Would Obama’s Re-Election End Polarization And Gridlock In Washington?

The President and his supporters say that Congressional Republicans will temper their rhetoric in a second Obama term. Don't count on it.

Last week, after the Republican National Convention had wrapped up, President Obama told Time’s Michael Scherer that he believes that, regardless of what happens with control of the House and the Senate, his re-election would cause Republicans to come to the table and bring an end to the cycle of gridlock and polarization that has exemplified most of his first four years in office: 

[E]ven in a pretty sour political circumstance, we’ve been able to get some things accomplished. And I believe that in a second term, where Mitch McConnell’s imperative of making me a one-term President is no longer relevant, they recognize that what the American people are looking for is for us to get things done.

And I will continue to insist to my Democratic colleagues that not all good ideas just come from Democrats and that if we’re going to reduce our deficit in a serious way, we are going to have to cut some spending even on some programs that I like. If we’re going to be serious about energy independence, then we can’t just have a knee-jerk opposition to the incredible resources that we have in our country. We’ve got to have an all-of-the-above strategy that develops oil and gas and clean coal along with wind and solar.

So my expectation is that there will be some popping of the blister after this election, because it will have been such a stark choice. Where Republicans refuse to cooperate on things that I know are good for the American people, I will continue to look for ways to do it administratively and work around Congress. And a good example of that is, for example, making sure that homeowners around the country can take advantage of these historically low rates and refinance.

Rahm Emanuel expressed similar confidence that an Obama victory would change the tone of things in Washington:

 ”In 1995 the Republicans shut down the government,” he said, recalling the budget standoff that helped ensure Clinton’s reelection. “Newt Gingrich said let Medicare wither on the vine. Medicare is coming back” as an issue with the Romney-Ryan ticket, he said.

The year after Clinton won a second term, Emanuel boasted, he and the GOP balanced the budget, reached agreement on health care coverage for children, and cut other deals.

So what’s that got to do with what Obama might do in a second term, given the prevailing gridlock in Washington.

“Elections…have consequences,” the mayor said. “If the president wins reelection, I think the Republicans will finally, after four years of trying to beat him, will try to work with him. The American people will have delivered their verdict

The events after the 1996 election are the obvious analogy that Democrats are looking for here, and it’s understandable why. Notwithstanding the impeachment mess, the years after Bill Clinton defeated Bob Dole to earn another term in office are generally seen as successful economically and politically. Indeed, as Emanuel mentioned, the two centers of power in Washington were able to cut deals on several key issues even after the Monica Lewinsky story broke. After impeachment, of course, things became more difficult and Clinton began looking for foreign policy as a means of establishing a legacy, but for the most part a Democratic President  and Republican Congress were able to work together on at least the day-to-day operations of the government such as a the budget. That’s likely an idea that appeals to most voters given the fact that poll after poll has shown that Americans are fed up with the polarization and partisanship in Washington and tend to blame both parties for not being able to get even the simplest task done. Since it appears rather clear that the GOP will at lease continue to control the House in the 113th Congress, and likely gain at least a seat or two in the Senate, the Obama campaign clearly wants to give them some reassurance that they wouldn’t just be guaranteeing more of business as usual by re-electing a Democratic President.

The question is how realistic this vision that Obama, Emanuel, and other Democrats are projecting of a new era of cooperation in Washington actually is given political reality. The first thing to note, of course, is that we hear these promises of a “new era” in Washington quite frequently, usually every four years, and as a general rule very little ever changes. Indeed, in recent election cycles, it seems as though these promises of a “new tone” have actually just resulted in the partisans on both sides digging in their heels and becoming more partisan. Don’t forget, Barack Obama entered office four years ago making similar promises only to find that not only weren’t Republicans going to bend over backwards to help him, but even that forces within his own party on Capitol Hill weren’t necessarily committed to advancing his agenda rather than their own pet projects and political careers. Why should anyone think he’d be any more successful in this task a second time around?

You don’t really need to look any further than what conservatives have said in the wake of Obama’s comments to realize that it wouldn’t be any easier for him to accomplish his agenda in a second term than it was in his first. Mitch McConnell said that it would be necessary for the President to have an “epiphany” in order for him to make any progress in his second term. And just in case there’s any doubt about McConnell’s meaning in that regard:

I think it depends on whether Obama has an epiphany,” McConnell said in an interview.

“You know, he’s not going to control the House,” McConnell told The Huffington Post, rejecting the idea that Democrats could reclaim the lower chamber. “He’s either going to be confronted with a narrow Republican majority in the Senate or a very robust Republican minority in the Senate. In other words, divided government.”

