Dems’ advice to Team Obama
- Last Updated: 12:48 AM, June 19, 2012
- Posted: 10:28 PM, June 18, 2012
One little-known fact about the world of journalism is that news organizations prepare obituaries of famous people while those people are still alive, so that packages of material will be ready to go when a death is announced.
Over the past week, journalists have been writing articles that have the quality of these sorts of pre-obituaries — only the event they’re anticipating isn’t the last breath of an individual but the defeat of President Obama’s re-election bid.
Even more striking, these journalists aren’t conservatives indulging in their deepest wish, but rather liberals who admire Obama and want to see him win a second term.
Al Hunt, who was for decades the voice of liberal conventional wisdom as the Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, declared yesterday in his Bloomberg column that Obama “needs an intervention.”
Channeling the view of a dozen unnamed leading Democrats, Hunt said “the central challenge” is for Obama to craft “a compelling narrative from the president and campaign, which [these Democratic sages] describe as unusually insular and arrogant.”
The Obama people won’t listen, he complained: “Any outreach by Obama’s Chicago acolytes to hear out these arguments is limited and superficial. A longtime Democratic strategist predicts defeat unless there is some boldness.”
E.J. Dionne — perhaps Obama’s most devoted op-ed-writing fan — reported that campaign honcho David Axelrod was finding it necessary to buck up the staff because it has become clear their guy may lose. “Obama,” Dionne lamented, “is not blessed with the opportunity to be simple.”
Romney, you see, can be simple because he can say Obama’s policies haven’t worked. What a gyp!
Obama, Dionne continued, “has to show that he knows things are bad for a lot of people but also insist that his policies made things a whole lot better than they would have been. He has to argue that the Republicans are blocking his proposals to improve the economy, but he doesn’t want to look like a politician inventing an alibi.”
All of the president’s good work — which, in the view of these writers, includes the stimulus and ObamaCare — is simply too difficult to defend in the face of the “easy” Romney attacks.
This behavior should be familiar to anyone familiar with the behavior of political journalists from time immemorial — and it should worry Obama supporters.
Well-run, well-managed campaigns are chronicled admiringly. Poorly-run and ill-considered campaigns are the recipients of massive amounts of unwanted, unsolicited and annoying advice.
And part of the reason for the copious quantity of advice is to allow the adviser to say “I told you so” when his counsel is disregarded and the candidate loses.
Hunt’s piece suggests the frustration in dealing with White Houses and re-election campaigns that don’t know how much trouble they’re in. Every president and his team seem to remain absurdly calm and preposterously sure of themselves even as the political winds are shifting.
The odd habit of taking a cat nap on the subway track while the IRT is bearing down on you at 60 miles an hour isn’t unique to this administration. In 1993, I wrote a book, “Hell of a Ride,” that chronicled the suicide of the George H.W. Bush presidency in part due to the excess of calm inside the White House bubble.
The same self-destructive calm was in effect in 1994, when Bill Clinton’s party was shocked to find itself decimated by the Republicans in the midterm elections; in 2006, when George W. Bush’s party was similarly thumped — and in 2010, when Barack Obama’s party was shellacked.
To be sure, the Obamaites have revealed they’re not entirely without a pulse, as the president’s audacious declaration on Friday that he would simply not enforce immigration laws on around 1 million people demonstrated. That was a nervy move, designed to secure political advantage with Hispanic voters and put Romney in a difficult position.
Now, I think Obama is right that, as a matter of policy, the United States should make special provision for those brought to the United States as children by illegal-immigrant parents. But it is wrong, and possibly unconstitutional, for a president to arrogate to himself the power to pick and choose which laws his administration is going to enforce.
That is banana-republic stuff. Of course, you’ll never hear his acolytes saying so. They’re too worried about him losing to object to questionable behavior on a matter as inconsequential as the rule of law.Follow @NYPostOpinion