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If Democrats Want to Inspire Voters, They Should Take Their Cues From Candidate Obama

The only thing the president seems to have any passion for these days is lashing out at liberal critics -- not creating jobs, or protecting Social Security, or delivering on any of his campaign promises.
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Jonathan Martin has a very interesting article in Politico this morning about Democrats who are freaked out about the liberal interest groups that aren't showing up for them:

Twice in the past week, House Democrats used closed-door meetings with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to deliver an urgent message: They're being crushed on the airwaves by outside groups, and they need her to do something about it.

In the meetings, according to people present, Democrats cited the nearly unmatched advantage Republicans are enjoying from conservative, third-party organizations. A sympathetic Pelosi vowed to pressure liberal groups to do more -- and quickly.

Democrats are reportedly "fuming about the lack of financial support they're receiving after their members have cast a series of tough votes":

These officials are particulary angered by the relative absence of support from the environmental and pro-health care groups that were so aggressive in lobbying House Democrats to support energy and health care reform legislation.

What are they, f&#@ing r#%^*ed? That was all corporate lobbying money laundered through foundations and funneled through front groups. Those people are writing checks to Karl Rove now.

Jim Jordan says he can't raise money on the left to defend Democrats. "The progressive donor base has stopped writing checks," he explained.

In an not unrelated story:

Really? Fifty-five. Wow. With 258 Democrats in the House, the party who ran on "saving" Social Security in 2006 can only muster 55 now. Maybe that's because the President has empaneled a Catfood Commission whose members keep announcing they will submit a plan to raise the retirement age and cut cost-of-living adjustments shortly after the election, they know full well they'll vote for it and they don't want to look like jackasses.
There was once a candidate named Barack Obama who knew how to whip up enthusiasm and inspire people to vote. Here are a few things he said on the campaign trail:
  • "I will never waver in my commitment to protect that basic promise as President. We will not privatize Social Security, we will not raise the retirement age, and we will save Social Security for future generations by asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share" -- Barack Obama, June 9, 2008, Raleigh NC
  • "Privatizing Social Security was a bad idea when George Bush proposed it, and it's a bad idea today. It would take the one rock-solid, guaranteed part of your retirement income and gamble it on the stock market. That's why I stood with AARP against this plan in the Senate, and that's why I won't stand for it as President. But his campaign has gone even further, suggesting that the best answer to the growing pressures on Social Security might be to cut cost-of-living adjustments or raise the retirement age. I will not do either. There's another option that is fairer to working men and women without putting the burden on those who have already earned it. -- Barack Obama, AARP Life@50+ National Expo, September 6, 2008
  • "I believe that cutting benefits is not the right answer; and that raising the retirement age is not the best option" -- Barack Obama, Meet the Press, 2007

The Obama campaign website used to say "Obama will protect Social Security benefits for current and future beneficiaries alike. And he does not believe it is necessary or fair to hardworking seniors to raise the retirement age." As Peter Bray of Slate noted at the time, it was removed from his website on September 19, 2008:

In 2008, Candidate Obama mocked the very idea of appointing a bipartisan commission to deal with Social Security:

I think we should be honest in presenting our ideas in terms of how we're going to do that and not just say that we're going to form a commission and try to solve the problem some other way.

In 2010, after Congress voted down a bill that would have created such a bipartisan commission, President Obama created the Catfood Commission by Executive Order.

And now Alice Rivlin, the chief wonk President Obama appointed to the Commission, has been running around telling any journalist who will listen that they've got to raise the retirement age and reduce cost-of-living adjustments in order to "strengthen" Social Security. It's no surprise. It's what she's wanted to do for years. You don't appoint her unless that's what you plan to do. He appointed, and continues to back, Catfood commission co-chair Alan Simpson.

And so President Obama can't make the kind of promises that Candidate Obama made on the campaign trail to inspire voters. His speeches about protecting Social Security from the evil Republicans always leave out the details about raising the retirement age or cost of living adjustments. Instead, he says he is "committed to working with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who wants to strengthen Social Security."

Well, here's what Candidate Obama had to say in 2007 about people who who tell you they want to "strengthen Social Security":

Since this is Washington, you won't hear them answer those questions directly when they talk about Social Security. Instead, they use the word "reform" when they mean "privatize," and they use "strengthen" when they really mean "dismantle."

The only thing the President seems to have any passion for these days is not creating jobs, or protecting Social Security, or delivering on any of his campaign promises -- it's lashing out at liberal critics. And anyone looking to place the blame for low Democratic turnout in the fall need look no further than the man at the top. He stole the mantle of progressive reform to get himself elected, and now scorns the people who think being a "progressive" is more than just a bunch of campaign slogans.

If his goal really is to turn out Democratic voters in the fall, President Obama may want to have a word with Candidate Obama. Because that guy knew how to inspire voters, and he never did it by orchestrating an elite hectoring campaign.

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