Monday, March 17, 2014

Is President Obama a lame duck?

Good morning. Unfortunately this is another day when it looks like the overseer at my salt mine employment wants to know in exact detail how much salt I've mined over the past month, where are the records and why didn't I mine more salt. So as a result this will be a short post but it is something that has been on my mind lately. Is President Obama a lame duck? Usually, lame duck status only accrues to a President in the final two years or less remaining of his term, after the November midterms, when his party has usually lost seats in the House or Senate or even if they haven't done so are looking forward, often for reasons of self-preservation, to the next political cycle, which by definition won't include the current President. Much like the lag period between a corporate boss announcing that they're retiring and the time at which they actually do so, people who used to toady to the boss or at least grudgingly offer respect to the position, may suddenly discover heretofore unknown independence of thought and action. The boss' requests may be ignored or slow-walked. If the boss was never much liked in the first place, open insubordination is not out of the realm of possibility. This is particularly true when the boss was not well plugged into the power structures of the company. Other power brokers can even subtly or not so subtly encourage such behavior, especially if your workplace is a real dog-eat-dog kind of environment. I've heard that Washington D.C. is such a place where the weak are killed and eaten, politically speaking.

Now as far as some more right-wing citizens were concerned of course the President lacked legitimacy in the first place so they saw him as a lame duck from the start despite being elected twice by comfortable margins. But some recent events and data should give the President and his supporters, if not fits, cause for serious concern.

President Obama hit a new low in support, according to an NBC/WSJ poll. President Obama’s job approval rating sank to a new low of 41 percent in a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll released Tuesday, forecasting political headwinds for the Democratic Party in the months leading up to November’s midterm elections.
Forty-eight percent of respondents in the survey said that they are less likely to vote for a candidate who is a solid supporter of of Obama, versus 26 percent who said they are more likely to support a candidate that supports the president. More than a third of respondents remained neutral, with 41 percent saying that their vote will have nothing to do with the president.

Now from a purely selfish standpoint this may not matter too much to the President. We don't have a parliamentary system with votes of confidence or party leaders being removed by their party. Short of impeachment and conviction President Obama will serve out his term. But this matters a great deal to Senate and House Democrats, who are starting to see less of a downside to opposing the President. This was made clear in the successful (and shameful) disposal of the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the similar ominous storm clouds gathering around the nomination of Vivek Murthy to be the Surgeon General. Now regardless of whether you think that either man would have been good at his job the point remains that it is Senate Democrats who either wavered or led the charge against both men. Those aren't the actions of people who think that President Obama is popular or that they need to worry about opposing the President. There is no price to pay for opposing President Obama. He talks tough but seems to be at a loss how to deal with determined opposition. Again, it is a little early to be having these sorts of problems with your own party. Part of this may be coming from a long held belief among some Democrats that President Obama has short coattails and so they have to look out for themselves, politically speaking. 
WASHINGTON — Democrats are becoming increasingly alarmed about their midterm election fortunes amid President Obama’s sinking approval ratings, a loss in a special House election in Florida last week, and millions of dollars spent by Republican-aligned groups attacking the new health law. The combination has led to uncharacteristic criticism of Mr. Obama and bitter complaints that his vaunted political organization has done little to help the party’s vulnerable congressional candidates. Interviews with more than two dozen Democratic members of Congress, state party officials and strategists revealed a new urgency about the need to address the party’s prospects. One Democratic lawmaker, who asked not to be identified, said Mr. Obama was becoming “poisonous” to the party’s candidates. 
At the same time, Democrats are pressing senior aides to Mr. Obama for help from the political network. When two senior White House officials — Jennifer Palmieri, the communications director, and Phil Schiliro, the health care adviser — went to the Capitol late last month to address Senate Democrats about the Affordable Care Act, they were met with angry questions about why Mr. Obama’s well-funded advocacy group, Organizing for Action, was not airing commercials offering them cover on the health law....
Surprise, surprise the PPACA has been driving some of the Democratic problems. Well I can't see the future but you may remember that I predicted that it would not work as designed, which is apparently why the President has been making so many changes to it. Time will tell if I'm wrong or not but if it was such a great plan there wouldn't have to be so many unilateral changes to it. Similar past changes to the REAL ID act and some deep discussions with our very own The Janitor have grudgingly convinced me that the President is probably still within his legal rights though he may be pushing up against the extreme limits. Different topic, different day. But anyway I don't think that pro-PPACA voters will be a serious factor in the midterm elections. Democrats know this which is why they are about two minutes away from hitting the abandon ship button. Still, as we've seen in the past, oftentimes the evil overlord plans don't work out. President Obama wasn't supposed to win in 2008 or 2012. But he did. Every time his rivals cackle that they've got him now he seems to thrive and win. So Democratic panic may be real but it also may be overstated. I can't call it. Well I could but I'd rather know what you think.

Is President Obama a premature lame duck?

Are some Democrats correct to distance themselves from the President?

Do you think Republicans can retake the Senate?

How can the President keep Senate Democrats moving in his direction?

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