Obama’s real deficit problem is the lack of enthusiasm among his supporters by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

If President Obama loses his reelection bid in 2012, it may be because he has disappointed so many who had such high hopes for him in 2008. This surely is not true for a relative handful of individuals, who bundled campaign contributions and raised a lot of money for the President, and who were richly rewarded for their efforts.

This week, the Center for Public Integrity issued a report that 200 of those bundlers got posts in the administration, as ambassadors, key staff appointees, or members of influential advisory boards.

According to the report, 184 of 556, about a third, of Obama bundlers or their spouses got administration appointments. But four out of every five of the biggest bundlers (who raised more than half a million dollars) got “key administration posts.”

This, despite then-candidate Obama’s pledge to end this business-as-usual approach to politics. Clinton did it. Both Bushes did it, and Presidents before that. That Obama has kept pace with his oft criticized predecessors is disappointing. In fact, Obama’s catering to big donors is even greater than that of George W. Bush.

Nor should we be mollified by a White House statement that having donated $50,000 or raised/bundled $500,000 didn’t ensure such plum posts as the reward but that having contributed handsomely shouldn’t disqualify someone. How unbelievably lame. And how unbelievably naïve of us even to have believed things would change.

There are other reasons for Obama supporters to be disappointed. As Congressman Michael Capuano pointed out at this week’s New England Council breakfast, in Washington’s polarized environment, the President has not been an effective negotiator. When Obama couldn’t get the Republicans to agree to a budget that included restoring the Bush tax cuts to family earnings over $250,000, he should have gone for a $500,000 cutoff, or even $1 million, just to walk away with something that established the principle that we can’t afford to continue the Bush tax cuts if we want to curb the deficit. Obama’s failure to bargain tough on that issue weakens his position in the debt ceiling showdown.

Obama’s actions in Libya, in apparent violation of the War Powers Act, is another disappointment, highly evocative of past Presidential adventurism and surprising from a President who taught Constitutional law. As Capuano, who is one of those suing the President for not going to Congress for approval of our Libyan military involvement, avers, “No one person should have the power to take the country to war…..If you can do it in Libya, you can do it in China or Iran. If Obama can do it, any president can do it.”

The overwhelming part of Obama’s base, like Capuano, will not defect to a different candidate, but at this point there’s clearly an enthusiasm deficit. How much might be measured by this quarter’s financing by small donors. An enthusiasm deficit could also play out in reduced Democratic turnout in next year’s election, particularly in such battleground states as North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and Florida. How much excitement gets revived for Obama may hinge on whom the GOP selects for its nominee, and that is far from clear.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

16 Responses to Obama’s real deficit problem is the lack of enthusiasm among his supporters by Marjorie Arons-Barron

  1. PaulM says:

    My family recently sent our first check to the President’s campaign organization for the re-election effort. I’m very enthusiastic. I think he has done a helluva job considering what he was handed by the Bush administration and unregulated financial sector. He has followed through on many of the promises he made as a candidate, including winding down two wars. His stimulus policy stabilized the economy in early 2009, and he saved the car-makers with bold action. He moved health-care policy in the right direction. He made first-rate appointments to the Supreme Court. Every time I see a picture of the Obama family in and around the White House I feel good about what they project for the condition of American society. Barack and Michelle and their daughters offer a fine example of a young family that values educational achievement, healthy living, patriotism and public service, cultural vitality, economic justice, and compassion for humankind.. He has fulfilled the responsibilities of the presidency very well in a toxic political atmosphere. As our chief representative to the rest of the world, he has represented the nation admirably and provided important if balanced leadership from the U.S. He and his team terminated Osama Bin Laden.

  2. Righty Bulger says:

    Bottome line, despite the President’s best efforts to stimulate the economy it is still stagnant at best and perhaps even moving backward again. We’re far enough away from the original downturn and the beginning of the rebound where the economy should be humming. At this point, blaming George Bush is wishful thinking on the part of blind partisans. The recovery started and stalled. If you’re going to give Obama credit for the recovery, you must also assign blame for the stall. You can’t have it both ways.

