Sunday, February 21, 2010

Okay, I'm going to try and be done with caring about what the wingnuts think. As Roger Ebert put it recently (about resentment and caring about what others think of you), it's like "allowing someone to live rent-free in a room in your head."

Instead, I'll try and provide some analysis. The 2010 midterms look to be a classic one in longstanding patterns for a first term President. The opposition party is likely to pick up seats. But it doesn't appear to me that it's going to be a realignment like 1994 or 2006, if (and only if) Obama can fight the real enemy. The real enemy is not anger--the vitriol out there now is from those who didn't vote for him in the first place, the same people whose basest instincts were thrown out in the open with Palin's tacit encouragement lining up in the last days for their rallies, examples of which we've all seen on YouTube. But, rather, disappointment, especially from folks on the left, not necessarily the independent voters--this latter group will have to do with who's running in what district. As we saw in Massachusetts, Scott Brown probably won because Coakley was a really bad candidate who took the race for granted. The real enemy is disappointment, and disappointment leads to low turnout among former supporters.

To combat that disappointment, Obama needs to give 'em some red meat, and I think that explains the current tactical moves. First is to call for the bipartisan summit on Health Care, to call out the Repubs who said they wanted to be "consulted." Obama's calling their bluff, and it looks like they may be taking the bait (we'll only come if the cameras are off and you hit the "reset button" and "start with a blank piece of paper"). I think this will play into his hands. And secondly, when they do take the bait, Obama (and hopefully the Dems, particularly the Senate Dems up for re-election) will then sack up and push for a reconciliation bill.

He needs to push for more of this, show that the Repugs are being insincere, that they're simply hoping to be unified in an obstructionist strategy until November. If he can do that, he'll at least get liberal Dems out in greater numbers to try and stem the inevitable tide.

As for 2012? I look to the CPAC (wingnut) Convention straw polls that just came out for a clue. And I'm reminded about how bad Clinton looked in 1994-1995. Folks thought he was a goner. The inevitable polls would come out asking questions like "would you vote to re-elect the President or someone else." And of course, when asked that way, people are always gonna vote for someone else if they're unhappy with the current direction.

But who?

And here's where the straw poll comes in. Ron Paul wins, with Romney at second, and Sarah Palin a distant third (at least). Not exactly a strong field. So Obama has to like where he sits there. There could be a dark horse, but will it be someone who can unify the libertarians with the evangelicals? If Paul ends up showing as strong as he has, look to a potential third party candidate scenario a-la Ross Perot, and we all know how that ended up.

If Obama doesn't give red meat to the libs (like reconciliation) and continues to trumpet pragmatism over all else, then we could be looking at the possibility of a stronger third party candidacy on the greener side of things, as it were. But this is less likely. Even Nader only got 4% and that was against Gore, who didn't exactly wow 'em in the 2000 campaign.

UPDATED: I should add that the "red meat" in this case should be grass fed, free range.

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