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The worm is turning on Obama

I’m getting that vibe.  It’s like the country is starting to realize that, Oh. My. God., we might be stuck with this loser for four more years.  How did this happen?  I have a hypothesis that the last time Americans picked a president was in 1996 but I’ll save that for another time.

What I’m surprised to see is how many opinion makers are now turning on him.  There was The Daily Show last week when Jon Stewart pointed out that a felon in the West Virginia primary got 40% of the Democratic primary votes.  There was Kristen Schaal disgusted with her choices this year and pleading, “Please run for Office, Hillary Clinton”.

And now we have Richard Cohen.  Wait, did he make the wanker of the decade list? Turns out he did coming in as 6th runner up.  Congratulations, Richard! Well, nevermind that, his latest column was unexpected.  Richard is basically saying, “Obama smells, he’s got no friends and nobody likes him.”

Last week I asked a member of the Senate if he knows of anyone who really knows Obama. He said he does not.

Washington is thick with stories about Obama’s insularity and distance. We hear how he does not listen to criticism — he sometimes just walks out of the room — and how he sticks to a tight circle of friends. His usual weekly golf game is mostly limited to the same people — and when he played a round with House Speaker John Boehner(R-Ohio), it was treated as an exceptional event. When, for whatever reason, Politico analyzed Obama’s golf outings (June 6, 2011), it found that Obama’s “golf circle has actually gotten much tighter over the past 212 years” — none of them politicians or, heaven forbid, journalists.

 [...]But Obama cannot or will not indulge in the sort of face-to-face politicking that Johnson so favored. He has not stroked important contributors — one bundler told me he never hears from Obama. As the New York Times put it recently in an article about his fundraising on Wall Street, Obama himself has “a reputation for being cold at small gatherings.” “I just don’t think he likes us,” one fundraiser is quoted as saying.

The best that can be said for Obama is that he treats everyone with about the same degree of distance. One important Democrat used the term “cuckoo-clock events” to refer to White House receptions where Obama robotically appears, says a minimal amount of words and then disappears. He does not mingle — or, if he does, it is as little as possible. Bill Clinton, in contrast, was the host from hell. The party never ended.

I highlighted all of the negative words and phrases.  Considering the length of the post, this many negative phrases should sound alarm bells for his campaign.  Reading this, you get the feeling that Obama is callous, cold, insensitive to the feelings of others, and really doesn’t like people.  He’s a bit of a misanthrope.    There’s even a comparison to Bill Clinton who seemed to be warm, gregarious and a people person. Cohen seems almost wistful about the endless party that was Bill.  Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…

There’s more to that column about LBJ.  I’m listening to Robert Caro’s book on Johnson, The Passage of Power, and I can definitely see the characteristics of JFK in Obama.  He’s surrounding himself with the smartest guys in the room who have absolutely no idea how to deal with Congress.  Like JFK, Obama spent most of his time in the Senate interviewing for his next job.  JFK never passed a significant piece of legislation and was not known to be a “workhorse”.  You could cut Kennedy a break because of his constant illnesses but what’s Obama’s excuse?  Four years ago, we here at The Confluence predicted that he would have trouble working legislation through Congress because he’d never really had to do it and how could it have been otherwise?

But what we have here in Cohen’s column is cocktail party talk.  This is the voice of the Village who now do not want Obama at their lunch table.  It’s sophomoric and petty but when the press starts to turn on you, it can get ugly fast. The New York Times is calling him “cold at small gatherings”.  That can’t be good.

The second worm that has turned as been Yves Smith.  I know she has been critical of Obama in the past but her post today makes it sound like her hair is on fire.  It’s hard to pick excerpts from Barack Obama, the Great Deceiver, the whole thing is good, so run over there and read it yourself.  Here’s a taste:

Engelhardt depicts a malevolent leader without using that word. It is hard to see a policy of drone strikes that have and will continue to kill innocents, a continuation of extraordinary renditions, and assassinations of American citizens merely suspected of terrorism, in any other light.

