Commentary Magazine


Topic: Pat Caddell

The Chronically Unserious Dana Milbank

Fox News has an unparalleled capacity to cause liberal journalists to say really stupid things. Take the case of the chronically unserious Dana Milbank. (Who can forget this moment?) In his Washington Post column, Milbank opens things this way:

John Boehner, Haley Barbour and other Republican leaders held a “results watch” at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington. For a true victory party, you had to go to Fox News.

At Rupert Murdoch’s cable network, the entity that birthed and nurtured the Tea Party movement, Election Day was the culmination of two years of hard work to bring down Barack Obama – and it was time for an on-air celebration of a job well done.

“That’s an earthquake,” exulted Fox’s own Sarah Palin, upon learning the not-unexpected news that Republicans would gain control of the House. “It’s a big darn deal.”

“It’s a comeuppance,” Fox News contributor (and Post columnist) Charles Krauthammer contributed.

“I have one word,” said Sean Hannity. “Historic.”

And Chris Wallace struggled for words. “A gigantic – not a wave election but a tidal wave election,” he envisioned.

This cheerleading on the final day of the 2010 election cycle was to be expected.

It was to be expected, and for a simple reason: what the commentators and reporters on Fox said is indisputable. Even President Obama, himself, referred to the results of the 2010 midterm election as a “shellacking.” And also Milbank’s former Washington Post colleague Howard Kurtz and Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin of Politico used the word “bloodbath” to describe the election. So were Obama, Kurtz, Smith, and Martin “cheerleading” as well? So long as they don’t appear on Fox, the answer seems to be no.

Milbank decided to compound his tendentiousness by willfully misleading readers. Mr. Milbank writes:

The victory party would have to focus on the 60-seat gain Fox projected for Republicans in the House – an enormous win, though not at the upper end of the forecasts. Fox commentator Karl Rove, pleading for “perspective,” said it still qualified as a “blowout evening.” To be fair and balanced, Fox brought in a nominal Democrat, pollster Doug Schoen. “This is a complete repudiation of the Democratic Party,” he proclaimed.

So which Democrats does Milbank leave off this list? How about Bob Beckel, Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers, Geraldo Ferraro, Joe Trippi, and Pat Caddell? Why would Milbank neglect to name any of these individuals? Because it would run counter to the narrative he’s trying to advance. Thomas Huxley referred to such things as “the slaying of a beautiful deduction by an ugly fact.”

The Washington Post publishes some of the finest columnists who have ever graced the pages of an American newspaper. But it also, alas, publishes Dana Milbank.

Fox News has an unparalleled capacity to cause liberal journalists to say really stupid things. Take the case of the chronically unserious Dana Milbank. (Who can forget this moment?) In his Washington Post column, Milbank opens things this way:

John Boehner, Haley Barbour and other Republican leaders held a “results watch” at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Washington. For a true victory party, you had to go to Fox News.

At Rupert Murdoch’s cable network, the entity that birthed and nurtured the Tea Party movement, Election Day was the culmination of two years of hard work to bring down Barack Obama – and it was time for an on-air celebration of a job well done.

“That’s an earthquake,” exulted Fox’s own Sarah Palin, upon learning the not-unexpected news that Republicans would gain control of the House. “It’s a big darn deal.”

“It’s a comeuppance,” Fox News contributor (and Post columnist) Charles Krauthammer contributed.

“I have one word,” said Sean Hannity. “Historic.”

And Chris Wallace struggled for words. “A gigantic – not a wave election but a tidal wave election,” he envisioned.

This cheerleading on the final day of the 2010 election cycle was to be expected.

It was to be expected, and for a simple reason: what the commentators and reporters on Fox said is indisputable. Even President Obama, himself, referred to the results of the 2010 midterm election as a “shellacking.” And also Milbank’s former Washington Post colleague Howard Kurtz and Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin of Politico used the word “bloodbath” to describe the election. So were Obama, Kurtz, Smith, and Martin “cheerleading” as well? So long as they don’t appear on Fox, the answer seems to be no.

