Democrats are still reeling from President Obama’s statement last week that “I’m not on the ballot this fall . . . but make no mistake, these policies are on the ballot — every single one of them.” Republican attack ads are already making hay with that invitation to send Obama a message in next month’s election.
A growing number of Democrats are already speaking as if the Obama administration is a spent force, with no agenda it can reasonably implement in its last two years. “It is safe to say that Obama has been a huge disappointment,” admitted Democratic columnist Kirsten Powers on the Hugh Hewitt radio show last week. “I really don’t think there’s any comparison between him and Bill Clinton. I don’t think we’re even talking about the same universe.”
Then there’s Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former aide to Al Gore when he created the National Performance Review of government agencies during the Clinton years. On Saturday, she explained to the Los Angeles Times her own theory for Obama’s failures:
This administration has been disconnected from the government it’s supposed to be running. . . .
They keep getting surprised by stuff. And the surprise is almost worse than anything else. It conveys the sense that the White House doesn’t know what its own government is doing. You can’t prevent all these problems from happening, but you can certainly get ahead of the curve on some of them. . . .
Today, presidents travel nonstop and talk nonstop. That wasn’t always true. This addiction to PR has been terrible for the presidency. Every hour he’s on the campaign trail is an hour he could be talking with members of Congress. My advice to any president would be: Stop talking, start working. . . . .
When a president suffers an implementation meltdown, those are far worse than legislative losses. Legislative losses, there’s always another party to blame. Implementation problems, voters are going to blame the president — because they think part of his job is running the government. And Americans expect competence.
And that’s one thing a growing number of Americans are convinced they’re not getting from this administration — which is why his party is so nervous about next month’s elections.