But his actions are detrimental not only for their overweening, super-hero-like force, but more often, for serving vested interests by being deliberately weak, badly watered down versions of real reforms (and correspondingly, notice how often Obama maintains he was boxed in by intransigent Republicans, when in fact they serve as convenient scapegoats for what he wanted to do anyhow?)

And by taking as much debate and energy as the genuine remedies, they prevent the topic from being revisited for years, if not decades. The frequently criticized Dodd Frank is one example, but the poster child is Obamacare. The program manages the difficult feat of worsening the fundamental problem of our health care system, which is bad incentives and resulting out-of-control costs. It enriched Big Pharma and the insurers rather than bringing them to heel. The result will be overpriced insurance that covers little. We’re seeing that start now as the FDA is looking into make a number of widely used drugs, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol medications, over the counter, which would mean they would not be covered by health care policies.

Readers of this blog are likely to argue that they have a jaded view of Obama, but still regard him as preferable to Romney. But they seem to fail to appreciate another layer of Obama’s deception, that his charm and unflappable demeanor mask his ruthlessness. It’s no accident that he chose Rahm Emanuel as his initial chief of staff, an enforcer and by all accounts one of the members of what was an unusually tight inner team. The Democrats are now indistinguishable from the Republicans in their mastery of Rovian playing on identity politics. Obama has also proven adept at neutralizing well positioned actual or potential threats, such as David Petraeus, Elizabeth Warren, and Eric Schneiderman.

People who answer polls may not want to say what they really think of Obama.  They don’t want to be called racists.  But it’s not about race.  It’s about getting the feeling that, somehow, you’ve been had.  Yes, I think malevolence is not too far off the mark.  It started in the primaries of 2008.  It was the hooliganism of his on the ground supporters at caucuses, the fact that he took his name off the ballot in Michigan in order to monkeywrench the primary process, that he never stood up for the voters of Florida and Michigan and how he and his party treated his competition at the convention, with contempt and driven to humiliate.  Those of us who were not starstruck watched it in horror because we couldn’t seem to stop it and make people come back to themselves.

Back then, Yves was a cautiously optimistic Obama supporter.  Not anymore.  And once you see what you’ve been trying to avoid, you can’t unsee it.

Expect more of the same over the next couple of weeks.  The reality of the next four years is setting in and so is the slowly escalating anxiety and fear of what’s to come.

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44 Responses

  1. So what would you have us do? I’ll be damned if I vote for Romney. I think the only way we can change anything is to get a strong majority in the Congress. Strong enough to over ride a presidential veto if necessary. To me it’s a ballot box revolution if that’s even possible with the wacky voting equipment that continues to change votes……always seems to be in favor of any republican on the ballot. We the People are getting the crap no matter what we do.

    • Hey, I didn’t vote for the lightbringer. I logged a protest vote last time. This time, I’m looking at third parties and picking one that seems to best fit my values. If Obama loses, Romney isn’t going to be much different. You’re right to concentrate on Congress. That’s where we’ll need help.
      I’m not going to tell anyone what to do. But you know what he is now so you shouldn’t be surprised by what you get from him. It is his nature.

      • No Bama for many of us this time.

        “He’s a bit of a misanthrope. ”

        Nah
        He is all sociopath.
        You may never get that but well, reality is a hard One.
        And so is the Electoral College!

        Breton

    • If the election looks the least bit close in Michigan, I’m voting for Romney. If the election looks like a landslide for either one of them in Michigan, I’m voting Third Party. It is Obama who must not be allowed to win. A Romney victory is an acceptable price to pay for an Obama defeat.

      And I will be voting for so-called “Democrats” downticket in hopes that Romney will be President and the so-called “Democrats” will maintain or extend their House-Senate presence. It would be their last chance to become Renew-The-Deal Democrats. It’s a test they deserve and an experiment we need to run.

    • We had a strong majority in congress. What good did it do? My solution is to do something that we have never done, vote for women.

      • Well . . . I will be voting for a Female Bodied Officeholder named Stabenow here in Michigan, but only because she is a so-called “Democrat” who could be tested by her response to a President Romney.

