The Morning Jolt

President Obama Diagnoses Donald Trump’s Fans

If you’re a normal human being who enjoyed life outside of politics this weekend, you missed Hillary Clinton contending that Donald Trump is ISIS’s best recruiter; Hillary insisting that rising health-insurance premiums are just “glitches”; Bernie Sanders demanding that doctors and pharmaceutical companies “get their act together!”; Donald Trump insisting he wasn’t praising the very nice strong leader Vladimir Putin; Trump doubting that Putin really has journalists killed.

President Obama in an interview with NPR, released this morning:

. . . the truth of the matter is that where Democrats have had problems is we had the misfortune of doing poorly in 2010 when there was redistricting, and in many of the successive elections Democrats have actually voted at higher rates.

“The misfortune of doing poorly in 2010 . . .” as if the party tripped over a shoelace, or the weather was bad. He cites 2012 to argue that it was mostly redistricting that is holding back the Democrats, an assertion that has been refuted. (If you use the previous lines, the GOP still holds the House that year.) Democrats during Obama’s presidency lost eleven governorships, 13 U.S. Senate seats, 69 House seats, and 913 state legislative seats and 30 state legislative chambers. He’s still incapable of acknowledging that he’s taken steps that have made his party less popular in many states and sections of the country.

This section of the interview is generating the most buzz . . .

I do think that when you combine that demographic change with all the economic stresses that people have been going through because of the financial crisis, because of technology, because of globalization, the fact that wages and incomes have been flat-lining for some time, and that particularly blue-collar men have had a lot of trouble in this new economy, where they are no longer getting the same bargain that they got when they were going to a factory and able to support their families on a single paycheck, you combine those things and it means that there is going to be potential anger, frustration, fear. Some of it justified but just misdirected. I think somebody like Mr. Trump is taking advantage of that. That’s what he’s exploiting during the course of his campaign.

Obama’s largely correct, but what’s fascinating is that Obama seems to see this as more random “misfortune” — i.e, he doesn’t seem to see anything he could or should have done about it, or do about it now.

Mr. President, you’ve been in the Oval Office for seven years now! Doesn’t it bother you that after all this time on your watch, Americans are so full of anger, frustration, and fear? Doesn’t the fact that people are so receptive to Trump suggest that after all this time, your policies haven’t alleviated their problems and may in fact have exacerbated them?

When Obama feels like it, he’ll brag about the economy — “This is progress! Step by step, America is moving forward! Middle class economics works!” — and then a little while later, he’ll offhandedly admit wages have “flat-lined.”(Remember, Hillary said she would give Obama an ‘A’ on the economy.)

The progressive Left used to claim it was acting on behalf of working people, those blue-collar men. Now it is primarily a cultural party that evaluates those working-class men by the color of their skin or whether they’re members of a union. Under Obama, the Democratic party has become focused on the far-off threat of climate change, much more openly enthusiastic about an Australian-style national mandatory gun confiscation . . . it’s attuned to the concerns of activists angry at the police, college students angry that they have to pay back loans, angry at anybody who drives an SUV (except their own lawmakers) and anybody who has a private jet, except self-proclaimed environmentalist celebrities . . .

Kentucky Voters Aren’t So Enthused About Medicaid Expansion After All

A key battle about the future of Obamacare is playing out in Kentucky right now. Newly elected governor Matt Bevin ran on repealing the state’s expansion of Medicaid enacted under his predecessor, Democrat Steve Beshear; most of the national political class is scoffing that Bevin couldn’t possibly have meant what he said.

A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted in early December found that, given a choice between “keep Medicaid as it is” or “scale it back so that fewer people would be covered,” respondents generally preferred the status quo.

The New York Times touted the poll and described a conservative lawmaker running into a brick wall of reality: “Bevin, a Republican who took office Tuesday, is an opponent of the Affordable Care Act who earlier this year called for reversing the Medicaid expansion on the grounds that it was unaffordable for the state. He has since backpedaled to say he will seek changes requiring Medicaid enrollees to have ‘skin in the game,’ such as by charging them monthly premiums.”

FGA Action, a free-market nonpartisan advocacy group, just conducted its own poll in Kentucky to see how Kentuckians would feel if newly elected Bevin backed off of his pledge. Unsurprisingly, if you add some details, such as mentioning that the expansion of Medicaid was part of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, and how many people are covered, the numbers shift. And if you survey them again after offering some of the arguments against the expansion, the numbers move further — a nine-point shift overall, a five-point shift among Republicans, a 14-point shift among Democrats, an eight-point shift among independents.

The survey also found widespread support for some welfare-reform provisions: work requirements for able-bodied working age adults with no children at home; more eligibility checks for welfare applicants, and checking their assets as well.

Results for this poll are based on automated telephone interviews conducted among 503 likely voters, conducted November 30 — December 4, 2015. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4.37 percentage points.

Washington Post: Say, This Iran Deal Keeps Looking Worse and Worse

The Washington Post editorial board, back on July 14:

Whether the administration could have held out for a better bargain is certainly debatable; Mr. Obama settled for terms far short of those he originally aimed for. But with the deal now done, its rejection by Congress would likely create the unfavorable scenario the president describes. Whether he is right in claiming that his successor in 10 or 15 years “will be in a far stronger position” with Iran will depend on whether his hopeful theory about its political future proves correct.

The Washington Post editorial board, Sunday:

Iran is following through on the nuclear deal it struck with a U.S.-led coalition in an utterly predictable way: It is racing to fulfill those parts of the accord that will allow it to collect $100 billion in frozen funds and end sanctions on its oil exports and banking system, while expanding its belligerent and illegal activities in other areas — and daring the West to respond.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s response to these provocations has also been familiar. It is doing its best to downplay them — and thereby encouraging Tehran to press for still-greater advantage.

By flouting the U.N. resolutions, Iran is clearly testing the will of the United States and its allies to enforce the overall regime limiting its nuclear ambitions. If there is no serious response, it will press the boundaries in other areas — such as the inspection regime. It will take maximum advantage of Mr. Obama’s fear of undoing a legacy achievement, unless and until its bluff is called. That’s why the administration would be wise to take firm action now in response to the missile tests rather than trying to sweep them under the carpet.

ADDENDA: Tick . . . tock . . . tick . . . tock . . .

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