“You could argue that the four most significant legislative accomplishments of the last 25 years were actually done during divided government,” McConnell said. “[President Ronald] Reagan and [Democratic House Speaker] Tip O’Neill raised the age of social security, did comprehensive tax reform. [President] Bill Clinton and the Republicans did welfare reform and actually balanced the budget in the late 90s.”

“So my point is, he will not be able to do any more of [what he did in] the first two years,” McConnell said, referring to when the president’s Democratic allies controlled both the House and Senate in 2009 and 2010.

“That’s over,” he said, making a slashing motion with his left hand.

National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru expresses similar sentiments:

Republicans, especially at the grassroots level, would react to Obama’s re-election by assuming that Romney failed because he was too moderate. That’s a very widespread view among Republicans about why Senator John McCain lost in 2008. During the primaries, many of Romney’s opponents argued that he would lose because he would fail to energize conservatives. This interpretation of 2008 is probably wrong, and it will probably be the wrong explanation for a Romney defeat, if it happens. It will nonetheless be an appealing theory for conservatives.

(…)

The Republicans aren’t going to change. Judging from the interview, neither will the president. He said that after the election he would tell Republicans “you no longer need to be focused on trying to beat me; what you need to be focused on and what you should have been focused on from the start is how do we advance the American economy.” He would reiterate that he has always been open to compromise. And he would “look at how we can work around Congress,” if needed.

In other words, after winning he will lecture Republicans about how their positions are insincere and adopted purely for political reasons; he will insist that his existing positions are already a compromise with them; and he will try to govern unilaterally. These tactics seem unlikely to produce the desired results. Obama has, after all, adopted all of them, and they haven’t worked.

Andrew Sullivan disagrees with Ponnuru’s assessment of how the GOP would react to a Romney defeat, and asserts that the selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate along with Romney’s seeming adoption of many of Ryan’s ideas will make it impossible for conservatives to blame a November loss on “Romney the RINO.” This is a tempting hypothesis, and it’s one that I initially adopted myself in the wake of the Ryan announcement last month. It’s even likely the most logical response to a Republican defeat given that the Democrats are attempting to set up this election as a choice between competing visions rather than a referendum on Obama’s Presidency. Logical or not, though, I’m not at all sure that this is how Republicans would react if Romney lost. For one thing, the GOP contingent that is likely to be making this argument isn’t nearly as powerful in the party as the conservative faction is, and thus not as able to advance its cause. For another, the grassroots response to a Romney loss will be set in motion not by party leaders, but by the Rush Limbaugh’s and Sean Hannity’s of the world, and there’s no way they are ever going to admit that they were wrong. If anything else, the GOP  is likely to drift further to the right after a defeat, especially if, as appears likely, the power of Tea Party influenced candidates is increased in the 113th Congress.

Finally, Dave Schuler makes an important point that the President, Emanuel, and other Democrats conveniently forget when they assert that the President’s re-election should “send a message” to Republicans, even if it is accompanied by the likely strengthening of GOP power on Capitol Hill:

[T]here is not just one election. Each of the 535 members of Congress won their own elections. Their constituents have delivered their verdicts, too. If President Obama wins re-election it will be because the voters believed he was a better choice than Mitt Romney not because they thought he was the best of all possible choices. They will have made other choices, too, in electing their Congressional representatives, senators, governors, and so on. The branches of government are co-equal. Congress is not subordinate to the presidency. If anything it’s the other way around.

Dave suggests that the real reason for comments were hearing from the President and others on this topic has nothing to do with appeals to bipartisanship and everything to do with getting ready for the resumption of those battles in 2013 and beyond. That clearly seems to be what’s going on here. There isn’t going to be any end to the battles in Washington, there never has been before despite the lofty ambitions and soaring rhetoric of previous Presidents. The President and Emanuel are too smart to know that this is the case.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Campaign 2012, Congress, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. al-Ameda says:

    Mitch McConnell answered the topic question well:

    I think it depends on whether Obama has an epiphany,” McConnell said in an interview.

    Essentially, Obama is going to have to capitulate to Republican demands if he wants to get anything done.

  2. I think the name “Norquist” should appear in this story.

    The single thing that matters is whether the Norquist pledge breaks down after the Obama re-election, or not.

    John’s maxim: No party with a non-negotiation pledge has standing to complain about lack of negotiation on the other side.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I love that this is now the official “GOP Message of the Day.” No, we won’t become rational! We’ll still be insane! So vote for Mitt Romney if you want to get anything done.

    Ah, remember the days when Republicans thought they’d clean Obama’s clock? Just a few short months from fantasies of domination to threatening ongoing lunacy.

    The water-carrying is looking more and more like a job in a sewage treatment plant.

