Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

The Palinization of Obama

By Jonathan Capehart

Doug Schoen and Pat Caddell have presented President Obama with a provocative proposition: For the good of the nation, they argue, he should announce immediately that he will not seek a second term. I have enormous respect for these men, particularly Schoen, with whom I worked on Mike Bloomberg's first campaign for mayor of New York. But what they suggest would be the Palinization of Obama -- when the governing gets tough, quit.

I know that Schoen and Caddell are not telling Obama to walk away from the Oval Office upon his return from Asia. But their advice "to seize the high ground" would render the president politically impotent and absolve of responsibility others who contribute to the legislative gridlock they decry.

Their notion that Obama would be able to get more done by not being in the 2012 mix is, well, wrong.

This piece of advice is political surrender:

Quite simply, given our political divisions and economic problems, governing and campaigning have become incompatible. Obama can and should dispense with the pollsters, the advisers, the consultants and the strategists who dissect all decisions and judgments in terms of their impact on the president's political prospects.

This piece of advice is fantasy:

Forgoing another term would not render Obama a lame duck. Paradoxically, it would grant him much greater leverage with Republicans and would make it harder for opponents such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) -- who has flatly asserted that his highest priority is to make Obama a one-term president -- to be uncooperative.

And for Democrats such as current Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) -- who has said that entitlement reform is dead on arrival -- the president's new posture would make it much harder to be inflexible. Given the influence of special interests on the Democratic Party, Obama would be much more effective as a figure who could remain above the political fray. Challenges such as boosting economic growth and reducing the deficit are easier to tackle if you're not constantly worrying about the reactions of senior citizens, lobbyists and unions.

Here's the truth about what would happen: The Republicans would simply wait out Obama in hopes that in 2012 a Republican president who wouldn't cut-and-run is elected. And the Democrats, rightly feeling abandoned by the leader of their party, would have no incentive to listen to Obama either. It's possible I'm wrong (and y'all won't be afraid to tell me if I am), but the way I see it, with the lights out at the White House, power in the party would shift to the Capitol: Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), the presumptive minority leader, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) would become de facto chiefs of the Democrats. If you thought the Pelosi commercials were harsh in 2010, could you imagine what they'd be like in Schoen-Caddell's 2012 America?

There are myriad other political factors. Taking Obama out of consideration in 2012 doesn't mean that politics stops. Democratic presidential hopefuls would take political posturing and preening to a whole new level. What Schoen and Caddell think Obama should do in the national interest would be lost to the self-interest of those who seek to succeed him.

Saying they did not come to their conclusion lightly, the authors write:

But it is clear, we believe, that the president has largely lost the consent of the governed. The midterm elections were effectively a referendum on the Obama presidency. And even if it was not an endorsement of a Republican vision for America, the drubbing the Democrats took was certainly a vote of no confidence in Obama and his party. The president has almost no credibility left with Republicans and little with independents.

Not long after the Democrats were similarly spanked by the electorate in 1994, President Bill Clinton declared, "The president is relevant." He proved it by retooling his political operation and roaring to a second-term victory. Obama can and must do the same. To follow Schoen and Caddell's advice would be to render himself irrelevant. I'd rather Obama govern as if he had one term than actually give up halfway through his first of possibly two terms.

By Jonathan Capehart  | November 14, 2010; 1:49 PM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: In the GOP's House, God won't allow global warming?
Next: Cindy McCain retreats on don't ask don't tell. John McCain digs in



Posted by: TheWizard1 | November 14, 2010 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Obama just suffered the worst midterm election defeat of any first term, elected president in history. He set the new bar. A second term looks unlikely at this point. I want him to fail so I hope he will run for a second term.

Maybe, just maybe that arrogant, audacious chin of his will lower a few degrees.

Nah, then he would have to accept the reality that he is not a god.

Posted by: Charley_XF | November 15, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

you're wrong, all right, but it's not about what you claim. Schoen and Caddell, aka the FOX faux Democrats, are not worthy of anyone's respect. One should never take their arguments in good faith - or address them with anything but the subtext.

Posted by: daphne5 | November 15, 2010 1:44 AM | Report abuse

Please put "Palinization" in the dictionary...