        If a Sahra Paylinn or some such were running for something in Michigan, I would vote against her views and plans on things and stuff.

  2. Yves, huh? Well, good. (What takes people so long?) Still, better late than never. Never being after Nov. 6th.

    You really think people might wake up to the con? I wonder if there’s any chance they’ll realize an unpleasant con man isn’t much of a risk compared to a charming one.

    • My impression is that Yves had been doing this for quite some time now . . . at least two years. Only the language is harsher now.

      After all, was it not Yves Smith who ran Matt Stoller’s earliest counter-Obama articles as well as other things?

  3. Yves, huh? Well, good. (What takes people so long?) Still, better late than never. Never being after Nov. 6th.

    You really think people might wake up to the con? I wonder if there’s any chance they’ll realize an unpleasant con man isn’t much of a risk compared to a charming one?

  4. Me?

    I’m gonna vote for whoever promises to impeach Nancy Pelosi.

  5. Does anyone whether the U.S. Pirate party is fielding a presidential candidate ? They are worth considering if they are anything like their European counterparts.

  6. nomittens, nobama

  7. Yesterday afternoon I was walking home down 1st avenue. It was about 5:20 PM and I needed my dinner badly. As I got to 23rd street intersection, police and barricades were containing a crowd that seemed to have collected for some time (it’s not such a busy area of the city). I immediately found out Obama was about to pass through. The crowd was quiet and grim. My stomach made me positively furious – nobody gets between me and my dinner – not a safe place to be. Eventually a very, very long motorcade showed up – I looked at the crowd rather that at the “event”. A few phone cameras went up. A hand or two. Most looked impatient like me. No sound. About 20 police cars followed the motorcade before we were finally allowed to go home. This was NYC, the place where he should have been cheered. And no doubt, he was here for fund raising, from Wall Street no doubt.

    • Interesting.

      That’s another big difference to JFK then. I was a kid, but I don’t think I’m misremembering the enthusiasm people felt for him. (I was a kid in MA, so there’s that.) What’s more, JFK vs Nixon was a very lukewarm, meh, sort of election. Newbie vs seasoned politician, etc., etc. The enthusiasm grew because of his behavior while President. Also a big difference.

      • I recently read “Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushcev and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth”. Good book, what was interesting was reading how much Kennedy grew while as president. For example, Khrushcev definitely got the better of Kennedy when they first met in 1961. Kennedy admitted afterwards that Khrushcev was the first person he ever met that he could not charm and it was quite a personal revelation. Khrushcev walked away from that meeting thinking that Kennedy was weak and pliable. Yet, when the Cuban Missile Crisis came around, it was Kennedy who was able to get Khrushcev to fold. I don’t see any evidence of Obama getting better at handling his adversaries.

        • It depends who Obama really thinks his adversaries really are. In reality, WE are Obama’s adversaries.

          Boehner and McConnell are Obama’s secret co-conspirators.

  8. Riverdaughter…? I’m sorry. Look, I know you’re going to hate me for this, and I’m honestly not trying to make you angry. But…it’s over. She isn’t going to run. She isn’t going to be president. Ever. It’s time for you to admit that fact to yourself.

    The next president is going to be either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. I’m not happy about that fact — AT ALL. But it is nevertheless a fact.

    And this may be the only blog on the net where this sentiment would be considered even slightly controversial.

    • Nonsense. You don’t know what the future will bring.
      Anything could happen. I’m not accepting the unacceptable. That’s the worst kind of passivity.
      BTW, this post wasn’t about Hillary. It was all about Obama and these are not normal election years.
      Remember what happened to the characters in the lord of the rings who looked too far into the future?
      They let it scare and depress them into doing nothing.
      I’m not going to do that.

      • I’d vote for Romney if he paid me $100,000. I’d vote for Hillary for much, much less. I wouldn’t vote for Bam again…. the “thin sliver” :)

        The future is complete marginalization.