  4. C. Clavin says:

    I may be naive…but I think if Obama wins Tom Colburn is going to hold more sway than Mitch the Turtle Face. McConnell made getting Obama out of office his number one piority…and he will have failed.
    But in any case…
    I would rather have 4 more years of total gridlock than to reward Republicans for their borderline treasonous behavior during the last 3-1/2 years.

  5. MBunge says:

    What’s being missed in that this is that Democrats and liberals aren’t the only people who want things from government. Wall Street, the Chamber of Commerce and a whole host of other GOP-supporting entities have their own particular agendas they want advanced. They’ve accepted the gridlock of the last 2 years because they were “all in” on defeating Obama in 2012. How many of them will accept waiting another 4 years to have their own concerns and needs addressed? Unless the GOP gets a veto-proof majority in Congress, it is Obama who has the whip hand in a second term. It is they who won’t be able to get anything done.

    Mike

  6. C. Clavin says:

    Actually I’m looking forward to the House voting to repeal Obamacare 33 more times.

  7. What really amazes me is that “the MSM” has fallen into a pattern like this:

    “Republicans demand spending cuts only, while Democrats want both spending cuts and tax increases”

    (drum-roll)

    “making compromise impossible.”

  8. michael reynolds says:

    @john personna:

    Republican politics is about tribalism and destroying their hated opponent and not about the country. Guys like Everett Dirksen would be ashamed. Hell, Barry Goldwater would be ashamed.

    Tribe before country. Because it’s worked so well in so many places around the world.

  9. JKB says:

    I don’t know, if Obama wins will the Senate Democrats finally offer a Yea vote for one of his budgets?

    Would Barack “I won” Obama be more likely to work to achieve bipartisanship with Congress? Would the temper tantrums be less frequent?

    For the Republicans, perhaps if Obama won and the Democrats routed the ground in the House and Senate. But if not, the the voters are obviously voting for gridlock.

  10. David M says:

    @JKB:

    if Obama wins will the Senate Democrats finally offer a Yea vote for one of his budgets?

    Will there be a vote on one of his actual budgets, or just more GOP stunts?

    On the subject of if Obama’s re-election would end or lessen the gridlock, it doesn’t matter. The important question to ask is if the GOP should be rewarded for their obstruction? Is it better for the country if the minority party refuses to govern responsibly and faces no consequences? We don’t have a parliamentary system, so absolutely not.

  11. rudderpedals says:

    The answer is yes, the gridlock should lessen. Iterative rounds of Prisoners Dilemma show the best results for all are in initial cooperation (no gridlock) followed by tit-for-tat retaliation. Does anyone know if the result has been disproven?

    If not then retaliation is in the cards for prospective Pres Romney, whereas President Obama in the 2nd term has a chance to reset the game. Everyone’s state will have changed. I do not favor gridlock at this time so it seems like this outcome would be best for all.

  12. Nikki says:

    I would rather have 4 more years of total gridlock than to reward Republicans for their borderline treasonous behavior during the last 3-1/2 years.

    Amen, brother. Let them continue their gridlock, then stand back while the Congress turns blue in 2014.

  13. Just Me says:

    I mostly expect more gridlock.

    No matter who wins the senate it is going to be a narrow victory.

    I also don”t think Obama has it in him to work with the other party in a meaningful way.

    Not really a fan of McConnell or Reid and my wish is for either or both of them to get tossed from leadership, but I don’t think either party is going to do that.

  14. jan says:

    No.

    Reelecting Obama will increase polarization, not only in DC, but in the populace across the country. There are few ‘mellow’ or moderate opinions regarding President Obama’s job performance.

    Most people are either on the side of thinking Obama has done a good enough job, continuing to look backwards blaming his predecessor for all ills of the economy, including any reasons for a limp recovery — if they are even able to admit describing the recovery in such honest terms. Others will just regale the recovery as being fine, considering what Obama ‘inherited’. Ironically, most private sector bosses are summarily fired for such excuses.

    Others see if differently. Many of these people hold Bush accountable for his part in aiding and abetting the crash of ’08. Many were also against his push for TARP to save the banking industry. But, many more have come to believe that the guy taking over in ’09 has bogged the recovery down even more with unproductive layers of government regulation and an unhealthy growth of social programs. The rise in poverty, disability claims, those seeking public assistance, the general demoralization of people seeing future improvements to their families, static employment numbers, persistent EU numbers (although I think that will ‘magically’ change to coincide with Obama’s acceptance speech) demonstrates, to large numbers of people, that Obama’s changes did not work to put this country back to work and on the road to more than an anemic recovery.

