Obama: The Transactional President


Reading the news today, I came across an NPR article that I believe captured the political mood in the U.S. rather well.  While the stress of the article is on disillusionment from Obama’s base of supporters, I believe much the same dynamic is at play for crossover independent voters. But, apparently, the base has a lot to gripe about.

"There has been a great sense of disappointment among some of President Obama’s strongest supporters," Green says.

If that doesn’t change, he says, a lot of Democrats either won’t vote or won’t volunteer as foot soldiers for Democratic candidates in the upcoming year.

Intraparty Conflict

The president hasn’t actually lost many supporters among his base. Instead, polls show that it’s the intensity of his support that has diminished and the Republican grass-roots base is the one fired up and ready to go for the next election cycle.

Green’s issue is health care…

There are other intramural disagreements within the Democratic Party. Much of the Democratic base is opposed to the president’s troop increase in Afghanistan, although the alleged Christmas bomber may have taken some of the heat out of that sentiment.

Civil libertarians are angry Obama hasn’t yet closed down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hispanic lawmakers want more White House action on immigration reform, and even members of the Congressional Black Caucus are complaining he hasn’t done enough for African-Americans.

And then there’s labor. It’s a slightly smaller part of the Democratic vote than it used to be, but still crucial to the party in a midterm election. Steve Rosenthal, former political director of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations — the AFL-CIO — thinks Democrats will lose support with labor if it delays action on a bill that would make it easier to organize unions.

Clearly, these people are expecting too much from one year’s results. But, the quote from Anthony Weiner (D-NY), calling Obama a transactional figure more than an aspirational one, struck me as particularly on the mark. It is this transactional nature which I believe is at the heart of growing voter apathy on Obama – and not just from liberals. Here are the key paragraphs:

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"Despite the fact that the president wages an aspirational and ideological campaign, he’s turned out to be a very transactional president, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You have to make deals to get legislation passed," Weiner says. "But the problem is that many people in Congress don’t know what he believes about some of the big issues we are considering."

And that’s ironic, Weiner says, considering President Obama has made more progress toward the Democrats’ cherished goal of universal health coverage than any other Democratic president in a century. In what Weiner says should have been an unvarnished win for Democrats, Obama has actually lost support from his base.

"[It] may be it’s because their expectations are too high, but it could also be the president hasn’t shown them the type of fight that they would like to see," Weiner says.

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What happened to the “Audacity of Hope?”

More at the link below.


Obama’s Base Cools As It Watches Him Compromise – NPR

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