August 13, 2009


Obama and the Permanent Campaign (KARL ROVE, 8/13/09, WSJ)

Team Obama is suffering from Extended Campaign Syndrome. In an election, campaign staffers are often just trying to survive until the next week or the next primary. They cut corners because they are fatigued or under pressure.They can be purposely combative and even portray critics as enemies.

Carrying this mindset into the White House can get you into trouble, a lesson the Obama administration is now learning the hard way. [...]

Much of the Democratic response to critics has been inappropriate or unpresidential. Take the reaction to the town-hall meetings taking place across the country. Many people are worried about their health care and a few are responding in unacceptable ways. But Democrats are portraying the opposition as an "angry mob" using, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wrote in a USA Today op-ed, "un-American" tactics. Mr. Obama's "Organizing for America," a political group founded by the president to mobilize supporters, dismisses critics as tools of "insurance companies . . . stirring up fear with false rumors," without presenting a shred of evidence to back up the charge.

The White House may actually welcome this process fight if it is more interested in the state of mind of 60 Democratic senators and 256 Democratic House members than in what the public at large is thinking. It seems to believe attacking critics will reassure nervous members of Congress. The sideshow also distracts attention from the substance of Mr. Obama's plans, which is what is really hurting him.

For example, many small businesspeople are starting to figure out that under ObamaCare it will be cheaper to pay a penalty equal to 8% of payroll than to continue covering their employees' health insurance. How will people feel about Mr. Obama's claim that everyone can keep their existing coverage when their employer tells them it makes better economic sense to dump them into the government-run option than to keep paying for private insurance?

He doesn't want to be president, just to have been president. Looks good at the top of the resume.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2009 6:30 AM
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