    These people clearly hold Obama accountable for the economical failures and problems in ’12, just as the majority saw Bush’s policies as bringing about the fiscal collapse at the end of his term in office. And, these people will not docilely fall back into the shadows, should Obama claim the presidency once again. In fact, I think they will be even more outspoken about their discontent. I also believe most businesses will continue, in their current modes of operation, to save themselves rather than risk putting up any more capital than is necessary, which does not bode well for any significant economical growth or job creation in the next 4 years.

    So, no, reelecting Obama, IMO will only ratchet up the polarization and gridlock in Washington, making for another miserable political era.

    BTW, no matter how great given speeches have been in both conventions, there is an enormous fraction of the country who are bypassing words, and simply looking for experience, deeds and actions in deciding who wins their vote. For instance, in the 2010 midterms, Obama and his crew were ‘stunned’ (according to the new Woodward book being released this week) in the outcome of the people’s choices, midway through Obama’s term in office. Obama acolytes are, however, now crowing about how they have this election in the bag. But, that remains to be seen…….because what has changed from 2010 to now?

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @jan:
    Republicans have stated in the past that they have no intention of cooperating with this president – I take them at their word that will continue to obstruct everything this president proposes in the 2013-2016 term..

  16. C. Clavin says:

    “…Most people are either on the side of thinking Obama has done a good enough job, continuing to look backwards blaming his predecessor for all ills of the economy…”
    What mindless drivel.
    Take a look at the graphic on this webpage.
    http://www.cbpp.org/research/index.cfm?fa=topic&id=121
    What do you see? Deficits from Bush programs and policies as far as the eye can see. Only a child would think the impact of policies stop on inauguration day.
    Polarization will continue because people like you harbor irrational hatred instead of pursueing rational thought.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    A party that chooses mindless obstruction over co-operation to solve actual problems is not fit for office.

    Mitch McConnell, ladies and gentlemen: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

    Not control the deficit, not get us out of Iraq, not kill Osama bin Laden, not protect the country, not manage the soaring costs of medical care, not increase hiring.

    Defeat that alien, Kenyan, Muslim, negro, other. That’s the Republican party. Party first, last, and only.

  18. @jan:

    Google search “A Republican Ticket From Far Right Field” and you’ll get access to Alan Blinder’s WSJ piece.

    There is more, but this list should be enough to illustrate the stark nature of the voters’ choice. President Obama stands with President Eisenhower’s emphasis on building infrastructure, with President Reagan’s willingness to raise taxes to reduce the deficit, and with President George H.W. Bush’s call for a kinder, gentler economic policy. Mitt Romney stands with Barry Goldwater and Herbert Hoover.

    I know you don’t see it that way, but … there it is.

  19. Argon says:

    I expect that reelection of Obama will cause McConnell’s power to diminish. It won’t necessarily end gridlock but it would hopefully be a fitting end for Mitch’s career.

  20. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: Seconding Michael, here – the Rameshes and Dougs are basically threatening to shoot the hostage.

  21. C. Clavin says:

    Hey Jan…
    The S&P 500 hit the highest level since January ’08.
    Boy that Obama sure is an economic failure. And a soshulist too!!!

  22. C. Clavin says:

    Hey Jan…
    The NASDAQ closed at the highest level since 2000.
    Gloom, dispair, and agony on me.

  23. David M says:

    @jan:

    Obama acolytes are, however, now crowing about how they have this election in the bag. But, that remains to be seen…….because what has changed from 2010 to now?

    It’s pretty well known that the group of people voting in the midterm elections is a different from the group of people that vote in presidential elections. The electorate this year will be much closer to 2008 than 2010.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    “…It’s pretty well known…”

    That leaves Jan out.

  25. Tsar Nicholas says:

    What’s especially rich about all this is that the liberal media deathly was silent on the topics of “gridlock” and “polarization” during prior decades, right up until the time the shoe found itself on the other foot.

    When for example George Mitchell and Tom Daschle overtly and viciously endeavored to destroy H.W. Bush’s presidency, hey, not a problem, all good, move along, nothing to see here. That said the nature of liberal media bias has become so pervasive even pointing it out has become trite and banal.

    But what makes this nonsensical meme even that more preposterous is that, as noted above, when a politician is elected it’s her job to do what her constituents have tasked her with doing. When for example you’re a Republican who’s elected to the House of Representatives you’re given a public office with a public salary to effectuate the wishes of the voters who elected you. If that means opposing the agenda of the opposite-party president then that’s what that means. Politics is not a college debate society. Advocating on behalf of one’s constituents is not per se “obstructionism,” even if gridlock is the result. It’s the very nature and the essence of politics.

  26. @Tsar Nicholas:

    What’s especially rich about all this is that the liberal media deathly was silent on the topics of “gridlock” and “polarization” during prior decades, right up until the time the shoe found itself on the other foot.