Posted by: Chops2 | November 15, 2010 3:33 AM | Report abuse

Once again you rely on Sarah to help you make a point- she has been your dream come true huh?
I don't know if you'll even read this but I'll give it a whirl...there is a chuck between Sarah and Obama, and most of em showed up to vote the other day. Now, it's fun to pretend everyone is crazy right or crazy left but the truth is most pick and choose per issue- whatever is most important in our lives at that particular time (when I was younger I used to believe in one man, one woman marriage, now I dont' care at all)
The issue for most right now is jobs/economy of course, but the underlying theme is "this guy is a common sense idiot with a degree". Sarah is the opposite- great common sense, not alot of higher learning. I don't love her, but one things for sure: she's got balls. And you can rent brains , but not balls. And we all know who runs the Obama house....yikes!

Posted by: dcjayhawk2 | November 15, 2010 5:57 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan Capehart, first of all, those 2 nuts should not have a platform to spew their garbage. When you said fox news that made my decision easy not to give them any credit. And don't use The Quiter's name in the same sentence as our President. If the news media stop giving the wild eyed right wing a platform, the media would have more credit with the American people.

President Obama is not a quiter. Never have been. He is a fighter. And now with a average 47% approval rating for about a year, give or take a point. He will be reelected. Now with approval ratings like that why would he quit? That was a dumb article, and it's dumb that anyone would give it the time of day.

You pundits seem to forget. The people in power always lose seats in the midterms. No surprise. You also forget Democrats still have the Senate, and the Whitehouse. Regardless of what the Republicans pass in the House. The Senate is where Bills go to die. There are over 200 Bills from the Democratic House still waiting in the Senate to pass.
So yes the Republicans may have the House for the next 2 years. But nothing will pass unless Senator Harry Reid bring it to the floor. So how is that power for them? If the Democrats play this right, and I think they will. Within 2 years the next election, the Republicans will be gone.

Don't underestimate President Obama, many have at their own peril.

Posted by: wildadorsey | November 15, 2010 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Wildadorsey. Once Obama's policies take effect and people see the changes to the quality of their lives, he will be unbeatable. What will fail him is his dithering as if he is unsure they will work. He has got to be assertive and throw caution to the wind because his policies were right from the outset.

Posted by: shaik1 | November 15, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Milbank does say that if the President does not go along with the disinformation of his opposition he is "not facing reality."

When has Mr. Milbank ever faced reality?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | November 15, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

"Maybe, just maybe that arrogant, audacious chin of his will lower a few degrees."

You know this just seems wrong to me because I do not see what you see. I see confidence and want the President of the USA to be confident.

You do remember President Bush? He was (and is) confident.

So was President Truman and many others.

What would you like?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | November 15, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

This was a fascinating observation. Calling what is currently happening to President Obama "Palinization" is so curious because I have long felt Obama and Sarah Palin were mirror images of the same person.

Both are charismatic to their followers. Both enjoy a very passionate and ideologically solid political base. Both rely heavily upon popular bumper sticker shibboleths when exercising their soaring rhetoric.

And lastly, both display intellects that are a mile wide and an inch deep when taken off script. Neither is dumb, but both appear very ordinary.

And so it goes...

Posted by: pgould1 | November 15, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

"Palinization"="when the governing gets tough, quit!" HUH??!! Sorry, Mr Capehart, your whole article stinks. Why? Because your opening shot, the title, and its definition you provide, are 100% WRONG!!! Now, here's the correct one. Ever read Sarah's "Going Rogue"? I thought not. Well, if you can read, check out chapter #5, called "The Thumpin'". In it, the author who Katie Couric thinks doesn't read anything, that author wrote exactly why she RESIGNED!! (She in fact said she's NOT a quitter!) First, she was America's #1 most popular Governor before McCain chose her as VP. 80-90% approval ratings that made Rudy Guiliani envious. She'd succeeded in fulfilling ALL her campaign promises, by passing strong ethics laws, AGIA and ACES. (Read "Rogue" for what they are!) She got the largest North American private sector project going, one worth $40 Billion, after winning over Big Oil, CEO to CEO!! (A lesson Mr Obama could learn!!) Then, after strongly energizing McCain's campaign, she returned to governing the state of Alaska, raring to get back to work. (BTW, most knowledgable people say McCain would have lost by a much wider margin if not for Ms Palin!!) Then the frivolous ethics charges began flying her way, most of which were filed by Obama-backed bloggers and other unemployed folks, and EVERY one of which were dismissed or thrown out of court. Last I heard, she was 26-0. If a baseball pitcher, she'd be an instant Hall of Famer!! Besides those, there were many huge FOIA requests, several of which were also propulgated by Obama-backed bloggers. All of this, the lawsuits and FOIA's, took up about 80% of the Governor's and her Administration's cabinet and staff's time and energy, pretty much bringing the business of Alaskan government to a standstill, at NO fault of Governor Palin. Then, the Law Dept of Alaska spent over $2,000,000 defending its Governor, as ststae law so orders. In her private life, she and husband Todd also ran up personal debt of at least $600,000!! So, to prevent further Government gridlock and bankruptcy, she RESIGNED, handing the office over to her Lt. Governor, Sean Parnell. (Who has continued the Palin agenda!!) She did this, NOT knowing what lay ahead!! NO knowledge whatsoever of a 3 million-selling book, of a contract with Fox News, of a lucrative speaker's tour, of a book tour with thousands lined up in sub-zero temps to see her, and so on. So this "Palinization you speak of is farcical and FALSE!!! Again, check out "The Thumpin'" chapter of Going Rogue for its REAL definition!!

