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Left frustrated with Obama, White House staff

By Ben Pershing
In the weeks since the Massachusetts election gave the White House a wake-up call, President Obama has made a series of gestures toward the middle even as liberals have grown increasingly frustrated.

Bloomberg writes that "Obama's politics may be drawing inspiration from an unlikely source: Ronald Reagan. The late Republican president may become Democrat Obama's most relevant role model as the U.S. economic and political climate mirrors Reagan's first term, which began in 1981." The Wall Street Journal reports "Obama's willingness to keep Bush-era policies on government-backed religious charities opposed by many liberals is helping to woo traditionally Republican evangelical leaders who can influence key blocs of voters. The approach, according to conservative leaders and liberal critics alike, is part of a broader strategy by Mr. Obama and fellow Democrats to regain credibility with centrist and conservative voters who tend to be more religious and have supported the GOP in recent polls and elections." But Politico has Obama "running into resistance from congressional Democrats over several key economic proposals -- blunting the party's ability to send a clear message to middle-class voters that Democrats feel their pain. Obama has run into friction from fellow Democrats over plans to freeze some federal spending, to use bailout funds for small-business lending and to limit the reach of big banks."

Rahm Emanuel has long cultivated good relationships with reporters and, coincidentally or not, has rarely received bad press despite some potential flaws. But in the wake of his "retarded" controversy -- first reported in a tough Wall Street Journal story -- perhaps the media's gloves will come off. The Los Angeles Times takes a crack Friday: "A senior presidential aide is supposed to solve problems, not create or compound them for his boss. So the White House was knocked off-stride when Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel was forced to issue a public apology for using a derogatory word for people with learning disabilities. But even before the gaffe, Emanuel was becoming a magnet for criticism of President Obama's difficulties in turning his ambitious agenda into achievements. ... [F]or all of the relationships Emanuel built in helping Democrats recapture the House in 2006, he has not succeeded in greasing the way for Obama's programs. The healthcare overhaul is in limbo. And the president's political fortunes seem to have dwindled, with his approval rating falling and Democrats suffering embarrassing setbacks in a trio of elections over the last year."

Might David Axelrod be the next target of frustrated liberals? Politico writes: "Sen. Al Franken ripped into White House senior adviser David Axelrod this week during a tense, closed-door session with Senate Democrats. Five sources who were in the room tell POLITICO that Franken criticized Axelrod for the administration's failure to provide clarity or direction on health care and the other big bills it wants Congress to enact." Huffington Post has Sherrod Brown "call[ing] out the White House publicly for abandoning the leadership role that is needed to get legislation passed." Jonathan Cohn worries that "giving Congress so much leeway now could invite a replay of the summer spectacle--when negotiators in the Senate Finance committee dithered and dithered, slowly but surely eroding reform's support. Obama eventually ended those negotiations, saving reform in the process, by threatening to introduce his own bill."

With Scott Brown sworn in, "Obama and Congressional Democratic leaders sought to reset their agenda as they lost their 60th vote in the Senate on Thursday," the New York Times writes. The economy has become Job One on the Hill, where the Senate is working on a jobs bill and the House enacted new spending rules. "Eager to portray themselves as responsible stewards of the economy, congressional Democrats on Thursday pledged to enact a package of measures to spur job growth while taking steps to tackle the burgeoning federal budget deficit," the Los Angeles Times reports. Will the GOP play ball on the jobs bill? "Democratic and Republican senators struggled to hammer out a modest bipartisan job-creation package Thursday, reflecting how a turbulent political atmosphere is snarling even legislation with popular support," the Wall Street Journal writes. Steven Pearlstein thinks "the most common misconception is that bipartisanship means finding common ground and focusing on the things most everyone agrees on. In reality, that turns out to be a pretty small set of ideas and proposals that, taken together, would not address the major challenges before us."

With some bills, Republicans are perfectly happy to leave Democrats to their own devices. "House Democrats passed a record $1.9 trillion increase in the federal debt limit without any help from Republicans on a 217-212 vote Thursday afternoon," Roll Call reports. David Rogers writes, "Final passage took two highly partisan House votes, but the end product was something of a coup for the embattled leadership cheered on by a flash from their past: former President Bill Clinton. ... Obama himself welcomed pay-go as a return to what he called "a simple but bedrock principle: Congress can only spend a dollar if it saves a dollar elsewhere. But the day belonged more to Clinton, who returned like an old coach bucking up his team and suggesting a few new plays of his own."

Paul Krugman complains about "fear-mongering on the deficit" and adds, "To me -- and I'm not alone in this -- the sudden outbreak of deficit hysteria brings back memories of the groupthink that took hold during the run-up to the Iraq war." But The Economist frets that "Obama's budget reveals a road-map to fiscal catastrophe. At no point over the coming decade will the deficit be below 3.6% of GDP; and after 2018, it starts rising again. ... It is a deeply depressing picture--and Mr Obama did nothing this week to lighten it." Speaking of debt, stocks fell Thursday and the Associated Press says "world stocks tumbled again Friday as investors worried that the debt crisis enveloping Greece may spread to other vulnerable countries in Europe such as Portugal, and amid fears that jobs data later will show that the U.S. recovery is weaker than expected."

In Nashville, the Tea Party Convention is underway amid an intense media focus on the divisions within the movement. USA Today asks, "Will the real Tea Party please stand up? Most political conventions are designed to showcase party unity, but the National Tea Party convention where Sarah Palin is to speak Saturday is sending a very different message. The squabbles that erupted over this weekend's Nashville gathering reflect larger challenges facing a hot political phenomenon." Charlie Hurt writes "the infant organization called Tea Party Nation has been riven by infighting, dogged by accusations of impropriety and can, at best, point to just one successful candidate. All of this has been catnip for the battalion of liberal reporters eagerly covering every disjointed mishap of this free-wheeling and unorganizable band of rebels. But it would be wrong to think tea partiers have not had any successes.