Milbank decided to compound his tendentiousness by willfully misleading readers. Mr. Milbank writes:

The victory party would have to focus on the 60-seat gain Fox projected for Republicans in the House – an enormous win, though not at the upper end of the forecasts. Fox commentator Karl Rove, pleading for “perspective,” said it still qualified as a “blowout evening.” To be fair and balanced, Fox brought in a nominal Democrat, pollster Doug Schoen. “This is a complete repudiation of the Democratic Party,” he proclaimed.

So which Democrats does Milbank leave off this list? How about Bob Beckel, Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers, Geraldo Ferraro, Joe Trippi, and Pat Caddell? Why would Milbank neglect to name any of these individuals? Because it would run counter to the narrative he’s trying to advance. Thomas Huxley referred to such things as “the slaying of a beautiful deduction by an ugly fact.”

The Washington Post publishes some of the finest columnists who have ever graced the pages of an American newspaper. But it also, alas, publishes Dana Milbank.

Read Less

Caddell Isn’t Waiting for Election Day

Pat Caddell is one mad Democrat:

Veteran Democratic operative Pat Caddell is unloading on the White House, saying he’s had enough with the president whose “hypocrisy” on campaign finance “is just mind-blowing.” …

“My problem with Obama started the day he blew up public financing of presidential campaigns,” Caddell said in an interview with The Daily Caller. “He’s the man whose done the most to destroy whatever integrity there was in campaign financing.”

He’s none too enamored with the Chamber of Commerce gambit, either:

The administration’s attacks, Caddell said, on groups like the Chamber of Commerce and donors like the conservative Koch brothers reek of McCarthyism. “I was the youngest person on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. I take this stuff seriously. What they’re doing is Nixonian – it’s McCarthyite,” he said.

Caddell, who has worked for a number of presidential campaigns, including Joe Biden’s in 1988, said making outside money an election issue is a risky strategy for the Democrats. “You’re 21 days out from an election and this is what you’ve got? That’s it? Nothing about jobs or the economy?”

Yeah, that’s all they’ve got. Caddell’s assessment of the Obama staff is accurate as far as it goes:

These are naive idiots who’ve come out of academia and have never done anything real in their lives, and they are actually in power,” he said. “These are the people we never let in the room when we had serious business to do. Now they’re running the country.”

Actually, the biggest problem is not the staff. The one who came out of academia and who had not done much that was “real” (other than write books about himself and get elected) before coming to the White House is Obama. That’s who has been leading the McCarthy-like attacks. That’s who’s got nothing to offer on the economy and jobs. Granted, Obama is surrounded by political hacks who lack real-world experience, but he put them there, and he’s shown himself to be sorely lacking in know-how and judgment when it comes to everything from the Middle East to “shovel-ready” jobs.

The Democrats’ finger-pointing and recriminations are only getting started. (Reminds me of the McCain campaign, which started blaming Sarah Palin before the election.) There will be plenty of blame to go around. But ultimately, Obama is head of his party as well as president. The upcoming electoral debacle will be his.

Pat Caddell is one mad Democrat:

Veteran Democratic operative Pat Caddell is unloading on the White House, saying he’s had enough with the president whose “hypocrisy” on campaign finance “is just mind-blowing.” …

“My problem with Obama started the day he blew up public financing of presidential campaigns,” Caddell said in an interview with The Daily Caller. “He’s the man whose done the most to destroy whatever integrity there was in campaign financing.”

He’s none too enamored with the Chamber of Commerce gambit, either:

The administration’s attacks, Caddell said, on groups like the Chamber of Commerce and donors like the conservative Koch brothers reek of McCarthyism. “I was the youngest person on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. I take this stuff seriously. What they’re doing is Nixonian – it’s McCarthyite,” he said.

Caddell, who has worked for a number of presidential campaigns, including Joe Biden’s in 1988, said making outside money an election issue is a risky strategy for the Democrats. “You’re 21 days out from an election and this is what you’ve got? That’s it? Nothing about jobs or the economy?”