Posted by: palinin2012 | November 15, 2010 9:30 AM | Report abuse

The only accurate statement by Schoen and Caddell in their otherwise infantile piece is that "governing and campaigning have become incompatible." President Obama is not more or less responsible for this development than any other politician or lobbyist, nor is he any more or less accountable to remedy it on his own. It is doubtful that Mr. Obama could effect change on this issue while in office, but he has many other issues on which to lead, and perhaps he will choose to make reform on this incompatibility of governing and campaigning a post presidential goal after his second term, should he earn it.

Posted by: CulturedAnarchy | November 15, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

The correct model is Nixon/Carter, not Palin.

Posted by: MikeMcLamara | November 15, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Schoen and Caddell, in effect, have asked Obama to resign, allowing Biden to become president. They would leave Obama as a hypocrite and pushover who campaigned with big promises and chickened out when the going was rough. Shame on them!

Posted by: mikehaas | November 15, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

This column is one of the craziest I have ever read. This President has just accomplished one of the most ambitious legislative sessions in history. The Tea Party will fade away as such movements do as the economy returns. As they continue the disgusting excesses people will turn on them. I have more faith in Americans dispite all evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: withersb | November 15, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a fan of the President's and I didn't vote for him in 2008 nor do I expect to in 2012 but this has to be the dumbest idea proposed. Capehart is right in saying that this would achieve nothing that the writers think it will -- just look at most presidents' 2nd terms when there is a 'shift' in political thought. Little gets done because everyone's waiting for the big change in 1/3 of the government.

Now, humourously, i do find it funny that Capehart using the waiting scenario for this but joins the liberal wing in ignoring that this is what both the Taliban and other terror groups will do when you give hard deadlines for withdrawl. Just use the same logic for Afghanistan and other sites and understand why these liberal pushes fail the regions.

Posted by: MadiganT | November 15, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"with the lights out at the White House, power in the party would shift to the Capitol"

If only we could be so lucky for political objectives to formalize in the legislative branch! Imagine such a concept! Quick let's throw in some language about natural law and human rights and make this the supreme law of the land.

Oh wait, you tell me that's been done before? Darn it. I thought we really onto something.

Back to the 21st century and continuing in the proud tradition of 20th century central government.

Posted by: cprferry | November 15, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

The most heartbreaking aspect of the Schoen and Cadell proposal, is that the once respectable Washington Post thought it was worthy of publication.

Posted by: CardFan | November 15, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the writer, OBama must continue to govern as Clinton did. And, he must run for a second term. To do otherwise would be to blow another hole in the sinking ship that holds what's left of the Middle class America. We can't and we won't cow-tow to the tyrany McConnell and the other corporate kissing Reps are impelling us towards. We need to band together and support our party like the GOP and Tea Party has done. While they war for supremacy amongst themselves, we can strenghten and whoop their collective butts come 2012.

Posted by: MCunningham122 | November 15, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Fat Pat Caddell helped Jimmy Carter become president. For that alone he deserves to rot in hell.

Carter gave us Reagan, who gave us Bush 41 and Lee Atwater, who gave us Bush 43 and Karl Rove.

