Why there is no Clinton-like comeback in the cards for Obama

The Democrats lost 54 House seats in 1994, yet President Clinton went on to win re-election two years later. Thomas Del Beccaro at Big Government argues that while Obama is likely to suffer huge mid-term losses similar to Clinton’s, he lacks all the specific qualities that allowed Clinton to recover from that disaster and win a second term. By showing, point by point, what Obama is not (he’s not Clinton), Del Beccaro shows what Obama is.

A commenter at Big Government jokes: “Maybe Barry needs to have an affair? That may be the only thing to coalesce his party back around him … ?”

Why Obama Will Be Clinton Without The Comeback
by Thomas Del Beccaro

The retirement of Evan Bayh is the latest heralding of difficult 2010 election year for the Democrats. It is also a symptom of Obama’s mid 40s approval rating. Smart Democrats know that the average midterm election year losses for the President’s party, when his approval rating is below 50%, is 41 seats in the House. Three Presidents in the modern era suffered such a fate—Johnson, Ford and Bill Clinton. Of those three, only Clinton went on to win a second term. While it is likely Obama will suffer huge mid-term losses, it is more than unlikely that he will enjoy Clinton’s revival.

Clinton suffered the loss of 54 House seats in his first midterm election, despite a growing economy, because he broke his middle class tax cut promise—and the Republicans were smart enough to unanimously oppose that and run on the Contract With America. Despite the loss of the House for the first time in 40 years, Clinton won reelection.

Clinton was able to win reelection in part because Bob Dole was not an effective candidate for the Republicans on the tax issue. Clinton also famously triangulated in 1995 and 1996 with the help of longtime strategist Dick Morris. Dropping ideology for practicality, in 1995 and 1996, Clinton pushed a national campaign to prevent teen pregnancy, issued an order clarifying the rights of religious expression in schools, supported uniforms for public schools, banned human cloning, signed Megan’s law and welfare reform to name a few less than ideological triangulations. Even before that, Clinton incurred the wrath of unions by pushing the ratification of NAFTA.

Of course, as the Governor of a swing state, Bill Clinton leaned an early lesson in pragmatism after he was defeated in his bid for a second term. After apologizing for the policies that led to his reelection defeat, he regained the governorship and went on to enact mandatory competency testing for teachers and granted tax breaks to businesses—again with triangulating guru Dick Morris by his side.

Clinton’s revivals, especially at the Presidential level, can be directly tied to the fact (1) that he had executive experience, (2) that he dealt with the need to build consensus out of division, (3) that he had advisors pushing him to do that, AND (4) that he was smart enough to have such advisors and to listen to them.

Obama, quite frankly, has none of that going for him.

First, Obama has had no executive experience and has never worked in setting which required consensus building. That is because Senators don’t have to govern and community organizers preach to their own. That inexperience is now showing in spades. As I wrote in my article, How Many Fights Will Obama Pick With America, Obama’s first strategy was divisive not consensus building. His deficit exploding Stimulus Package, Cap and Trade, Health Care and Civil Terror trial initiatives are and remain ideologically based and unsuccessful. Beyond that, President Obama’s agenda is being whipsawed by Congresswoman Pelosi. Simply stated, an effective, experienced chief executive never would let a member of congress control his fate to this degree.

As for his advisors, the radical ties of his Czars are well documented and David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel are no Dick Morris. Indeed, notwithstanding the loss of the Kennedy seat (as Democrats view it), Obama’s budget belies any claim to moderation as does his continued push for health care, cap and trade and now tax hikes. Beyond that, Obama has already lost control of the jobs bill and Nancy and Harry are committed to legislating from the Left—a big factor in Bayh’s retirement. Dick Morris never would have let that occurred—apparently Axelrod and Emanuel either don’t understand that or can’t prevent it.

In sum, we have met Barack Obama, we now know Barack Obama and he is no Bill Clinton. Let’s just hope Republicans recall the lessons of 1994 even Obama can’t.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 16, 2010 11:56 AM | Send

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