The Obama administration has been scolding left critics left, right, and center for criticizing them. It is hard to believe that the Obama folks actually think that this talk will motivate disgruntled Democratic base voters. If so, they would have to be among the stupidest politicians ever to enter Washington.
Jane Hamsher has an alternative explanation. The attacks have nothing to do with increasing voter turnout. Rather, they are a cynical ploy to create a scapegoat other than the administration for the electoral losses expected this November. Hamsher demonstrates a long-standing pattern of the administration screwing the candidates they support with leaks designed to deflect blame away from Obama. Here is one of many examples:
January 17, 2009: Martha Coakley — Two days before the Massachusetts election, from Ed Henry, CNN:
Sources: Obama advisers believe Coakley will lose
Multiple advisers to President Obama have privately told party officials that they believe Democrat Martha Coakley is going to lose Tuesday’s special election to fill the Massachusetts Senate seat held by the late Ted Kennedy for more than 40 years, several Democratic sources told CNN Sunday.
The sources added that the advisers are still hopeful that Obama’s visit to Massachusetts on Sunday – coupled with a late push by Democratic activists – could help Coakley pull out a narrow victory in an increasingly tight race against Republican state Sen. Scott Brown.
However, the presidential advisers have grown increasingly pessimistic in the last three days about Coakley’s chances after a series of missteps by the candidate, sources said.
So here’s how this theory applies to the current drivel out of the White House:
But this is a clear pattern with the Obama White House. Insulating the President from blame for electoral losses is paramount, even at the risk of triggering the loss. Setting up the narrative, pre-election, that the campaign was doomed anyway and there was nothing Obama could do to save it was considered more important.
So when people scratch their heads and wonder how a campaign based on hectoring the “professional left” expects to turn out voters, the answer is, it doesn’t. And you don’t see anyone who’s actually running for office this November engaging in it. They well know that your job is to inspire and energize voters in advance of the election. Obama did too — when he was running for office himself.
But now that he’s not running, and it’s someone else’s butt on the line, he’s turning the Democratic base into Martha Coakley and setting them up for the blame for any electoral failure in fall. The people who showed up to vote for him in 2008 “just weren’t serious” if they “now want to take their ball and go home.”
There is no internal consistency to the narrative that the “professional left” is suppressing turnout by criticizing Obama, but Obama is not suppressing turnout when he scolds the voters who aren’t clapping loudly enough for his achievements. But few in the professional punditocracy find their way to that obvious conclusion.
This isn’t about GOTV. It’s about setting up a fall guy for November. The headline should really read:
Obama Distances Himself From Democratic Voters
Democratic voters are all Martha Coakley now. And if shielding Obama from blame makes matters worse for those who are actually running in November? Well, that’s the price of protecting the President.
This explanation makes sense. Oddly, it also helps understand Obama’s horrific about faces on human rights. Nothing matters, but Obama. Everything and everyone else is disposeable.
At this stage, it’s only a hypothesis. But it is a hypothesis that makes sense of a lot of confusing data from the last 18 months.
September 28th, 2010