    Ultimately, Obama’s fate won’t be decided by partisans on either side of the aisle. It’ll be decided by those of us in the middle of the road, who voted to give him a chance in 2008 and have been largely underwhelmed by his performance. If you want to find the next President of the United States, don’t pay attention to the lefities or righties. Follow the Independents. They’re the ones who will swing the key states. Right now, Obama is 50-50 at best. If the Elephants put up a credible centrist candidate, those odds will drop.

  3. DickH says:

    Obama won’t be running against some objective standard but against another candidate. That’s why the media is swooning over Huntsman these days – they see him as moderate enough to attract swing voters who have grown impatient with the President. But Huntsman is far too reasonable (sounding) to have any hope of securing the nomination in today’s Republican Party. To gain that nomination, a candidate will have to embrace a litany of extremist positions that will so turn-off swing voters (especially after a $100+ million in negative ads) that the President will not only win a second term, but control of Congress might swing back towards the Democrats as well.

  4. Jack Mitchell says:

    Why is RB posing as an objective Independent?

    I don’t disagree with the conjecture, but it is not a first hand experience.

  5. Righty Bulger says:

    Because I am objective, Jack. I actually voted for your guy in 2008. When’s the last time you voted GOP in a presidential race?

  6. Michael Luciano says:

    I voted for Obama in 2008, but he has been such a disappointment that I won’t be doing that again. Rather than “winding down two wars,” he has doubled down in Afghanistan, has escalated drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen, and commenced an armed attack on Libya, which by now is illegal even under the highly permissive War Powers Resolution. On the campaign trail in 2008 he said he’d never take military action without Congressional approval, but he has. On the campaign trail he said he’d close Gitmo, but he hasn’t. On the campaign trail he said he would roll back the most constitutionally suspect parts of the Patriot Act, but he has not.

    His health care law will facilitate a large trasferal of wealth to HMOs and the pharmaceutical industry, mandating as it does that people–simply by virtue of being alive–engage in commerce with private parties, a first in federal lawmaking.

    His reappointment of Ben Bernanke to Fed chair might be his most unconscionable act of all, with his money printing and zero percent interest rates that have succeeded in inflating asset prices, while doing nothing to lower unemployment.

    We are currently in the third term of the Bush administration as far as I’m concerned.

  7. PaulM says:

    Michael: From nytimes.com at 6.12 pm on June 22: “President Obama plans to announce Wednesday that he will order 10,000 troops to pull out of Afghanistan this year, and another 20,000 troops by the end of next summer.” Yes, he “surged” the number of troops based on a military strategy that he believed was necessary, but he is drawing down now.

    On health care, in Mass. you must have insurance to register a vehicle to drive on public roads. Is it such a stretch to expect people to insure themselves for health care as members of society interacting with others, provided there are affordable options?

  8. Michael Luciano says:

    Paul, when Obama was sworn in, there were less than US 40,000 troops in Afghanistan. There are now about 100,000. So even with the withdrawal of 10,000 by the end of the year, there will still be 50,000 more troops in Afghanistan than when he took over. That’s a weird conception of “drawing down.”

    Regarding auto insurance, the state doesn’t force you to buy it unless you decide to buy and register a vehicle. Driving, as you know, is considered a privilige, and so the enjoyment of it is subject to various conditions. The health insurance mandate is different in that it forces citizens–simply because they are alive–to engage in a certain private commercial activity.

  9. Joe S says:

    I’m in between Paul and Michael on this. As an ardent supporter in 2008 I had great hopes that we would divert from business-as-usual. In several respects I have been disappointed. The Stimulus plan was over-sold, the extension of tax cuts for the rich was disappointing and the entering of conflict in Libya went against his promises. Taking on health care was the right thing to do, but the resulting legislation is showing its immaturity. Depressed interest rates hurt the savers in the country, and our lack of savings was a key factor in the excessive account deficits that drove our trade balance off the track.

    However, what I expect from Obama’s opponents is the old business that got us down the wrong road in the first place. A half a loaf is better than none. However, he must remember the old saying “it’s the economy, stupid!”. And he should go back and look at his promises in 2008 as he steers us through the next year and a half.

