Obama must ‘sell it’ to cut Dems’ midterm losses

Updated
Let me finish tonight with the dire political future facing the Democrats two months from now. Here it is straight from the shoulder. No bedside manner. Strictly Hardball. It looks like the Republicans are going to win control of the U.S. government next January. If they win the House of Representatives, that’s enough. They’ll control tax policy, spending policy, overall fiscal policy, trade policy, and they’ll control the power of subpoena. They can push tax cuts up to the hilt, and launch endless investigations of the administration. Mr. Obama will still be president. The opposition will be controlling the headlines and what gets done. Except for foreign policy, where he’ll keep control of things like the Middle East and the Afghanistan war, this transformative presidency will be pretty much stymied. As I said, I’m giving you strictly Hardball. This is the way it looks, even if the Republicans don’t win the Senate - which some smart people like the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato think they could. Right now the biggest danger the president’s party faces is low or even bad morale. People who voted for him are disappointed by the bad economy, disillusioned with this surprisingly distant guy in the White House they felt closer to two years ago - when they cheered and voted for him - than they do now. He’s got two months to do something about it, to salvage a rough result from what clearly threatens to be a catastrophe, to save the senate seats of progressives Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray and Russ Feingold, to give candidates like Joe Sestak and Jack Conway and Alexi Giannoulias in his home state of Illinois a better chance, and maybe help bring in Harry Reid as well. Every one of these candidates could lose - bringing about a total Democratic calamity the night of November 2. On the other hand, every one of these senate candidates has a solid chance of winning. The key is for the President to campaign - to be the person he was from 2004 through 2008 - the inspiring, hardworking, focused Democratic hero that he was. He needs to sell his connection, as he did through all that time, with the prospect of change. He’s been working on change - creating jobs, doing health care, cleaning up Wall Street, working for a peaceful US role abroad. He’s got to “sell” it, sell the fact that he, Barack Obama, not only gives a damn but has put together a damn tough effort to eventually turn our problems around. He’s got to make the case that losing this November begins the job of killing everything he’s begun. He needs to use the presidency - starting Labor Day - to cut his losses - and to set the terms for the next two years of political combat. The Republicans, it’s clear already, will use the coming two years to win back the White House. Their opposition, if it continues on course, will be mainly destructive. That means the President needs to challenge the voters - his voters - with some lethal questions: Do you want wars on demand, which will be the case if the hawks get back in, an untamed, gluttonous Wall Street, which will be the case if the happy de-regulators get back in, a rising gap between the top and the middle, which will certainly be the case if the Republicans get their tax policies securely in place. And he better start now making that sound as terrible as it is. He better start cheerleading. He better start warning. He better start reminding. Because the other side is counting on the opposite: the Democrats despairing, the right-wing voting, and the independent voter forgetting.

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Barack Obama

Obama must 'sell it' to cut Dems' midterm losses

Updated