It’s not just conservatives who found Obama’s speech confounding and can’t quite figure out the political logic in doubling down on a losing agenda. The Associated Press finds lots of grumbling on the Democratic side of the aisle:
Based on roughly two dozen interviews with lawmakers, party leaders and political operatives nationwide, it’s clear that many Democrats feel Obama hasn’t fully embraced his role as party chief. It has them questioning the strength of his political muscle and faulting his advisers for paying too little attention to the fast-approaching 2010 midterm contests. Some of these Democrats complained on the record. Others asked for anonymity to avoid angering Obama and his team. Altogether, they described an ineffective political operation. They suggested Obama’s team is overly focused on his likely 2012 re-election bid. And they blamed the White House for a muddled message about what he’s trying and accomplishing as president.
It’s hard to quibble with that, isn’t it? Obama doesn’t want to be seen “walking away” from health-care reform. It might make him look weak, inept, and unaccomplished. But he has no real game plan for rescuing himself or his fellow Democrats from the morass in which they find themselves. Instead, he throws down the gauntlet, tells them to work some more, and leaves them to the mercy of angry voters, two-thirds of whom hate the bill. You can understand why Democrats are upset.
Mary Landrieu is one of the Democrats who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the president these days:
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said health care reform “is on life support, unfortunately,” and the president should have been more specific with how Democrats should move forward. “He should have been more clear, and I am hoping that in the next week or two he will because that is what it is going to take if it is at all possible to get it done,” Landrieu told reporters. “Mailing in general suggestions, sending them over the transom, is not necessarily going to work.” The president’s criticism of the Senate in the speech was ‘a little strange, a little odd,” Landrieu said.
Odd, but not entirely inexplicable. Obama is willing to throw members of Congress overboard. They’ve now figured that out and are putting up a fight. The next few months will become increasingly tense, I suspect, as Democrats race to protect themselves and attempt to put distance between themselves and a president whose popularity is fading and whose agenda is toxic.