Yeah, that’s all they’ve got. Caddell’s assessment of the Obama staff is accurate as far as it goes:

These are naive idiots who’ve come out of academia and have never done anything real in their lives, and they are actually in power,” he said. “These are the people we never let in the room when we had serious business to do. Now they’re running the country.”

Actually, the biggest problem is not the staff. The one who came out of academia and who had not done much that was “real” (other than write books about himself and get elected) before coming to the White House is Obama. That’s who has been leading the McCarthy-like attacks. That’s who’s got nothing to offer on the economy and jobs. Granted, Obama is surrounded by political hacks who lack real-world experience, but he put them there, and he’s shown himself to be sorely lacking in know-how and judgment when it comes to everything from the Middle East to “shovel-ready” jobs.

The Democrats’ finger-pointing and recriminations are only getting started. (Reminds me of the McCain campaign, which started blaming Sarah Palin before the election.) There will be plenty of blame to go around. But ultimately, Obama is head of his party as well as president. The upcoming electoral debacle will be his.

Read Less

Pat Caddell’s Devastating Critique

In a fascinating interview with Robert Costa, Democratic pollster and analyst Pat Caddell zeroes in on the Democrats’ impending doom (“the general outcome is baked”) and on Obama’s failure to live up to expectations (“The killer in American politics is disappointment. When you are elected on expectations, and you fail to meet them, your decline steepens”). But his most cogent analysis focuses on Obama’s base. He writes:

The people who own the party — George Soros, the Center for American Progress, the public-employee union bosses, rich folks flying private jets to “ideas festivals” in Aspen — they’re Obama’s base.

Yowser. He omitted only the liberal media, but I suppose they too — along with young people, old people, Hispanics, working- and middle-class whites, and even 42 percent of Jews — have grown disillusioned as well.

It is debatable whether the puny base is the result of Obama’s extreme agenda or the reason it is so extreme. If you believe the former, Obama has traveled so far left that he’s lost virtually everyone else in the Democratic coalition and turned off independents as well. But if you follow Caddell’s implication (that this is the group that “owns” the party), Obama takes these steps because that’s what his core constituency wants. Why persist in supporting the repeal of the Bush tax cuts? These groups wouldn’t accept anything less. Why install controversial figures by recess appointment (e.g. Craig Becker, Donald Berwick)? Well, these are the sorts of appointees that give his “base” reassurance. Why continue to push climate change regulation and anti-business legislation in the midst of a recession? You got it — give the base what it wants.

Both phenomena are likely at work. Obama is inclined to go left. He thereby withers his base, increasing the clout of these slivers of the electorate. And he feels compelled to keep them happy, given that his political standing is so fragile.

Obama now is truly in a tough spot, one of his own making, I will grant you. Does he reposition to try to recapture his lost supporters, or stick with the grab bag of interest groups that encourage his most destructive inclinations? Hard to say. At this point, I would wager that not even Obama or his closest advisers have figured out what to do.

In a fascinating interview with Robert Costa, Democratic pollster and analyst Pat Caddell zeroes in on the Democrats’ impending doom (“the general outcome is baked”) and on Obama’s failure to live up to expectations (“The killer in American politics is disappointment. When you are elected on expectations, and you fail to meet them, your decline steepens”). But his most cogent analysis focuses on Obama’s base. He writes:

The people who own the party — George Soros, the Center for American Progress, the public-employee union bosses, rich folks flying private jets to “ideas festivals” in Aspen — they’re Obama’s base.

Yowser. He omitted only the liberal media, but I suppose they too — along with young people, old people, Hispanics, working- and middle-class whites, and even 42 percent of Jews — have grown disillusioned as well.

It is debatable whether the puny base is the result of Obama’s extreme agenda or the reason it is so extreme. If you believe the former, Obama has traveled so far left that he’s lost virtually everyone else in the Democratic coalition and turned off independents as well. But if you follow Caddell’s implication (that this is the group that “owns” the party), Obama takes these steps because that’s what his core constituency wants. Why persist in supporting the repeal of the Bush tax cuts? These groups wouldn’t accept anything less. Why install controversial figures by recess appointment (e.g. Craig Becker, Donald Berwick)? Well, these are the sorts of appointees that give his “base” reassurance. Why continue to push climate change regulation and anti-business legislation in the midst of a recession? You got it — give the base what it wants.

