What must they be thinking at the White House? Here's faithful liberal reporter Matt Bai talking it other with some Democratic bigwigs.
Democrats in Washington are divided and somewhat puzzled over President Obama’s fading popularity.
Somehow, they figure, the president failed to communicate his successes! It's all a problem of messaging.
Well, not exactly, says bigwig John Podesta. It's really all because the president has been focusing on big legislative accomplishments, assuming that he would get an "updraft" from an improving economy.
Notice what this delicately tip-toes around. The Obama administration made a choice to push its expensive big-government agenda in 2009 instead of pushing economic recovery. It "assumed" that the economy would revive.
So John Podesta is just beginning to admit, in a veiled manner to soften the blow for New York Times readers, that the Obama administration made the biggest political error of all time, assuming that it was business as usual in the aftermath of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
The administration assumed that it could pile huge new costs upon the private sector without stalling the recovery. We now know that it was wrong. Dead wrong.
Here's another veiled admission from Podesta--on postpartisanship:
[P]art of the president’s significant appeal to voters — “a big part of the secret sauce of getting him elected” — was his promise to transcend perennial partisanship. A more national, outward-looking strategy for creating a “postpartisan” dynamic might have included White House partnerships with Republican governors or even with conservative foundations or industry groups. Because the president effectively boxed himself in to a Capitol-Hill-only strategy, though, he handed the Republican minorities in Congress the power to sabotage his goal. “Once you became a legislative president, which is arguably what you needed to do, you couldn’t deliver on the nonpartisanship promise,” Mr. Podesta said. “And it’s something people wanted.”
You see the misdirection here? What do you mean, John Podesta, "partnerships with Republican governors or even with conservative foundations?" You are trying to suggest that there was no chance that the president could have done a deal with the Republicans in Congress. But this is rubbish. In 2009 the Republicans were ripe for the taking if the president had made a even modest move in their direction. They were extremely reluctant to criticize the president--right until the grass-roots entry into the health care debate during the August town-halls. At any time until August 2009 the president could have picked off a few moderate Republicans with some token compromises to get a bipartisan health bill.
It's interesting to see John Podesta starting to wake up to reality. But he has a problem. He must be careful not to frighten the horses in the street otherwise the base Democrats will get so demoralized that the GOP will pick up 100 seats in the House in November instead of 80.
So he speaks in veiled terms, in nods and winks. If he were a Straussian, we could talk about esoteric talk versus exoteric talk, saying in the same words one thing to the initiated and another to the uninitiated.
But of course, John Podesta is a Democrat, so he can't possibly be a follower of conservative Leo Strauss.