Posted by: Observer691 | November 15, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Mr Caopehart,

i agree that BOHO should immediately announce that he will NOT seek a second term, though not for the reasons that the two men said.

i'm no particuliar fan of BHO, as i regard him as a weakling, arrogant, ignorant, SELF-impressed with his "limited abilities", UNable to successfully lead two drunken sailors into a "house of ill repute" & NO "mental giant" BUT i do think that he's smart enough to see "the handwriting on the wall" and it says, "HILLERY 2012".

in point of fact, whoever the DIMocRATS choose to run in 2012 will be HUMILIATED by the TEA PARTY/GOP candidate, as everyone in the USA (barring the "true believers" of the most extreme leftist lunatic fringe of the DIMocRATS party) will happily vote AGAINST the DIMocRATS from the local courthouse to the WH.

just my opinion.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 15, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Obama is far from confidant. He IS arrogant. He exudes arrogance! People hate arrogance.

Posted by: annnort | November 15, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Let the American people decide if they want Obama to have a second term or not. If he does some good things for the country in the next couple of years, they may decide to give him another chance. In any case, Obama's going to run again no matter what the "smart boys" say.

Posted by: karmour1 | November 15, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

They remind me of your old senile uncle who say some weird/stupid/strange things but people really don't take them seriously anymore.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 15, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: texasnative46
just my opinion.
yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

PS. themofo is black.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: knjincvc | November 15, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

you pick and choose your reality,
cape, the frivolous lawsuits of the liberal army aimed at alaska, is like saying, once the republicans start inquiries into the whitehouse, that obama will be too busy with testimony and cordinating lies that they will not be able to push their agenda.
or you can stick with the,
'we just ain't don' a good nuff job
telling the american folks what is best
fer thems'


Posted by: simonsays1 | November 15, 2010 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"Obama is far from confidant. He IS arrogant. He exudes arrogance! People hate arrogance."

Oh come on annort, say what you mean. The word is "uppity". I am sure you use at home all the time when talking about the President, usually followed by a noun beginning with an "N".

Posted by: craigjjs | November 15, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I didn't really like GW Bush, but I did not want him to fail because I live in this country, and when the leaders fail, it's bad for the country, not just the party the leaders belong to. Is this so hard to fathom? What is wrong with you people?
It's fine to want somebody else to win next time around but wanting the country to fall to pieces just so your team is in charge again is massively petty.

Posted by: nmoses | November 15, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

kinjincvc; craigjjs,

in my long experience, empty-headed/prejudiced NITWITS (on the leftist/lunatic fringe of the DIMocRATS party) invaribly show themselves to be "lacking facts" in their ignorant blather & filled with HATE.
(at least in "kinjincvc's" case, he/she LOOKS really STUPID, as i'm NOT "a white person".)

face it, NOBODY believes nitwits, who play "the race card" any more, as it's like the story of "the little boy who cried wolf".

laughing AT you two clowns.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 15, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

This op-Ed article written yesterday was an absolute piece of garbage. This is what right wing conservatives want you to believe so that they can win in 2012. It is completely wrong to say that The republicans will work Obama if he doesn't run for reelection. I thought the republicans don't believe in deadlines (aphganistan) but they sure are going to try to wait these 2 years out. Taliban!

Posted by: 473wea | November 15, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Capehart's conclusions, and was dumbfounded by the WP writers' naïveté.

The electorate we're talking about is simply frustrated and fearful in a world of growing uncertainty. The fact that flack (from both sides) surrounds historic reforms *achieved* under Obama is to be expected. I want leaders to lead, not be slaves to surveys. Obama for 2012!

Posted by: ForReason | November 15, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Obama needs to be freed from the left; otherwise, the democratic party will be a lot smaller!

Posted by: tomkat2 | November 15, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

ForReason; all,

"ForReason": tell us all, please - WHAT exactly has obama done that you admire
that you think that the average voter of eityher party admires and/or even thinks is INTELLIGENT policy.

the TRUTH (the TRUTH is NOT subject to your wishful thinking, arrogant ignorance of the facts, prejudice and/or UNfounded opinions.) is simply the TRUTH. = inasmuch as 70+% of voters do NOT want "obamacare" and/or any of the rest of "his agenda", it seems obvious that obama is either:
1. not going to run again for POTUS
2. that HRC will beat him soundly in the DIMocRATS primary
3. should he survive the DIMocRAT primary, that he will be HUMILIATED by whomever the TEA PARTY/GOP candidate is in 2012.

just my opinion. = i do NOT & CANNOT speak officially for our county's TEA PARTY group, absent a vote on each issue.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | November 16, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company