The Left turns on Obama
Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2011 8:01 pm
By: Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
By DICK MORRIS
and EILEEN McGANN
The pathetic performance of President Obama in the debt debate is showing the left how incompetent and weak the leader they selected is. Many are wishing they had Hillary Clinton in the White House instead! Once Obama has to move beyond a set teleprompter speech, he is lost. During the BP disaster, he showed what a poor administrator he is and now he has belied any pretensions to legislative skill. He is the un-Lyndon Johnson.
The consequences of this disillusionment will be profoundly felt in the 2012 election. Republicans and Independents will vote against Obama with their hands. Democrats and liberals will do so with their feet — by staying home. Turnout was the key to Obama’s 2008 electoral majority. The vote among the under 30-year-old Caucasians, African-Americans and Latinos set new records. Obama won, after all, about the same share of the Caucasian vote — in total — that Gore did in 2000. It was only because the Caucasian youth turnout offset defections by its middle aged and elderly. The African-American turnout rose from 11- to 14-percent and Latino votes rose by 1.5 points. It was from these fluctuations that he was able to win. Any diminution of the white-hot intensity of enthusiasm that animated his 2008 election will cost him dearly in the upcoming 2012 election.
Compare the performance of Bill Clinton in the 1995-1996 government budget crisis with that of Obama in the latest skirmish. In Clinton campaign tracking polls, the president’s approval rating rose from 40 percent in May of 1995 to 54 percent in January of 1996. This 14-point increase has its opposite equivalent in Obama’s plunge from 55 percent approval in May of 2011 to 40 percent approval in late July in the Gallup polling. Clinton and Obama’s approval ratings rose and fell by nearly identical amounts.
For Clinton, the standoff was a chance to show his strength. No Republican ever believed the president with a reputation for indecisiveness and wanting-to-please would ever stand up to them. But Clinton did, day after day, hammering away at his position and defending it against all comers. Obama had no plan and his position shifted by the hour. First, he wanted a clean debt limit increase with no budgetary attachments. Then, he would settle for cuts, but only minor ones. Then, he signed on for major cuts as long as there were tax increases to go with them. Finally, he abandoned it all and asked only that the deal last until after the election, so he would not have to go through this process again.
Clinton reaped great credit with Independents and moderates for fashioning a third way between liberal demands for deficits and conservative cuts in Medicare. Obama’s attempts to portray himself as pushing a “balanced approach” proved laughable in view of his surrender at the end. His attempt at negotiations resembled a surrender far more than a compromise. He’s no Henry Clay.
Finally, while Clinton earned the respect of his party’s left wing by his confrontation with Newt Gingrich, Obama has garnered only contempt from his colleagues for his craven inability to prevail despite holding a formidable array of cards in his hand.
That House Speaker John Boehner polled lower than Obama during the confrontation is scant comfort. Boehner is not running for president. When Clinton prevailed in 1996, it was against Bob Dole who was not only the senate majority leader, but was also his opponent for re-election. Clinton and Dole were, indeed, locked in a zero sum game. It does nothing for Obama if Boehner’s ratings drop.
Now Obama will have a devil of a time replenishing the enthusiasm that led his march to victory in 2008. He will instead meet with the same tepid support from his base that doomed Carter in 1980 and Bush Sr. in 1992. His voters are discovering that there is no there .
Dick Morris, a Fox News commentator, was a long-time advisor to President BIll Clinton.
Published in The Messenger 8.4.11