Both phenomena are likely at work. Obama is inclined to go left. He thereby withers his base, increasing the clout of these slivers of the electorate. And he feels compelled to keep them happy, given that his political standing is so fragile.

Obama now is truly in a tough spot, one of his own making, I will grant you. Does he reposition to try to recapture his lost supporters, or stick with the grab bag of interest groups that encourage his most destructive inclinations? Hard to say. At this point, I would wager that not even Obama or his closest advisers have figured out what to do.

Read Less

Time for a Uniter, Not a Divider

Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, two Democratic pollsters and consultants, repeatedly have tried to warn their fellow Democrats that they are blowing it — going too far left, passing legislation disliked by the public, and ignoring the issues voters care about most. Now they’re going after Obama for his excessive divisiveness: “Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.”

On race, there was Gatesgate and then the New Black Panther Party scandal. As to the latter, they explain:

On an issue that has gotten much less attention, but is potentially just as divisive, the Justice Department has pointedly refused to prosecute three members of the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation at the polls on Election Day 2008.

It is the job of the Department of Justice to protect all American voters from voter discrimination and voter intimidation—whether committed by the far right, the far left, or the New Black Panthers. It is unacceptable for the Department of Justice to continue to stonewall on this issue.

No, the case is not “small potatoes’ — it goes to the heart of Obama’s promise to be post-racial and to the essence of what “equal protection” means.

It’s not just racial antagonisms that Obama has exacerbated. As Caddell and Schoen observe, no president in recent memory has played the class-warfare card and maligned private industry as much as Obama. (“He bashes Wall Street and insurance companies whenever convenient to advance his programs, yet he has been eager to accept campaign contributions and negotiate with these very same banks and corporations behind closed doors in order to advance his political agenda.”)

But it is on partisanship that Obama has really excelled. The sneering disrespect for political opponents, the refusal to engage in any genuine give-and-take with the GOP, and his obnoxious vilification of his predecessor have distinguished this White House as the most politically vindictive and obsessive (going even so far as to put political hacks in the center of foreign policy formulation) since Richard Nixon’s.

This is not just a disappointment to his starry-eyed supporters; it’s also politically disastrous for Obama. He’s managed to alienate the great swath of independent voters for whom all this is deeply troubling, if not frightening. The public may be ready for a post-post-partisan and post-post-racial president. Maybe someone who can offer hope and change from the old-style politics of personal destruction.

Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, two Democratic pollsters and consultants, repeatedly have tried to warn their fellow Democrats that they are blowing it — going too far left, passing legislation disliked by the public, and ignoring the issues voters care about most. Now they’re going after Obama for his excessive divisiveness: “Rather than being a unifier, Mr. Obama has divided America on the basis of race, class and partisanship. Moreover, his cynical approach to governance has encouraged his allies to pursue a similar strategy of racially divisive politics on his behalf.”

On race, there was Gatesgate and then the New Black Panther Party scandal. As to the latter, they explain:

On an issue that has gotten much less attention, but is potentially just as divisive, the Justice Department has pointedly refused to prosecute three members of the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation at the polls on Election Day 2008.

It is the job of the Department of Justice to protect all American voters from voter discrimination and voter intimidation—whether committed by the far right, the far left, or the New Black Panthers. It is unacceptable for the Department of Justice to continue to stonewall on this issue.

No, the case is not “small potatoes’ — it goes to the heart of Obama’s promise to be post-racial and to the essence of what “equal protection” means.

It’s not just racial antagonisms that Obama has exacerbated. As Caddell and Schoen observe, no president in recent memory has played the class-warfare card and maligned private industry as much as Obama. (“He bashes Wall Street and insurance companies whenever convenient to advance his programs, yet he has been eager to accept campaign contributions and negotiate with these very same banks and corporations behind closed doors in order to advance his political agenda.”)