    I’m very confident that you will be educated on this. It would have been better though if you’d looked for a filibuster chart yourself, before posting.

  27. C. Clavin says:

    Oh boy it’s the liberal media meme-bot.

  28. Scott F. says:

    This may be too rosy a view, but I see it playing out like this…

    As the economy improves (as is likely in the next four years if only because economic conditions are cyclical), the Republicans will come around. Not because they will have tempered their politics, but out of their basic instincts for self-preservation.

    Obama is personally popular now, despite the poor economy hanging around his neck like an albatross. As the US exits Afghanistan in 2014 and other popular elements of ACA kick in, his popularity will only rise. The obstructionism will not play so well when Obama has the wind at his back for once. In order to keep their jobs in 2014, they’ll cooperate more by necessity.

  29. James in LA says:

    @Argon: McConnell’s failure represents the complete disaster of the modern GOP, a child in a business suit who thinks what he thinks is important, and nothing else.

  30. Bob says:

    @al-Ameda:
    It is more than not cooperating with this president. Modern Republicans will not cooperate with Democrats. Period. Recall when W got re-elected in ’04… he made an asshole statement soon after the election about how he was willing to work with Democrats… as long as they went along with the Republican program and more or less did what Republicans told them to do. Apparently, Republicans regard Democrats as not being real Americans, or not having real American values.

  31. David M says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    when a politician is elected it’s her job to do what her constituents have tasked her with doing. When for example you’re a Republican who’s elected to the House of Representatives you’re given a public office with a public salary to effectuate the wishes of the voters who elected you. If that means opposing the agenda of the opposite-party president then that’s what that means.

    A politician’s constituents are not only the people that voted for them. This also does not explain why the GOP are opposing policies that are popular, or refusing to negotiate to reach compromise solutions. Also, the wishes of the constituents can’t be the single overriding concern for politicans, especially when the GOP influences those wishes with nonsense like “Death Panels”.

  32. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    simply looking for experience

    Let’s take a look. Governor Romney said his states poor economic performance during his tenure had to be judged taking the situation he inherited from his predecessor into consideration.

    Mr. Ryan is a career politician, with no business experience. He has a long history of voting in favor of budget busting bills.

    People are looking, and they don’t like what they see. If the election were held today, Obama would easily clear 300 electoral votes.

    Outside of the Foxverse, few are buying what Mr. Romney and the Marathon Man are selling.

  33. Lomax says:

    Things will not change regardless of who is “elected”. Just look at the two conventions: pre-planned, staged, choreographed, and scripted. No spontaneity allowed. What you won’t hear from either candidate: they will get the US out of the UN and the UN out of the US, they will not sign any international economic or other kind of treaties including so called climate treaties, US military will not serve under UN or NATO command, the Federal Reserve will be audited and investigated, international financial cartels will not control the US economy, they will stand up to the oil conglomerates and emirates, they will not be a member of the CFR or the Trilateral Commission, they will not allow any limits on US sovereignty. Wake up!

  34. mantis says:

    @Lomax:

    Ok, Paulbot. You’ve executed your program. Move along.

  35. al-Ameda says:

    @Bob:

    Apparently, Republicans regard Democrats as not being real Americans, or not having real American values.

    That is so true.

    The Republican Party has not accepted the last two Democratic presidents as legitimate. Clinton? They spent the entire 8 years trying to remove him from office by any means, they investigated him for 6 years and eventually impeached him. Obama? As soon as he was elected the GOP spawned a Birther Movement, and announced publicly that they were not going to support any of his initiatives, no cooperation whatsoever.

  36. Hoyticus says:

    Enough of this “Obama hasn’t done enough on the economy” garbage. The POTUS has very little control over the economy outside of Federal Reserve appointments. Congress has almost all the power. They come up with the budget and how it’s structured. This is just getting childish. The economy sucks because of private debt and people struggling to pay it down as they either have no job or their wages decreased. If there’s no private demand to fill the gap you either need stimulus or increased exports. But if the dollar keeps strengthening against currencies from countries that import our goods we can’t export as much.

  37. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    @anjin-san:

    “People are looking, and they don’t like what they see. If the election were held today, Obama would easily clear 300 electoral votes.

    Keep telling yourself that, anjin. I hope for just the opposite. But, I don’t have that kind of bravado, nor mentality, to assume that ‘my guy’ will roll over his opponent.

  38. Nikki says:

    …because what has changed from 2010 to now?

    Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan became the GOP nominees.

  39. Nikki says:

    @jan:

    But, I don’t have that kind of bravado, nor mentality, to assume that ‘my guy’ will roll over his opponent.

