Independent’s Eye by Joe Gandelman
As election day shapes up as a probable day of infamy for the Democratic Party and Barack Obama one thing is clear: historians will point to Obama as the quintessential example of someone who ran a good Presidential election campaign, made great speeches, organized and mobilized voters and convinced his party to put its fate in his hands ““ and who didn’t live up to advance billing once in office.
In a sign of how far he has fallen, the debate is on over whether Obama will wind up being seen as another Jimmy Carter (who could campaign but was a seemed over his head in office) or another Bill Clinton (who took a political beating in his first mid-term, found the media asking about whether the President was “relevant” and turned to triangulate and pick smaller issues to get victories). The way it’s going, any day now expect Obama to be attacked by a killer rabbit”¦
The extent of Barack Obama’s political depreciation is seen in a new Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll that found that one-quarter of those who voted for him before are now defecting to the GOP or considering voting against the Democrats. Only half say they definitely will show up Nov. 2 to vote. Meanwhile, independent voters have been fleeing Obama and the Democrats in droves. And despite Obama’s campaigning, the GOP still is 5 points ahead in Gallup’s generic ballot.
The temptation is to say “It’s the economy stupid,” or, “It was those groups spending money for the GOP.” Or: he didn’t have a chance against the Republicans’ potent info machine of talk radio and Fox News (whose boss News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch proudly defended giving more millions to Republicans to “change” Washington). But the answer is far more complex.
Look at what we’ve learned so far about Barack Obama:
Forget the talk about him transforming the American presidency by dominating Internet communications: It was believed at the beginning of his Presidency he’d turn the Internet into the 21st century Presidency’s new bully pulpit to convince, consolidate and mobilize voters. Except for a brief early attempt, it hasn’t happened.
He would be another great communicator a la JFK or Reagan: Although he delivered some spellbinding speeches during the campaign and some good speeches in office, the biggest shock has been his blandness. Some of his comments and speeches are as exciting as cold tofu. Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell told the New York Times he gives Obama “a D-plus or C-minus on communication”¦They lost the communications battle”¦”
Chicago style politics: You mean “patty cake” is Chicago style politics? Neither political friend nor foe fears the White House. Obama often seems more Adlai Stevenson than the first Mayor Daley. More a Nemo than a shark.
He’s no FDR or Ronald Reagan when it comes to political judgment: FDR through political smarts, tight party control, and optimism dominated the political scene and his party took his lead and benefited. Reagan did, too. The Democrats took up Obama’s demand to pass health care amid assurances that the public would appreciate it but so far the issue has been a handicap due to his ineffective selling job.
Meanwhile, attacking the Chamber of Commerce for possibly using foreign donations to help Republicans had questionable political impact and perhaps boomeranged. Former Rep. Martin Frost (D-Texas) told a reporter: “I think attacking the outside money, and specifically attacking the Chamber, is of very limited value to the White House.”
But it did cause conservative talk show superstar Glenn Beck to announce that he was giving $10,000 to the Chamber and to urge his listeners to do the same — thus giving the Chamber its biggest single day funding, ever.
Now, that’s definitely change Republicans can believe in.
Copyright 2010 Joe Gandelman
Joe Gandelman is a veteran journalist who wrote for newspapers overseas and in the United States. He has appeared on cable news show political panels and is Editor-in-Chief of The Moderate Voice, an Internet hub for independents, centrists and moderates. CNN’s John Avlon named him as one of the top 25 Centrists Columnists and Commentators. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org and can be booked to speak at your event at www.mavenproductions.com.
Follow Joe Gandelman on Twitter @joegandelman