Monday, September 3, 2012

President Obama: Changing the game

Many of the "inside the beltway" reporters seem to be obsessed with President Obama's aloofness with the traditional power-brokers in Washington. Evidently it is Al Hunt's turn to express this concern about the President's "political persona."
If Barack Obama is re-elected, the biggest challenge won’t be ideological: He’s not the left-winger his opponents depict. The economy will be the dominant issue, events will shape others.

Instead, it may be personal, his political persona. Be it Democratic politicians or members of Congress, campaign contributors or business leaders, there is a common refrain: Obama doesn’t much identify with us, or even much respect what we do.

His relationship with most Democratic members of Congress lies somewhere between correct and cold. They believe that personal political loyalties are not an Obama priority.
Wash, rinse, repeat. We've heard this all before...the insiders don't like that the President doesn't seem to be interested in playing their game.

The trouble with the Al Hunt's of the world is that they think there's only one way to play the game. And anyone who doesn't do it well needs to change or be destined to fail. They literally can't see an alternative - even when its rolling out right in front of their eyes.

Interestingly enough, Michelle Obama gave these guys a heads up a long time ago about her husband when she said:
Barack is not a politician first and foremost. He's a community activist exploring the viability of politics to make change.
Pay attention folks...because that community activist is likely to be showing his colors a little bit more in a second term when his first priority is no longer to stop the U.S. from careening into a second Great Depression. Listen to this interchange between President Obama and Michael Scherer for TIME magazine.
Coming out of 2008, there was talk from you and from some of your staff that you could bring [your campaign's] sort of grassroots movement, the organization, to Washington. And 2009 ended up being very much an inside-Washington mirror. [The year] 2012 is different. But if you’re able to get a second term, have you thought about ways of doing what the sort of promise of 2008 was that was never achieved in terms of bringing larger numbers of people to have a voice in the political process?

I’ve given that a lot of thought. And I do think that we had the best of intentions in 2009 and 2010. Again, we had to move very quickly, which meant that our biggest concern was how do we get 60 votes right now to get this done.

We won’t be in that same kind of crisis, putting-out-the-fire mentality, in 2013–2014. There are a handful of big issues that we’re going to have to deal with...

But for me to get those accomplished, I do think I’m going to need to bring in the voices of the American people much more systematically, much more regularly.

Finding the right mechanisms to do that is something that we’re going to spend a lot of time thinking about. Obviously, the Internet and the digital age helps. We’ve been able to do that on our campaign. We now need to translate that more to how our government works. But I think the American people are ready for it.

The one thing I feel very strongly about, as I travel around the country, is that as anxious as people feel about the recession we’ve just gone through and the challenges that we’re getting from around the world, Americans are really tough, resilient and decent, and they’ve got good instincts. The more they are actively participating in this process, the better off we’re going to be.

I think that one other big argument I’ve gotten with Republicans is, they like to paint government as something alien and foreign and part of the problem, and if we can just shrink it and neuter it — or as Grover Norquist once said, Drown it in a tub, essentially — that somehow we’re going to be better off. That’s not how the founders conceived of our government. America is based on the idea of self-government, a government of and by and for the people — not of and by and for the lobbyists, not of and by and for the members of Congress, [but] of and by and for the people. And anything I can do to enhance that and to reconnect people with that idea will, I think, lead to better outcomes.
You see Mr. Hunt - President Obama isn't interested in playing your game...he wants to change it. You seem to think that all the power resides with politicians, business leaders, campaign contributors and people like you. President Obama thinks that self-government means that folks like us have a role to play in it all. And he's thinking a lot (I just love it when he does that!) about how to make sure that we get included in the conversation.

More than anything else, THIS is why I've always supported this man. Its interesting to me how many folks fail to see just how revolutionary this is on the one hand, and how its really just a way to reinvigorate the idea of democracy on the other. But its what we all should have expected when we elected a community activist as President.


  1. Again, it's the long game - he's always got his on the prize. He doesn't lose focus. It's amazing, when you consider how much he has on his plate.

  2. Exactly! Its the long game.

    I've read other people talk about how Obama hasn't changed the tone in Washington. Imagine 3 1/2 years he hasn't changed the tone of the biggest power game in the world!! I just laugh because he HAS changed it. He's brought that baby to a head. Stay tuned for Act II.

  3. This is hopeful bullshit.

    Where was the "revolution" in 2010? Where is it now in 2012? Where will it be in 2014? The electorate appears to have failed to properly pay attention. The actual elections have been playing out exactly as historical dynamics suggest they should.

    You can't "reinvent" government if you have no truck with statehouses. You'd need a surge of new Democratic leadership in governors and legislators state by state nationwide, and that, more than Washington, is where the Dem party is way behind.

    When does the administration get stuff done most efficiently and promptly? When they direct federal agencies under their command to do something. They use the preexisting infrastructure because that's what they won control of. They don't have a revolutionary front, they have a bunch of cabinet departments and agencies and bureaucracy.