    Good, because he won’t.

  40. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    I’m not assuming anything, a lot can happen between now and November. But people that are serious about politics know that things are not going well for team Romney.

  41. mattb says:

    @jan:

    But, I don’t have that kind of bravado, nor mentality, to assume that ‘my guy’ will roll over his opponent.

    Well, considering that it takes 270 electoral votes to win, and given the breakup of the swing states, the eventual winner of the election breaking 300 is well within the range of normal possibility. So, unless Romney wins with the Bush 2004 map, chances are that the eventual winner will “roll” over his opponent in this way.

  42. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    “But people that are serious about politics know that things are not going well for team Romney. “

    You see, that is where I think you are deluding yourself. Romney and Obama are virtually tied in the national polling, which I think even Carter was ahead of Reagan in early September. The swing states are quietly closing the R & D gaps too. Even Ohio is looking better for Romney with a Gravis Poll giving Romney a +3 lead. Now, I don’t know if that will hold. But, no one I know of thinks that the Romney’s ship is going down, at the moment.

    I also see a whole other kind of public connection with the democratic convention. Out in the world, beyond the dem love fest, the democratic convention has not been heralded as a success. Pot-holed Antonio Villaraigoso is nothing but an ethic figure-head in Los Angeles, who was embarrassed by the vote taken dealing with God and the capitol of Israel. American Arabs are unhappy with what was clearly not a 2/3s vote. Jews, OTOH, feel slighted by the original omission, which was preapproved by Obama. Debbie Wasserman is being called the Baghdad Bob of the convention for some of her misrepresentations and distortions of the truth dealing with Israel, and that sad floor vote, caught on camera and in interviews. Elizabeth Warren, with her feigned American Indian ethnicity ploy to gain employment, was something else in lamenting “the system is rigged” theme in her speech. People like her rigged it. Then you have the parade of old, OLD democratic Senators, such a contrast with the young, more vibrant bench on display in the R Convention. Clinton was given kudos for a good speech, but also compared to an “oldies but goodies” radio station, playing all the tunes of the past that made a certain age group (baby boomers) feel good. He was taking them back to the 90’s and replaying that era, when we are starkly looking at 2012, including the end of the Mayan Calendar, and it just doesn’t sync in with today’s worries and problems.

    This is strictly an Obama and Romney duel. You can bring in distractions like Clinton, Hollywood babes, and cool popular musicians, but this election is not a game show. It’s about the future prospects of real families. The R Convention might have been, according to Obama, an un-hip black and white movie. However, for many people’s tastes, it represented more of the real deal than what is being beamed in from Charlotte, NC.

  43. anjin-san says:

    @ Jan

    You see, that is where I think you are deluding yourself. Romney and Obama are virtually tied in the national polling,

    A close election that’s not close, by James Joyner

    Like i said Jan, people who are serious about politics. That’s a conversation you are not part of. Read & learn something.

  44. anjin-san says:

    Jan why don’t you tell us how the GOP pulling ads from Michigan (Romney’s home state) and PA is a sign of an even race? Someone who is in a horse race does not surrender real estate.

  45. Scott O says:

    @C. Clavin: There’s only one logical conclusion. Those numbers were ‘magically’ changed to coincide with Obama’s acceptance speech.

  46. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    James has his opinion, but that’s all it is. Maybe he will be proven right, or maybe he will be proven otherwise. But, posting a link about how one person sees the election is hardly electrifying or deemed reason for one to throw in the towel… or, for that matter, simulating condescension when another has a different POV, which is supported by evidence to the contrary, called current polling.

    BTW, did you feel the same way about the 2010 midterms — that the House would either stay in Pelosi’s control, or there would be relatively little democratic turn-over in that branch of Congress, or in the state houses across the country?

  47. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    Who says they are surrending? The unbiased media? I think Romney has a chance in MI. PA, though, is looking more like an Obama capture.

    This entire week, though, Romney has ‘gone dark’ on his campaigning. Some are calling it a political courtesy to the D convention — something practiced in more civil times. It certainly was not something Obama entertained when the R’s were in Tampa.

    However, once both conventions are out of the way, strategies will be more apparent from both partys’ side, and then we’ll have the debates to debate over.

  48. anjin-san says:

    BTW, did you feel the same way about the 2010 midterms — that the House would either stay in Pelosi’s control

    I have long experience with Pelosi, and always considered her a mediocracy, her tenure as Speaker was more about making history than good politics. That being said, at least she could deliver her caucus – more than you can say for Boehner.

    You might want to pay a bit less attention to polls and more to electoral math. That is the name of the game.

  49. anjin-san says:

    more civil times

    Like the times Romney has engaged in birther dogwhistles?