ABC News watched Tom Tancredo's speech Wednesday: "The opening-night speaker at first ever National Tea Party Convention ripped into President Obama, Sen. John McCain and 'the cult of multiculturalism,' asserting that Obama was elected because 'we do not have a civics, literacy test before people can vote in this country.'" The Fix says "this weekend should tell us something about whether the tea partiers are a passing political fad or have staying power within the political arena. ... Passion in politics is in short supply and it's clear from their town halls protests last summer that the members of the tea party movement are mad as hell. But, is there something beyond that anger that they can rally around heading into the 2010 midterms and, eventually, the 2012 presidential race?"

By Ben Pershing  |  February 5, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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Comments

We're just repeating the 90's all over again. The cast of players is different, but the performance is the same. I doubt that we'll have many big changes unfortunately, but maybe there will be some shifts into the correct direction. Things started out shaky for Clinton dealing with the recession, and the Democrats lost Congress shortly after, but for the most part the GOP ran out of steam a couple of years later and got desperate enough to force that impeachment farce down our throats (no pun intended). Now THAT was an embarrassing moment for our country, and not for the reasons the GOP wanted it to be. It backfired in their faces beautifully, and for a brief but wonderful moment the general public finally saw the leaders of the GOP for what they really are: a desperate, immoral, and hypocritical group of paid corporate lackeys who will say and do anything to win and who are completely unconcerned with anything that doesn't fatten their own bank accounts. Hopefully at least by the middle of the decade we'll have the prosperity and optimism that we had by the late 90's, and maybe we'll figure out how to hold onto it this time. Of course that depends on whether or not we repeat the mistakes of the 2000 election.

Posted by: icemachine79 | February 11, 2010 9:01 PM | Report abuse

NYClefty,
I beg to differ, everything about him as the candidate was a lefty, the handlers tried to keep his mouth shut. Hil believed he would be useful as a second, she guessed wrong. The network he reports to is bigger than than the Clinton machine.

Posted by: RayOne | February 7, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I immediately blogged that O should kick Axelrod to the curb for a few quarters (I'll bet others .. such as Rahm) agreed with me. This one is on the POTUS.. he should remember.. there are peeps that get you elected and peeps that run the show while in office.. never confuse the two.. keep the pen and pencil tucked separately in the pocket protector.. basic stuff..

Posted by: newbeeboy | February 5, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

"There are lies, there are damned lies, and then there are statistics." Mark Twain.
When the bigger the lie is the more believable it is, why stop short of using statistics?

Posted by: BeauBowling | February 5, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

You get what you paid for-
There was no indication that Barack was going to be the great progressive. His speeches were broad and beautiful but his policy proposals were unambitious. His history in the senate and the state senate showed no ambitious progressive policies. What were people expecting? Next time (2016) those on the left can do less cult of personality and more reading policy.

Posted by: NYClefty | February 5, 2010 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Before the Messianoc Progressive makes any more Patronizing speeches to us poor uneducated and stupid folks, he needs to spend some of our cash to send a supply of DECODER rings so that we may be able to understand exactly What the HELL he's talking about... so many disconnects have us CONFUSED....Too many Pivots and rather unbelievable promises are making us Dizzy waiting to clean up the Barn on 4 Nov, 2010.

Posted by: redhawk2 | February 5, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Frustrated? Try TORTURED. Really. (See below):


***

URGENT TO THE GOOD PEOPLE ON THE INSIDE OF THE FBI (and I know you follow this blog)

cc: Obama White House security advisers; Washington press corps

The "distraction du jour" -- the big snowstorm -- is coming. So the microwave torturers at the MAGLOCLEN Mid-Atlantic fusion center in Newtown, Bucks County, PA are "upping the amplitude" in response to widely published articles exposing the misuse of the U.S. government's secret, nationwide cell tower- based microwave/laser directed energy weapon system...

...to attack, injure, impair and entrain unconstitutionally and unjustly "targeted" citizens -- many targeted for their politics and their activism.

YOU MUST ACT. NOW. IF YOU DO NOT, YOU ARE COMPLICIT AND NEGLIGENT BY YOUR INACTION.

And that goes for Team Obama, too.

WHY ARE YOU COVERING UP ATROCITIES AGAINST AMERICAN CITIZENS THAT WERE SPAWNED OR VASTLY EXPANDED UNDER BUSH-CHENEY?

And Washington press corps -- including WaPo:

WHY HAVE YOU NOT QUIZZED THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ABOUT THIS?

PEOPLE ARE BEING HARMED AS A RESULT OF YOUR INACTION.

For details, see latest comments:

http://nowpublic.com/world/u-s-silently-tortures-americans-cell-tower-microwaves
http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america
OR: NowPublic.com/scrivener (see "stories" list) OR poynter.org/subject.asp?id=2 (see "articles" list)

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 5, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Left is frustrated, Right is outraged, Middle is disgusted...vote the bum out.

Posted by: JCM-51 | February 5, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dfaesterytrueyhyuety | February 5, 2010 9:45 AM | Report abuse

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Posted by: dfaesterytrueyhyuety | February 5, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

This Tea party movement should not be used for getting revenge but to develope a coherent policy and we should be getting together and get a plethora of ideas and direct towards different philosphies for the betterment of masses and policies. We should not have leaders selected but the froth of this group discussion throw ideas in the mix.

Posted by: dadbarman | February 5, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Nothing better for the White House right now than liberal anger. The angrier the left gets, the better job Obama is doing wooing independents.

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 5, 2010 8:16 AM | Report abuse

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