Monday, September 20, 2010

(Small-bore) Credit where (small-bore) credit's due

It's smart for Pres. Obama to have bearded these lions in their den, in public. It doesn't fix the policy, but it does (slightly) help the politics. The consequences of weak leadership and bad policy decisions are still with us... but he is made to seem slightly less of a cypher.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's the Leader (Stupid)

With regard to the decision voters have to make in November, the latest NY Times/CBS News poll says it all. Yes, the public is dismayed with both parties. Yes, the Great Recession makes everybody justifiably unhappy. Yes, Congress and government in general are seen as deeply broken.

But in a couple of months, people will make choices. One of those choices, for many, will be to stay away from the polls. But those who vote will choose between the two major parties (with a smattering of third-party outliers showing up in the winner's circle). And what this poll (and many others like it) reveals is that (a) people want what the old Democratic Party (not the pale imitation we now have) used to do and advocate, and (b) the biggest electoral problem the Dems face is having a weak leader at the top.

To wit (emphasis added):

"A case for Republicans: Voters are remarkably open to change, even if they are not sure where Republicans will lead them. Most Americans, including one-third of those who were part of the coalition that elected Mr. Obama, now say he does not have a clear plan to solve the nation’s problems or create jobs. Democrats remain highly vulnerable on the economy.

"A case for Democrats: The party is seen as having better ideas for solving the country’s problems. The public steadfastly supports the president’s proposal to let tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans. And far more people still blame Wall Street and the Bush administration than blame Mr. Obama for the country’s economic problems.

"The public has a darker view of Congressional Republicans than of Democrats, with 58 percent disapproving of Democrats and 68 percent disapproving of Republicans. But with less than two months remaining until Election Day, there are few signs Democrats have made gains persuading Americans that they should keep control of Congress."

In other words, strictly in terms of political and electoral outcomes, Democratic chances are poor most importantly because of Obama. People wanted FDR, and they got Calvin Coolidge.