There is no rocket science in these numbers.
The Democrats take a tumble in June and July as the NSA controversy breaks, continue downwards as the Syria debate starts full swing in August and September…
And then Ted Cruz saves the bacon of Obama and the Democrats by trying to drive the US economy off a cliff.
Good ol’ Ted Cruz – I’ll have to send him a thank you card.
Of course, now that the Crazy Caucus has been foiled in their plans to shutter the government, we’ll have to go back to dealing with the other threat to the reform agenda, which comes from the Left and not the Right. The President never successfully answered his critics – he never provided workable arrangements with the non-crazy ones, like Senators Wyden, T. Udall, M. Udall, Merkley, Leahy, Sanders, etc.; likewise, he never provided a strong narrative to counter the narrative of the crazy ones, for whom destroying government, regardless of whether it helps people, remains an ideological prime directive.
That still needs to be done, otherwise the advantage Ted Cruz and his hardy band of lemmings have provided the Democrats will not be put to any good purpose.
President Obama, when speaking privately, has apparently commented that he is concerned that the American people are paying attention to “noise” rather than a real issue when the NSA is the topic of discussion. I agree, but the polls indicate he has to show people that’s true. Part of the problem is that the President is too good-natured to confront “liberaltarians” because they are part of his base. Of course, one cardinal rule of Loozyanna politics, as I learned my seven years in New Orleans, is to dance with who brung ya. But as we also learned in 2010, liberaltarians didn’t bring Obama anywhere – they were the ones who decided to sit on their hands rather than save the US from the Republican House of Representatives that has just finished another round of poisoning American politics. Obama loses _nothing_ by confronting their narrative outright. They’re already going to stay at home and let the Republicans return for more of the same. But Obama can do something to restore the Democratic vote elsewhere, and that will require making his case to that part of the public about where he really stands regarding the NSA.
Where Syria is concerned, the problem is not that people are paying attention to “noise”, of course. Whether to get involved, and in what capacity, in Syria is a real issue rather than a phony one. Here, the issue is not working out a strategy to deal with noise, but rather to deal with naïveté – wanting peace with Assad is not enough to make peace magically happen. We found that out when the President’s sabre-rattling produced…guess what…real negotiations and what thus far appears to be partial disarmament by the Syrian government. Assad eats pacifists for breakfast, but peace talks have a real chance if we scare the guy silly. Obama needs to get people to see that – rather than encourage their brainless prattle about warmongering, drones and the President’s alleged “security state”.
One of the problems is that Obama takes the teabag Right seriously, since it controls the House of Representatives, because it’s in government (however “anti-government” it may claim to be); however, the firebag Left he doesn’t take seriously at all – it controls no part of the government, and for the most part has caused him no real difficulty. But the NSA and Syria shows that this is changing, and he needs to respond.
It would be great if he could find a way to challenge firebaggers as effectively as he just dispatched the teabaggers. But in order to do that, Obama can’t be so dismissive about the power they possess, which is far more real than he has thus far credited.
The NSA controversy can be dealt with by means of two responses: (1) insisting that there is a terrorism problem that needs solving and intelligence gathering is part of that; and (2) declassifying as much as possible about successful foilings of terrorist plots, giving as much publicity as possible to how intelligence gathering made this possible. If Obama can’t do this, the liberaltarians will continue to successfully kick his ass, and all the gains bequeathed by the idiocies of Ted Cruz will be lost.
The Syria debate, which will return, can similarly be dealt with by means of two responses: (1) highlighting the role played by US tough talk and threatened response in getting Assad’s government to partially disarm and to take peace initiatives more seriously; and (2) insisting that, even if the US ends any intervention role in Syria, it cannot betray the more than 2 million refugees that are fleeing the madness that currently reigns in Syria.
The onus has to be on the firebaggers to respond to the questions “Well, how are _you_ going to stop terrorism?” and “Well, how are _you_ going to save people from Assad?” As long as the firebaggers can avoid talking about that, any reform potential left in the Obama Administration will be hamstrung by constantly having to deal with their anti-government obstructionism, which is every bit as potent as that of the Tea Party.
It’s more potent, in fact, because the firebaggers don’t have activists as dumb as Ted Cruz.