But it is on partisanship that Obama has really excelled. The sneering disrespect for political opponents, the refusal to engage in any genuine give-and-take with the GOP, and his obnoxious vilification of his predecessor have distinguished this White House as the most politically vindictive and obsessive (going even so far as to put political hacks in the center of foreign policy formulation) since Richard Nixon’s.

This is not just a disappointment to his starry-eyed supporters; it’s also politically disastrous for Obama. He’s managed to alienate the great swath of independent voters for whom all this is deeply troubling, if not frightening. The public may be ready for a post-post-partisan and post-post-racial president. Maybe someone who can offer hope and change from the old-style politics of personal destruction.

Read Less

Is It a Little Late for That?

Democratic consultants and pollsters Douglas Schoen and Pat Caddell are back trying to save the Democrats from themselves. No one listened before to their pleas. But perhaps the polling slide Obama and his party have suffered since they passed ObamaCare against the wishes of the voters will convince them to consider the duo’s warnings. In short, the two advise Democrats to be more like the Tea Partiers. They explain:

To turn a corner, Democrats need to start embracing an agenda that speaks to the broad concerns of the American electorate. It should be somewhat familiar: It is the agenda that is driving the Tea Party movement and one that has the capacity to motivate a broadly based segment of the electorate. …

The swing voters, who are key to the fate of the Democratic Party, care most about three things: reigniting the economy, reducing the deficit and creating jobs.

These voters are outraged by the seeming indifference of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, whom they believe wasted a year on health-care reform. These voters will not tolerate more diversion from their pressing economic concerns.

So what can Obama and the Democrats do now? On this the pair are less clear, for of course a great deal of the damage has been done. For one thing, stop “working systematically to protect the interests of public-sector employees and organized labor — by offering specific benefits such as pension protection and tax reductions at the expense of all taxpayers.” But again, it may be too late for that. Well, they could “adopt an agenda aimed at reducing the debt, with an emphasis on tax cuts, while implementing carefully crafted initiatives to stimulate and encourage job creation.” In other words, do what the Republicans want to. But is that happening? No.

Sometimes there comes a point in an election cycle where it’s just too late to reverse course, when the voters have already made up their minds and a party has already established a track record. In 2006, by the time the Mark Foley scandal hit, voters were going to dump the Republicans no matter what. In the fall of 2008, when the financial collapse hit, John McCain’s fate was sealed. This time around, the degree of the thumping is still to be decided, and better candidates may wiggle out of the fate of their colleagues. But the notion that Democrats can suddenly escape the wrath of voters by doing everything they didn’t do for over a year seems, well, silly.

Democratic consultants and pollsters Douglas Schoen and Pat Caddell are back trying to save the Democrats from themselves. No one listened before to their pleas. But perhaps the polling slide Obama and his party have suffered since they passed ObamaCare against the wishes of the voters will convince them to consider the duo’s warnings. In short, the two advise Democrats to be more like the Tea Partiers. They explain:

To turn a corner, Democrats need to start embracing an agenda that speaks to the broad concerns of the American electorate. It should be somewhat familiar: It is the agenda that is driving the Tea Party movement and one that has the capacity to motivate a broadly based segment of the electorate. …

The swing voters, who are key to the fate of the Democratic Party, care most about three things: reigniting the economy, reducing the deficit and creating jobs.

These voters are outraged by the seeming indifference of the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, whom they believe wasted a year on health-care reform. These voters will not tolerate more diversion from their pressing economic concerns.

So what can Obama and the Democrats do now? On this the pair are less clear, for of course a great deal of the damage has been done. For one thing, stop “working systematically to protect the interests of public-sector employees and organized labor — by offering specific benefits such as pension protection and tax reductions at the expense of all taxpayers.” But again, it may be too late for that. Well, they could “adopt an agenda aimed at reducing the debt, with an emphasis on tax cuts, while implementing carefully crafted initiatives to stimulate and encourage job creation.” In other words, do what the Republicans want to. But is that happening? No.

