people, and lied to the FISA court that was supposed to be the watchdog insuring that the Constitution would not be used as it has been—like toilet paper to wipe the stinking butts and brains of spies. The patriot Edward Snowden revealed the truth to the world. Of course Obama wants Edward Snowden dead. That's all we need to know about the traitor, Barack Obama.
3. Obama's deep commitment to incompetence. OK, so it's one thing that Barack Obama is such a liar, such a war-mongering jerk, such a hateful treasonous bastard for treating Americans like servants of the NSA and the spy regime, but forget all that for a moment and just consider how horribly incompetent Barack Obama is at doing his job. From totally misreading and mishandling the Arab Spring, to fucking up the Obamacare rollout, to missing the signals about Putin, to missing the signals about Islamic State, and then creating one of the dumbest war strategies in the history of the world, to failing to take Ebola virus sufficiently seriously, Obama and his hapless minions seem most apt in finding new ways to completely fuck shit up.
Another Times article discusses the impact of this flood of government ineptitude, which undercuts the paper's own Obama-supporting editorial with a blow by blow explanation for America's sinking sense of self esteem and hope. And all of that, rightly, stops on the desk of Barack Obama—except in his spin of things, that is never the case.
Obama came into office with one of the biggest passes ever afforded to any president. You can call it affirmative action (many Republicans do), but the fact is for years most Americans were willing to forgive Obama concerning the execrable state of America's economy and foreign policy, because they knew those things had gone so horribly wrong under the reign of George W Bush and the Republicans.
And as a consequence, Obama got used to never having to fight to defend his failures or his alleged successes. It was always Bush's fault. Also, unfortunately, for Obama it was also too often Bush's credit, as Obama too often embraced, rather than rejected, Bush's foreign policy especially.
Four years ago, Barack Obama went to Maryland to campaign for Governor Martin O'Malley.
Then Obama begged the crowd:
"What the other side is counting on, the other side is counting on, is that this time around you’re going to stay home. They’re counting on your silence. They’re counting on amnesia. They’re counting on your apathy, especially the young people here. They don't believe you’re going to come out and vote. They figure Obama is not on the ballot; you’re not going to come out and vote."Yep, things have changed that much.
Then Obama begged the crowd:
"So I know times are tough. And I know we’re a long way from the hope and the excitement we all felt on election night and inauguration day. But we always knew this was going to take time. We always knew it was going to be hard. I said it was going to be hard. Change has always been hard."Four years ago, maybe Obama had some chance of convincing Americans that tough times were just going to take a while to fix and that they should be patient. But six years into his presidency, with tough times having evaporated for corporations and rich Americans, what is Obama going to say—that he's just too powerless and incompetent to fight the fixed game the American system obviously is?
The American people already know that all too well.
The question for them now, and it is a question pretty much impossible to answer, is who to blame and how to blame them. Voting in Republicans is far more a punishment of the American people than of Democrats. Yet, that may be what Americans choose to do. The electoral choice, the electoral remedy, has plainly lost its potency to make things better.