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Why Did Obama Ignore Omar? Krusty to Cable Talk?

Jul15

ABC – Always Believe Calbuzz: Now that even Harry Reid publicly complains that Barack Obama fears confrontation and is too willing to play kissy-poo with Republicans, we regretfully recall that the president blundered badly last year, by ignoring four prescient words of advice we humbly offered: Channel your inner Omar.

With Democratic prospects for the mid-term election swirling down the drain, and the Administration engaged in an embarrassing public fight with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the party’s chances of keeping control of the Congress, Senate Majority Leader Reid recently pointed his finger squarely at the White House to explain the dreadful dire straits in which his party finds itself:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid critiqued President Obama’s “peacemaker” approach to policy-making and suggested he embrace a tougher posture toward Republicans in an exclusive interview with Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston during the congressional recess.

“On a few occasions, I think he should have been more firm with those on the other side of the aisle,” Reid explained. “He is a person who doesn’t like confrontation. He’s a peacemaker. And sometimes I think you have to be a little more forceful. And sometimes I don’t think he is enough with the Republicans.”

Ya’ think?

Yet, a full nine months ago this space, upon observing troubling signs of presidential faintheartedness, threw a flag at his craven performance in the heat of the health care battle, and urgently recommended he review the collected wisdom of one Omar Little, the extraordinary character whom Obama had repeatedly identified as his favorite cast member in “The Wire,” the greatest television series ever made.

From liberal West Coast precincts to the op-ed pages of the New York Times, Obama’s base is pointedly questioning the stiffness of his political spine and the strength of his personal convictions:

Those Obama fans who are disappointed keep looking for explanations. Is he too impressed by the elite he met in Cambridge, too eager to split the difference between left and right, too willing to compromise? As he pursues legislation, why does he keep deferring to others — whether to his party’s Congressional leaders or the Congressional Budget Office or to this month’s acting president, Olympia Snowe? Why doesn’t he ever draw a line in the sand? What’s with all this squishy need for a “bipartisan solution?”

This state of affairs poses a serious risk to Democrats in the 2010 mid-term elections and to Obama’s second term prospects as well.

Ahem.

While it may already be too late, if you buy John Dickerson’s persuasive argument that Americans have already stopped listening to the president, it’s worth reprising at least one of the nine profound Omarisms we suggested Obama take to heart:

“The game’s out there and it’s play or get played.”

Omar’s definition of how things work on the streets is useful advice for the president: From his first day in office, Obama extended his hand in the name of bipartisanship, only to be bitch-slapped by Republicans for his trouble.

It’s way past time for him to start channeling his inner Harry Truman and expose the just-say-no GOP crowd as the know-nothing obstructionists they are. His mealy-mouthed appeasement of a tyrannical minority, who get up every morning thinking about how to destroy and delegitimize him is not  “change we can believe in” but a simple case of political weakness.

The trouble with Jerry: With 1,126 paid staff members, Meg Whitman’s communications shop has a lot of time to sit around and do silly busywork, like its regular series of eblasts called “Yup, Jerry Brown said it,” which mock whatever Krusty’s latest foot-in-mouth comment may be, picked up by Team eMeg’s statewide network of Big Brother electronic listening devices.

On Tuesday, they snarked at something Attorney General Gandolf said about Whitman on radio in San Diego: “She in many ways is more the incumbent than I am.”

It’s an offbeat comment, to be sure, but not for the reason that the Empire of eMeg thinks.

As a political matter, viewing Whitman as the incumbent in the governor’s race is actually an interesting take: her over-the-top spending, the ubiquity of her ads, her multi-channel, overbearing non-stop marketing blitz all have positioned her so Brown might frame the election as a referendum about her, casting himself as the foil to all-Meg-all-the-time.

Interesting thought, interesting point. The problem for Brown, however, is that he’s talking like he’s a political analyst, not a candidate; since the day after the primary, most of what he’s said has been focused on the process of the campaign – Meg’s money, Meg’s ads, his cheapskate approach to the race – not on anything that voters might actually care about, or what affects their lives.

There are few people more interesting to talk or listen to about the business of politics than Jerry Brown, but this ain’t a rolling seminar in campaign methodology.

What’s he most sorely lacking in his campaign is any sign of a narrative, a political meme about, oh say, the state of the state, why he wants to be governor, why voting for him will help the middle class, why and how we must fix the schools, things like that.

Until he starts discussing bread and butter issues like building the economy, helping people who are in foreclosure, growing jobs, re-prioritizing the state budget or reclaiming the UC system, everything else he’s talking about is just a tryout for Hardball or the John King show.

On the other hand, Calbuzz recognizes that the Brown campaign makes a point when they note that in the 35 days since the start of the general election:

While Attorney General Jerry Brown has done 26 public appearances or media interviews [mostly as Attorney General], Meg Whitman has done nine. While Brown has taken the tough questions about the race and the future of California, Whitman refuses to talk. While Brown has accepted 10 debate invitations from nonpartisan groups around the state,Whitman will agree to only one in October.

In case you missed it: Why Sarah Palin is a complete ditz, Chapter 686: She can’t even make it through an interview with Bill O’Reilly without making a fool of herself. Sheesh.


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There is one comment for this post

  1. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    Reid has a lot of nerve. The man has caved more times than the Carlsbad Caverns.

    Between Obama and Reid, Nancy Pelosi is the better man. I’m just saying.

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