Sometimes there comes a point in an election cycle where it’s just too late to reverse course, when the voters have already made up their minds and a party has already established a track record. In 2006, by the time the Mark Foley scandal hit, voters were going to dump the Republicans no matter what. In the fall of 2008, when the financial collapse hit, John McCain’s fate was sealed. This time around, the degree of the thumping is still to be decided, and better candidates may wiggle out of the fate of their colleagues. But the notion that Democrats can suddenly escape the wrath of voters by doing everything they didn’t do for over a year seems, well, silly.

Read Less

It’s the Contempt

Democrats Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen try to sound the warning on ObamaCare:

Their blind persistence in the face of reality threatens to turn this political march of folly into an electoral rout in November. In the wake of the stinging loss in Massachusetts, there was a moment when the president and Democratic leadership seemed to realize the reality of the health-care situation. Yet like some seductive siren of Greek mythology, the lure of health-care reform has arisen again.

Quite simply, Obama has lost, they observe, the public-opinion battle: “If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate’s reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.”

The polls are wrong or the voters are dolts or they will learn to love it. We’ve heard some variation of each of these excuses over the past year. Perhaps Obama and the Democrats are in denial. But I think it’s more properly seen as contempt. They simply don’t care what voters think, for they know best. That’s the entire premise of ObamaCare. Voters who may be young and healthy can’t be trusted to decide to self-insure or buy cheap, high-deductible plans. Employers can’t be trusted to balance health care, salary, and other employee benefits in deciding how to compensate their employees. Consumers can’t be trusted to shop around from state to state or select the exact sort of plan they need; the government will set “minimum” standards (which include every procedure politicians deem necessary).

So should we be surprised that Democratic politicians are intent on doing this, knowing full well voters don’t want them to? Voters sense when they’re being denigrated, and the results, should ObamaCare pass, will be severe. (“Voters are hardly enthralled with the GOP, but the Democrats are pursuing policies that are out of step with the way ordinary Americans think and feel about politics and government. Barring some change of approach, they will be punished severely at the polls.”) But there’s still time for individual House Democrats to prevent the incineration of their own careers and their party’s fortunes. All they need to do is go home for the recess and ask voters if this is what they want. At each and every turn — three key elections, the August recess, constant polling — the voters have given the same answer. Now the only thing that remains is to see if Nancy Pelosi’s members share her disdain for what their constituents think.

Democrats Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen try to sound the warning on ObamaCare:

Their blind persistence in the face of reality threatens to turn this political march of folly into an electoral rout in November. In the wake of the stinging loss in Massachusetts, there was a moment when the president and Democratic leadership seemed to realize the reality of the health-care situation. Yet like some seductive siren of Greek mythology, the lure of health-care reform has arisen again.

Quite simply, Obama has lost, they observe, the public-opinion battle: “If it fails, as appears possible, Democrats will face the brunt of the electorate’s reaction. If it passes, however, Democrats will face a far greater calamitous reaction at the polls. Wishing, praying or pretending will not change these outcomes.”

The polls are wrong or the voters are dolts or they will learn to love it. We’ve heard some variation of each of these excuses over the past year. Perhaps Obama and the Democrats are in denial. But I think it’s more properly seen as contempt. They simply don’t care what voters think, for they know best. That’s the entire premise of ObamaCare. Voters who may be young and healthy can’t be trusted to decide to self-insure or buy cheap, high-deductible plans. Employers can’t be trusted to balance health care, salary, and other employee benefits in deciding how to compensate their employees. Consumers can’t be trusted to shop around from state to state or select the exact sort of plan they need; the government will set “minimum” standards (which include every procedure politicians deem necessary).

So should we be surprised that Democratic politicians are intent on doing this, knowing full well voters don’t want them to? Voters sense when they’re being denigrated, and the results, should ObamaCare pass, will be severe. (“Voters are hardly enthralled with the GOP, but the Democrats are pursuing policies that are out of step with the way ordinary Americans think and feel about politics and government. Barring some change of approach, they will be punished severely at the polls.”) But there’s still time for individual House Democrats to prevent the incineration of their own careers and their party’s fortunes. All they need to do is go home for the recess and ask voters if this is what they want. At each and every turn — three key elections, the August recess, constant polling — the voters have given the same answer. Now the only thing that remains is to see if Nancy Pelosi’s members share her disdain for what their constituents think.