      • As of May 9, Obama has secured 2,376 out of the 2,777 needed to win the Democratic Presidential nomination. If Hillary Clinton is going to challenge Obama for the 2012 nomination, she has very little time left to do so.

        The Oregon primary is today.

        • There is NO legal requirement that delegates vote as directed by the Primaries. And there is also NO requirement that the Chairman of the Delegation cast the votes as polled by the delegation. You don’t have to go all the way back to Humphrey in 1968 when he didn’t run in a single primary or caucus — Just look Hillary’s floor vote and ask the California & New Jersey Delegates how they cast their votes.

          There is nothing democratic about the Presidential selection process. Not from the beginning through the end.

          If opinion polls and party leadership made it imperative than Obama could drop out anytime before the convention. And be replaced by ANYONE. Anyone at all.

          • “…And be replaced by ANYONE. Anyone at all.”

            palin.

          • So you’re hoping for a swap-out?

          • Hoping for a swap out would be the wrong way to look at it.
            IIRC, and katiebird can set the record straight about this, it was about this time four years ago when the Democratic party and Obama campaign tuned up the volume on its haka and everyone who didn’t want to be called names started falling into line. There was no resistance, except for a few holdout bloggers. Lambert *almost* succumbed but he did a gut check and held out too. But everyone else fell, all the bloggers, columnists, people we thought were friends, activists, they all jumped on the bandwagon because they were afraid. And so nobody challenged the party and it got away with political murder. The country is living with the consequences of that. In the name of “unity”, the vast majority of party faithful stopped questioning, looked away from the primary skullduggery and held no one accountable for the overt misogyny against any woman that got in Obama’s way. In retrospect, I think we would have been a lot better off if we had not given in to that manufactured sense of inevitability about Obama. It should never be easy for him. He should be challenged to present his worldview for scrutiny. And if he doesn’t have one, or if the one he has doesn’t fit with yours, you shouldn’t vote for him and you shouldn’t be afraid to say it.
            If you do nothing, neither will he. Them’s your choices. You are NOT powerless. What makes us weak is that we do not stick together. We give in too easily. We call people like me crazy or naive or fantasists. But if we all put our foot down and didn’t listen to the haka and said “begone before someone drops a house on you”, who knows what the party would do in response?
            You don’t know and neither do I but some ideas are worth more than whether or not Obama is re-elected and I am not going to settle.

          • Operationally, it still amounts to a swap-out, no? Obama, through some combination of argument and…pressure, is induced to withdraw his candidacy for the Presidency, irrespective of how many delegates he has. The interim result being that the Party then has no candidate for President. The vacant space would then be filled by a person of the Party leadership’s choosing.

            That’s pretty much the basic scenario, no?

          • The party will do what it wants to do. Primaries are just a formality.

            Who knows what decision it will make? But one thing is for certain: if you acquiesce to the inevitability haka, it will do nothing and you will most certainly get stuck with Obama.

            This is like that “let’s make a deal” logic puzzle. Do you keep the door you already have or do you trade it for what is behind door #2? The solution to the puzzle is that you should always trade because your chances of winning the big one is greater. There’s a math solution to it somewhere on the web.

            This is your scenario and Obama is the door you have. All you have to do is reject him and see what happens.

            They’re counting on you being a sucker and sticking with the door you already have.

          • Well, you’ve got me there…. “a person of the Party leadership’s choosing” … yes, that would be true.

            But, if we’re in an Anybody but, Obama/Romney then maybe ANYBODY would be better. I think Hillary would have quite a time resigning form SoS in time to even get to the convention but, it would be wildly interesting if she wanted to try.

            Personally, I’m getting closer to the don’t reward the bastards scenario. And a massive LIBERAL/LEFT/PROGRESSIVE 3rd Party protest vote.

            We’ve come to the time where the blockheads will get what they demand. We’ll have to be shown that this isn’t a GAME in any fun, let’s-go-to-the-races sense.

            We’re probably going to have to wait until the next batch of “winners” drowns the Federal Government in a bathtub before someone can come in with a 21st Century Bill of Rights and start building it all up again.