  50. David M says:

    @jan:

    Clinton was given kudos for a good speech, but also compared to an “oldies but goodies” radio station, playing all the tunes of the past that made a certain age group (baby boomers) feel good. He was taking them back to the 90′s and replaying that era, when we are starkly looking at 2012, including the end of the Mayan Calendar, and it just doesn’t sync in with today’s worries and problems.

    I’m not sure you watched the same speech as everyone else, Clinton was very specific and detailed when discussing the challenges and issues we are currently facing.

  51. LC says:

    No, it won’t … which is the most depressing part of this election.

    But I have a tactical question about the convention. Now, I did not watch every single speech, but I don’t recall anybody talking about either the House or the Senate, about the filibuster, about the obstructionism. Obama can’t, doesn’t have a sliver of a hope. of accomplishing anything he wants without at least one of the two Houses in Democratic hands.

    I didn’t expect him to address it in his speech, but shouldn’t somebody at some point in the convention basically explained the way the government operates and made a plea for supporting Democratic candidates?

    I mean, I suspect that less than half of American voters don’t even know the Congress has two houses, with two senators per state in one of them. And if even 1/4 know about the filibuster rules, I’d be vastly surprised. With a national audience, and pundits having to fill up time, wouldn’t this have been an excellent opportunity for Govt. 101?

    Or is there some kind of rule or policy or standard practice which prohibits a convention from focusing on anything other then the President?

  52. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    “You might want to pay a bit less attention to polls and more to electoral math. That is the name of the game. “

    I’m paying attention to both. Some of the states that are blue for Obama, in the electoral math you reference, are close, very close in their polling differences.

    OH —> .7
    VA —> .6
    CO —> 2.3
    MI —> 2.4
    Iowa –> .2
    FL —-> .6

    All these states show Obama ahead with paltry number, all within the MOE. And, the trend is showing they are slowly decreasing in their margins between Obama and Romney. So, the electoral math could easily change…..

  53. jan says:

    @David M:

    “I’m not sure you watched the same speech as everyone else, Clinton was very specific and detailed when discussing the challenges and issues we are currently facing. “

    These are the comments of a constellation of people watching the speech. They’re not mine.

  54. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    This interpretation of 2008 is probably wrong, and it will probably be the wrong explanation for a Romney defeat, if it happens. It will nonetheless be an appealing theory for conservatives.

    Particularly if conservative outlets such as the National Review and Weekly Standard remain silent on the notion that the theory is wrong headed.

    And then, of course, there’s Jan to consider…

  55. anjin-san says:

    I’m paying attention to both

    And it is pretty clear you understand neither…

  56. jan says:

    Some random snapshots of tonight’s speech from Obama. It’s offering some outside the OTB world regarding the perspective of others:

    From Peggy Noonan of the WSJ

    Barack Obama is deeply overexposed and often boring. He never seems to be saying what he’s thinking. His speech Thursday was weirdly anticlimactic. There’s too much buildup, the crowd was tired, it all felt flat. He was somber, and his message was essentially banal: We’ve done better than you think. Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?

    There were many straw men. There were phrases like “the shadow of a shuttered steel mill,” which he considers writerly. But they sound empty and practiced now, like something you’ve heard in a commercial or an advertising campaign.

    It was stale and empty. He’s out of juice.

    Here’s a comment from another poster:

    This was a good night. Clearly the one has lost his groove. Reading the tweets about the speech and the responses of the Dems are almost sad to read. Sheer disappointment and true concern about the election. Booing God. Booing Israel. Booing the Cardinal. Having Debbie Downer as the face of the party. Using Gabi as a puppet. Having to move the speech to avoid the “empty chairs”. This has been a PR disaster. The pollsters will try to carry the water and show a bump but the reality is setting in among those who have any semblance of sanity left.

    This was posted during Obama’s speech

    Twitter reaction to the speech turned negative a few minutes in and stayed there.

    pic.twitter.com/b8VSLwWX

    As a postscript: Bloomberg came out and gave Clinton a pass on factchecking his speech. However, it is now common practice to factcheck the factcheckers, and Clinton’s speech accuracy is changing as others take a closer look. More to follow in the next couple of days.

  57. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    “And it is pretty clear you understand neither… “

    It’s becoming clear to me that you simply like to post oppositional comments, whether or not there is any credence behind them, which becomes annoying, because of it’s adolescent posturing It’s either that or you are caught up in rose-colored partisan bliss.

  58. Davebo says:

    Jan,

    Are you sure you want to pin your cap to a Peggy Noonan opinion? I mean, given her track record and all that could be as bad as counting on your own.

