rack Obama is antsy. His aides can see it when he alights from Air Force One from the all-too-occasional campaign trips he has taken this fall. There’s a sigh, an unhappy-camper body language when he finds himself back in the depressing slipstream of Ebola confabs and national-security-crisis-of-the-day meetings. The vibe, according to people in his orbit, is not so much of being checked out as of being fed up.Oh, isn't that just too bad. The guy has lived so long without having to suffer the ordinary challenges to his popularity surround by idolatrous aides and media. And now he's floated down to earth and it's not fun anymore.
“[I] do like campaigning. ... It’s fun,” Obama said on Thursday, speaking wistfully at a rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud in Maine. But the Michaud event was the exception, not the rule. “There have been $2 billion in ads shitting on the president and no one to defend him,” a senior administration official told us. “He is very fired up to get this campaign behind him, to run through the tape.”
Obama, for so long the man with the bright future, has hated being relegated to a sidelined pariah in the midterms—even if it is the inevitable lot of a second-termer with approval ratings hovering in the low 40s—according to a dozen current and former Obama advisers we spoke with in recent days. He both resents the narrative that he’s basically irrelevant and doesn’t much relish the fact that many of his longest-serving staffers, the remnant core of his once-buzzing and brash White House, are strapping themselves to ejector seats. More than anything, Obama’s loathing for Washington, an attitude that reads as ennui to outsiders, has hardened into a sullen resignation at being trapped in a broken system he failed to change, advisers told us.
“I sense a certain fatalism there, and it’s disturbing,” says a former adviser on Obama’s campaign who, like many others we talked with for this story, requested anonymity. “There’s a sense that ‘I’ve tried everything, and look where it got me.’ People misread it as disengagement. It’s frustration. But who cares? It’s a bad mind-set.” Another Obama veteran adds, “the bully pulpit is gone, maybe forever.”
Having to explain that there is some previously unnoticed difference between clowns and clown cars is not what you want to be spending the last day before the election doing.
So this is what liberals are resorting to - arguing that it's all the Constitution's fault that we have such unappealing politics. David Schanzer, a professor of public policy at Duke and a student, Jay Sullivan, have a column in the NYT today arguing that our real problem is that we have midterm elections in the first place.
The main impact of the midterm election in the modern era has been to weaken the president, the only government official (other than the powerless vice president) elected by the entire nation. Since the end of World War II, the president’s party has on average lost 25 seats in the House and about 4 in the Senate as a result of the midterms. This is a bipartisan phenomenon — Democratic presidents have lost an average of 31 House seats and between 4 to 5 Senate seats in midterms; Republican presidents have lost 20 and 3 seats, respectively.The Founding Fathers were just so misguided in trying to devise a system that would give voters opportunities to weigh in on what our representatives do. They created a system that checks the power of the president and Congress. But there is that progressive strain among liberals who find the Constitution a pesky detail interfering with their desires to expand government power. And gridlock is frustrating that desire. So let's take the people out of it because we wouldn't want to have politicians have to worry about what their constituents might think of what they do.
The realities of the modern election cycle are that we spend almost two years selecting a president with a well-developed agenda, but then, less than two years after the inauguration, the midterm election cripples that same president’s ability to advance that agenda.
Midterms have not been meaningless in the past. Think of the changes resulting from 1994, 2006, and 2010 that saw power shift from one party to another. Under the system proposed by Schanzer and Sullivanwould have left the public frustrated and unable to express their dismay at the current leadership. Peter Suderman at Reason Magazine sums up the underlying weakness in their argument.
Basically, their complaint is that the midterms reinforce the notion that the president’s agenda is not the only one that matters, allow the public a chance to express their opinion about that agenda by voting at the midpoint of a presidential term, and that Congress has significant power to shape, slow, or even block that agenda through the legislative process (and might even respond with an agenda or agendas of its own).Exactly.
This strikes me as a better case for the midterms than one against it.
James Taranto has fun ridiculing the whole argument.“There was a time when midterm elections made sense,” they concede, and they don’t mean 2006 but “at our nation’s founding.” Then, “it was important for at least one body of Congress to be closely accountable to the people.” But things are different now: “Especially at a time when Americans’ confidence in the ability of their government to address pressing concerns is at a record low, two-year House terms no longer make any sense.”
Surely you can relate. Suppose your boss loses confidence in you. The last thing you’d want is for him to hold you accountable! Well, politicians are people, too. They don’t like being judged any more than you do. Thus the inexorable conclusion: “ We should get rid of federal midterm elections entirely.”
This is not a vote of confidence.
A new survey finds that 51 percent of people who used the government-run Obamacare health insurance exchanges in the past year say they will not to do so again when open enrollment resumes Nov. 15.And here is some more evidence that Obamacare is deepening the deficit.
Just 43 percent of people who used HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace, or a state-run exchange plan on using such an exchange to shop for 2015 insurance plans, the Bankrate.com survey found.
Ed Morrissey links to a shocking story from the Arizona Republic that the White House pressured the Inspector General for the VA to water down a report on the VA scandal.
It is really striking how the networks aren't all that interested in covering election night results. ABC is having intensive coverage...on the internet. Maybe on misremembering past midterm election years, but it seems to me that the networks usually had full coverage of election results. Of course, I guess this shouldn't be a big surprise, given how little the networks covered this election at all compared to how eager they were to report on the midterms in 2006 when Republicans were losing.
James O'Keefe's latest Protect Veritas undercover video demonstrates how easy it is for someone or some group to commit massive voter fraud. First he accessed North Carolina's online voter rolls to find the list of inactive voters in the state. There are, apparently, around 700,000 such voters who have either moved or just stopped voting. Then they narrowed the list down to people who were 30-year old males. Then James O'Keefe traveled around to early-voter sites and asked if they had such a person with that name on their voter rolls and if he could vote. Each time he was offered a ballot and could have voted. It's rather amazing how easy it was for him to do that. All he needed was the name and address of such missing voters.
“Of all of the undercover investigations I’ve conducted, this was by far the easiest. They were willing to pass out fraudulently obtained ballots like it was Halloween candy,” said James O’Keefe. “With almost three-quarters-of-a-million inactive voters and no Voter ID law in place, we could have turned the election results for most major candidates in the state. What we uncovered in this video illustrates how easy it would be for a well-orchestrated campaign with no regard for the law to change the outcome of a major election. Voter laws across the country need to be changed immediately to prevent this sort of potential voter fraud.”By the way, I recognized my early voting site in one of the clips. The video shows him traveling around the state in a white bus and I could swear that I saw that bus one day because I remember thinking how odd it was to have an all white bus with no markings at all on it.
CNN calls out the worst of the worst in political ads this season and selects an ad by Alison Lundergan Grimes and Wendy Davis's wheelchair ad.
David Drucker interviews the always perceptive Sean Trende.