          • Oh, and what Riverdaughter said above about Let’s Make a Deal … that’s true. Also true that at some point buying ONE Lottery Ticket is actually a goodish (as in not the worst way to spend a buck) investment. And I think I’m with her for Door Number 3 — I’m ready to take chance on Party Number 3 (whichever THAT is)

          • We’re probably going to have to wait until the next batch of “winners” drowns the Federal Government in a bathtub before someone can come in with a 21st Century Bill of Rights and start building it all up again.

            Nah. The country will just break up along the lines of the Nine Nations of North America. Neo-secessionism is what the country is drifting towards in terms of political philosophy.

          • This is your scenario and Obama is the door you have. All you have to do is reject him and see what happens.

            They’re counting on you being a sucker and sticking with the door you already have.

            Reject him or stick with him, both paths lead to one outcome: neo-secessionism.

            The U.S. won’t be able to endure being half Democratic and half Republican much longer. Something has to give, and what most likely will “give” is the Union.

          • Well, I guess we now know who’s behind door #2, RD..

            http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/dem-primary-challenger-down-7-obama-arkansas_645010.html

          • No, Wolfe is not behind door number 2. We don’t know what’s behind door number 2 yet. But if Obama is rejected in Arkansas, Monty will start to do a little haggling.
            “how about I give you this $500 that I have in my hand in you stay with door number 1?”
            “ummmm…”
            {{unsolicited advice from the crowd. Take i! Stay on door #1, you ditz!}}
            “nah, I still want to swap for door #2″

            And then comes Texas…

            Btw, did you know New Jersey has a write in option?

    • BTW, I’m not writing for the rest of the web. It’s not my problem if everyone is following everyone else off a cliff. I’ve always maintained that this is a place where it is safe to be unpopular. It’s too bad more people didn’t take us seriously four years ago.
      But being a joiner in order to not look controversial is a waste of time and makes blogs very predictable.
      And I’d never chase you away but you should know by now that I don’t cave to peer pressure.

      • Me? A joiner?

        And do you think I would ever encourage anyone else to give a fig about peer pressure?

        You do know that my favorite saying in the world (well, much of the time) is “When they give you lined paper, write the other way”?

    • So it is written, and so it shall be forever and ever Amen. Thank you Pope Cannon.

  9. My one, major gripe with Yves’s post is her characterization of Obama as the “Great Deceiver” – I think he is, instead, the “Great Deception”. He didn’t pull off the bait-and-switch himself, he lacks the intelligence or skill to do so. Rather, he was a product packaged for consumption – with absolutely no discernible program, plan, political philosophy, or ethical standard to back it up.

    I expected him to be a dreadful President, and he’s been even worse than I expected.

    Having said that, Joseph is unfortunately right about one thing. Our next President will be either Obama or Romney (or, as Lambert puts it, Obamney and Robama). That doesn’t obligate me to vote for either of the SOBs. Just because we’re condemned to four years of crap doesn’t mean I’m required to acquiesce. I haven’t decided which third party is going to get my protest vote – but it damned sure isn’t going to be either the Red Team or the Blue Team of the Corporate Party.

    I will say one thing in Romney’s favor: at least he isn’t pretending to be a Democrat.

    • See my comment above about the inevitability haka. You can go down that road if you want but it’s like giving up before you’ve even tried. If anything, I’d say now is the time to put the brakes on it. Shake it up. The media will love covering dissent in the Democratic party. They like conflict.
      What have you got to lose? No, really.

      • I keep thinking that surely we are due for a shake up. You are right, anything can happen and nothing is inevitable. In fact the chances that something will shake up the Obamney campaign are very good.

  10. Basically what works is if those of us that are truly left of center start saying loudly we are voting Green party, and let others know if they want the Dem party to run left, we have to show we have numbers and power. The Dem party machine would silence these voices within the party- re 2008, but I noticed they started really getting anxious and ugly when got vocal about not voting for Obama. We have to stick to our guns and say no votes for Obama. Scare them into returning to the FDR Democratic party to try to win our votes.

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