The longest days of summer are proving to be even longer days for Obama. His approval ratings are mired in the mid 40s, primaries herald losses for Democrats and the Gulf Oil spill is turning out to be more slippery for Obama than BP. All in all, Obama is failing both Alinsky and Michael Dukakis and the Democrats are headed toward losing the House.
In 2009, Obama chose confrontational politics. He appointed Rahm Emanuel, known more for his hard ball tactics than his diplomacy, for his Chief of Staff. Out of the gate, he pushed through a “stimulus” bill along partisan lines instead of seeking a bi-partisan solution, i.e. a mixture of tax cuts, regulatory relief and federal spending in lieu of pure deficit spending. Obama then proceeded to push Cap and Trade and Health Care – again along strictly partisan lines. In doing so, his administration spoke more than disparagingly of those opposing his policies. To many, Obama was outright demonizing his opponents much like Saul Alinksy would advocate.
As the calendar turned onward, and the economy predictably failed to turn upward, the Democrats and the Obama Administration received the shock of a Kennedy lifetime when the otherwise barely known Scott Brown pulled off a stunning victory by taking the “Kennedy seat” away from the Democrats and giving it back to the people. Unbowed by such political tea leaves, and warnings from prognosticators, Obama pushed the Health Care Bill through along partisan lines and with the promise that people will be able to keep their existing health care. Now nearly 60% of Americans want that bill repealed and that is before the emerging stories about not being able to keep their existing health care, based on the regulations being written, have begun to take hold.
Then came the Gulf Oil spill. At first, Obama nearly ignored the emerging problem. Since then, he “sued” BP and alternatively claimed he was in control but that there was nothing he could really do. It is rather known, at this point however, that he could have easily waived the Jones Act to allow non-union remediation efforts and he could have accepted foreign help that would have reduced to scope of the spill. So bad is his performance that even his most staunch supporters on the far Left have questioned his ability to command.
All of which bring us back to Alinksy and Dukakis.
Alinksy’s methodology is meant for an insurgency and is dependent on ideological confrontation. It is not one that fares well with half measures. Yet over the last year Obama has drawn derision on the Left for being able to achieve only half measures even though the Democrats control the House, the Senate and the White House.
As for Dukakis, he famously campaigned for the Presidency asserting that that election was about “competency not ideology.” While the Country never had to endure Dukakis’ brand of competency back in the late 1980s, they have seen Obama’s failures first hand.
The Presidency, however, is not about an insurgency, it is about building consensus. It is also non-ideological to the extent that it requires its Commander in Chief to effectively deal to crises and day-today problems – competently. Obama is demonstrating his lack of experience and ability along with his lack of historical understanding and ability to learn about the Presidency. In the final analysis, likely to be made this fall and in 2012, it is those failures that will define Obama and the Democrats.