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Obama’s Failure to Recognize the Power of Ideas

If there is a defining moment to the Obama Administration, it occurred in the president’s “private meeting with congressional Democrats and Republicans on [his first] Friday [in office, when] Obama ended a philosophical debate over tax policy with the simple declaration that his opinion prevailed because ‘I won.’

He may well have set the tone for this fall’s campaign when almost exactly a year later when Obama said “the big difference here [the current election year] and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”  His “his personal popularity,” as Glenn Thrush put it, “would bail everybody out.”

Simply put, Obama thought he could sell his policies based on the power of his personality.  And his assumption wasn’t entirely groundless.  Based on one well-delivered speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, he saw himself rise from an obscure Chicago pol to the toast of the Democratic Party.

He could move millions to his cause merely by offering hope and promising change, inspiring them through his scripted eloquence and his winning smile.

Personality alone could not sell his policies.  Support for his health care overhaul declined the more he pressed for its passage.  Barack Obama just doesn’t realize the power of ideas.   (more…)

Harry Reid Responsible for Failure of DADT Repeal

UPDATE FROM BRUCE:  Even Clinton’s adviser on gay issues blames the Democrats, Obama and the Gay Borg for this disaster.

“The Democrats have been against ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ for more than a decade and why we allowed this law to remain in effect for another two years is beyond me,” said Richard Soccarides, who served as an adviser to Clinton on gay rights. “The Washington-based gay rights groups made a decision early on that they were better off going along with the president’s timeline and that right now that looks like a serious miscalculation.”


In 1993, then-President Bill Clinton moved too quickly in trying to overturn the ban on gay people serving in the military, seeking to effect the change in the first days of his Administration.  President Barack Obama — or at least his party’s Senate leadership — made the opposite mistake, waiting until election season was well underway to vote on repeal.

The former president wasn’t prepared for the media firestorm.  The current Democrats let the issue become a political football.

It seems neither really had a political strategy to seek repeal.  There were times, though, particularly at the beginning of this year where the Administration did seem to have a plan, dispatching, in February, “the nation’s top two defense officials,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, to Capitol Hill to press for repeal of Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell (DADT).  Having learned from Clinton’s mistakes, the incumbent president wisely sought to work with the military, having them make the case.

But, they didn’t have a timetable for a vote.

And that made it more difficult for pro-repeal groups to rally their troops and to try to persuade wavering lawmakers, particularly Republicans, of the merits of repeal.  While John McCain has not distinguished himself in the current debate, walking back from his previous position that he would listen to military leaders on repeal, Harry Reid deserves the brunt of the blame.  Were he sincere about repeal, he would have pressed the Senate to act soon after the House voted on repeal in May.

Then, by tacking the controversial DREAM Act onto the “defense policy bill” onto which he had already tacked DADT repeal, Reid made passage even more difficult.  Republicans Susan Collins (Maine) “voted to block the bill for procedural reasons despite supporting the provision to” allow repeal of’ DADT.  Scott Brown (Massachusetts) offered a similar rationale, saying “his vote against considering the bill was not necessarily an endorsement of keeping the ‘don’t ask’ policy, but a protest against Democratic political maneuvering to limit debate while adding unrelated amendments.

Reid’s political machinations cost him the support of Republicans favorable to repeal. (more…)

Did “stimulus” take steam out of recovery?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:36 am - September 22, 2010.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Economy

On Monday, “The National Bureau of Economic Research,” the folks who decide these things, informed us that the Bush-Pelosi-Reid recession officially “ended in June 2009.

Over at AOL, John Merline notes that the trouble with this dating is that the downturn ended . . .

. . . just as the stimulus money started to get spent. According to the White House’s own 100-day stimulus report, issued at the end of May 2009, only $45.6 billion in spending and tax relief had gone out the door by then. In other words, less than 6 percent of the stimulus money was in the economy as the recession ended, making its role in stopping the downward spiral somewhat murky.

“This news,” he adds, “also makes it harder for Obama to blame President Bush for the nation’s current economic troubles.”  Obama may have “handed a terrible economy”* , but “the recession he inherited was just five months away from being over when he took office.”

Merline trots out a number of statistics to compare the current recovery to the Reagan recovery which begin in 2003 — right as his policies were kicking in:

Fourteen months after the 1981-1982 recession ended, the unemployment rate had dropped to 8 percent, the Consumer Confidence Index had soared to more than 103, and the economy was cooking along at an average 7.7 percent quarterly growth.

This time around, unemployment is stuck at 9.6 percent, consumer confidence is at a depressing 53.5, and economic growth since the recession ended has averaged a comparatively paltry 3 percent

This makes us wonder whether the “stimulus” and additional regulatory burden took steam out of a recovery that was just around the bend as Obama was taking the oath of office?

(H/t:  RealClearPolitics.)

* (more…)

Guess that means he’s written off 2010 already

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:35 am - September 22, 2010.
Filed under: 2010 Elections,2012 Presidential Election

Peter Beinart: 2012 Will Be a Debacle for the GOP