  10. Jack Mitchell says:

    I’ll admit to be disappointed, as well. Though I won’t go as far as saying we have a third Bush presidency, as I still own my home. However, it is safe to say, imho, that we have the equivalent of a Hillary Clinton White House.

    Recalling the slate of 2007 hopefuls, there isn’t one that I would choose over Obama.

    And to Righty, I can’t afford to vote Republican. My apologies for my misinterpeting the rather hyperbolic right-wing talking points you sling up here. I do as much from time to time.

  11. C R Krieger says:

    Are we sure a Hillary Administration would be worse than the current Administration?  Just this last Wednesday a Democrat I know said that she liked Huntsman on TV, but still preferred Hillary.  I think there is a lot of brand loyalty out there.

    As for the comment above:  “But Huntsman is far too reasonable (sounding) to have any hope of securing the nomination in today’s Republican Party.”, I have to wonder if he is not being seen as a form of Democrat.  Taking him from that lens, how does Huntsman line up against President Obama?

    There are Republicans out there who honestly think that Lord Keynes was wrong and thus our approach to getting out of the recession is wrong.  If Keynes was, in fact, wrong (or is at least wrong for this time), then it is going to be tough getting to right.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  12. Righty Bulger says:

    Again Jack, you are wrong. I don’t sling right wing talking points. I sling my opinions, which as you can by the comments on this post alone are very much in line with the majority of middle of the road Americans, if not some left-leaners. I would venture to say you are much more a puppet of the left with your talking points than I ever could be of the right.

    That said, you are right about the GOP needing to avoid an extreme right candidate. To my thiinking, their best chance is Romney. Will they choose him or destory him? I’m not sure yet. If they do and a Bachman-like candidate emerges, once again my vote will go for Obama.

    One more thing. You CAN afford to go Republican. You’re just too close minded to realize it.

  13. Jack Mitchell says:

    Teh Google
    Do me a favor Andrew. Next time you’re in need of medical care, hop a flight and spend some time in Europe getting care. Then you can come back and lecture us about the horrors of America’s system vs. the wonders of socialized medicine.
    I find it amusing how Democrats are already scrambling to explain their November losses, before they even occur. Any excuse, any justification they can find except the truth. Obama, Pelosi and Reid were given the keys to the car because of Bush and “Gingrich” fatigue after 14 years in power. They mistakenly thought they’d been given a mandate to force their extreme liberal ideaology on a relatively conservative nation. They went too far and will have lost it all within two years, or four years in Pelosi’s case.
    Your overall taxes went down Andrew? Here in Massachusetts, the home of the donkey?

    Please, don’t insult our intelligence. Talk to the true middle class people, not the liberal elite. See our tax bills on ALL levels. Our taxes aren’t going down my friend. Not by a long shot.

    I’m sure, Righty, when surrounded by Teabaggers, you are the moderate. The one with an amazing grasp of right wing parrot points.

  14. Righty Bulger says:

    Again Jack, only slower this time so maybe you can get it.

    I’ve never belonged to a political party in my life. Never once recited anything from a talking point. What I say is my own thoughts, nobody else’s. I can think and act for myself, forming my opinion based on my thoughts, not anyone elses. There are hundreds of millions of people in this country. It only stands to reason that many of us will see things the same and say the same things. There are only so many angles you can approach a topic from. If you choose to think anyone who disagrees with you does so solely because they’re reading or borrowing from someone else’s “talking points” as you so call them, you are only highlighting your own ignorance.

    Now you can go back to the inbox and see if Lynne and Blue Mass group have sent you the weekly memo detailing your opinions. Wake me up when you show some real independence and actually vote for someone other than a donkey. Or not. Many folks live their entire lives as lemmings and are quite happy.

  15. Jack Mitchell says:

    That was a rather pedantic way of blurting, “I know you are, but what am I.”

    Gotta run. I think Rachel Maddow is about to tell me what to think the troop withdrawls in Af/Pak.

  16. Righty Bulger says:

    Yes, that’s why I don’t have to watch MSNBC. I know you’ll have the cliff notes version for me soon!