  59. superdestroyer says:

    @john personna:

    How can anyone negotiate with politicians who are making the offer of higher taxes today for the promise of spending cuts tomorrow. Reagan made that deal with the Democrats and the budget cuts never occurred. Bush I made that deal with the Democrats and the budget cuts never occurred.

    Budget cuts and balance budgets occurred with Clinton used triangulation to throw the Congressional Democrats under the bus. If President Obama wants to make deals with the Republicans, then he will have to throw the Congressional Republicans under the bus.

  60. @superdestroyer:

    How can anyone negotiate with politicians who are making the offer of higher taxes today for the promise of spending cuts tomorrow. Reagan made that deal with the Democrats and the budget cuts never occurred. Bush I made that deal with the Democrats and the budget cuts never occurred.

    I”m pretty sure that claim is made, before the schedule is even known. I think it has just become one of the things people say.

    But at some level, Congress always legislates about the future. If they don’t want to do that, they should turn off the lights and go home.

  61. slimslowslider says:

    @jan:

    Jan Rules!

    Upthread:

    James has his opinion, but that’s all it is. Maybe he will be proven right, or maybe he will be proven otherwise. But, posting a link about how one person sees the election is hardly electrifying or deemed reason for one to throw in the towel… or, for that matter, simulating condescension when another has a different POV, which is supported by evidence to the contrary, called current polling.

    Later…

    These are the comments of a constellation of people watching the speech. They’re not mine.

  62. mantis says:

    @jan:

    jan, it is entirely unnecessary for you to post random collections of opinions you find. We all know how to use the Internet, and nobody cares what you are reading.

  63. anjin-san says:

    It’s becoming clear to me that you simply like to post oppositional comments,

    Well, when you post unsourced polling numbers to support your argument, or repost something that some unknown person somewhere on the internets said that claims the Democrats are crumbling and put it forth as being somehow meaningful, sure.

    As for “rose-colored partisan bliss” – you really should invest in a mirror. You could also read my comments about Pelosi upthread.

  64. danimal says:

    Late to the party here, and maybe with all the ‘he said, she said” crap floating around, I’m wasting my time, but my $0.02…First of all, the question being asked assumes Obama wins reelection. Save the horserace banter for another thread, you’ll get one soon enough…

    Obstruction is both a tool and a strategy. The GOP has thrown almost everything into this stragegy. There are many, many things that GOP senators and representatives want to do with the power they have as an elected representative. They have sacrificed their priorities in order to execute their strategy and see a Republican win the White House. If their strategy fails and Obama wins reelection, they will develop a new strategy using a different set of tools depending on their needs and relative power. The new toolbox may or may not include obstruction. The tools they use will almost certainly be unpopular with Dems, but they may not be the same.

    Unity in the midst of a campaign is fairly easy to maintain. After an Obama reelection, the pressure for Republicans to moderate will be intense. Pragmatic Republicans understand that doubling down on the demographic mix of GOP support is a sure-fire way to electoral oblivion. They will want to appeal to a broader constituency, and that leads to making deals. Also, if Obama wins, the margin in the House will almost certainly shrink, and a switch to Dem control is possible. Representatives in purple districts will want something to show for 2014, and that means passing bills.

    Pragmatism and ideology are not mutually exclusive; the GOP pragmatists may not want to moderate their ideology, but they may see benefit to moderating their tactics.I believe the GOP leadership will likely pick their battles more carefully instead of maintaining a blanket obstructionist policy if Obama is reelected. They will certainly thwart Democratic priorities and will remain tough-minded negotiators. But I expect the experience of the past 2-4 years will lead to a more nuanced strategy and a revised GOP toolbox.

  65. Mary G says:

    @C. Clavin: This exactly. The Republicans’ behavior has been more and more despicable ever since President Obama was elected. Gridlock is best if the Democrats can’t take Congress too.

  66. David M says:

    @danimal:

    In other words, the gridlock will end when the GOP decides to end it.

  67. anjin-san says:

    In other words, the gridlock will end when the GOP decides to end it.

    I keep thinking back to the talk about the “permanent majority” during Bush’s Halcyon days. These folks are just not very excited about the whole democracy thing.

  68. danimal says:

    @David M: Yep. I really expect that things like a Grand Bargain (which was pretty favorable to conservatives) might pass if Obama’s reelected. On the other hand, I totally expect a SCOTUS nomination filibuster, or two, or three. I just think they will find it in their best interests to target their obstruction in the future.

  69. al-Ameda says:

    I know it sounds naive of me, but it would help if Obama proposed something like simplifying Sarbanes-Oxley regulations, in order to appeal to the GOP or representatives in tech states like California.

    Something like that might (just might, maybe) get a handful of obstructionist Republicans on board.