Read Less

The Perils of Ignoring Bad News

Two Democratic pollsters and consultants, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, take to the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages to decry the attack by the Obami and their supporters on Fox News and pollsters including Gallup and Rasmussen. They call out the vendetta against Fox, Robert Gibbs’s shot at Gallup, and the avalanche of criticism by liberal spinners as “political intimidation”:

The attacks on Rasmussen and Gallup follow an effort by the White House to wage war on Fox News and to brand it, as former White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn did, as “not a real news organization.” The move backfired; in time, other news organizations rallied around Fox News. But the message was clear: criticize the White House at your peril. … Mr. Gibbs’s comments and the recent attempts by the Democratic left to muzzle Scott Rasmussen reflect a disturbing trend in our politics: a tendency to try to stifle legitimate feedback about political concerns—particularly if the feedback is negative to the incumbent administration.

It’s not only unseemly and revealing of a prickly, defensive, and arrogant administration; it has, I think, contributed to the constant state of shock in which the Obami constantly find themselves. Who knew Van Jones was a problem? How could anyone see a 20-point thumping coming in the Virginia gubernatorial race and a loss in very Blue New Jersey? How could the tea-party protesters catch on? How could Massachusetts be competitive? They always seem a step behind the news and the last to recognize their flagging political fortunes.

That arguably flows directly from indifference and hostility to bad news. If one considers only MSNBC and the New York Times, you can miss a lot of news and many a warning sign that the public isn’t with you. And conversely, the refusal to engage the opposition in meaningful ways (rather than simply deride critics as illegitimate if not downright “un-American,” as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi tagged the town-hall attendees) has left the policy battleground to the other side. Conservatives say ObamaCare cuts Medicare, unwisely raises taxes in a recession, and will lead to rationed care. The Obami say: Shut up. You can see why they may be losing the argument.

Caddell and Schoen deserve credit for raising the red flag. But as Democrats, they do so not for purely altruistic reasons. They know, even if the White House doesn’t, that putting your fingers in your ears and humming is no way to govern.

Two Democratic pollsters and consultants, Pat Caddell and Douglas Schoen, take to the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages to decry the attack by the Obami and their supporters on Fox News and pollsters including Gallup and Rasmussen. They call out the vendetta against Fox, Robert Gibbs’s shot at Gallup, and the avalanche of criticism by liberal spinners as “political intimidation”:

The attacks on Rasmussen and Gallup follow an effort by the White House to wage war on Fox News and to brand it, as former White House Director of Communications Anita Dunn did, as “not a real news organization.” The move backfired; in time, other news organizations rallied around Fox News. But the message was clear: criticize the White House at your peril. … Mr. Gibbs’s comments and the recent attempts by the Democratic left to muzzle Scott Rasmussen reflect a disturbing trend in our politics: a tendency to try to stifle legitimate feedback about political concerns—particularly if the feedback is negative to the incumbent administration.

It’s not only unseemly and revealing of a prickly, defensive, and arrogant administration; it has, I think, contributed to the constant state of shock in which the Obami constantly find themselves. Who knew Van Jones was a problem? How could anyone see a 20-point thumping coming in the Virginia gubernatorial race and a loss in very Blue New Jersey? How could the tea-party protesters catch on? How could Massachusetts be competitive? They always seem a step behind the news and the last to recognize their flagging political fortunes.

That arguably flows directly from indifference and hostility to bad news. If one considers only MSNBC and the New York Times, you can miss a lot of news and many a warning sign that the public isn’t with you. And conversely, the refusal to engage the opposition in meaningful ways (rather than simply deride critics as illegitimate if not downright “un-American,” as Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi tagged the town-hall attendees) has left the policy battleground to the other side. Conservatives say ObamaCare cuts Medicare, unwisely raises taxes in a recession, and will lead to rationed care. The Obami say: Shut up. You can see why they may be losing the argument.

Caddell and Schoen deserve credit for raising the red flag. But as Democrats, they do so not for purely altruistic reasons. They know, even if the White House doesn’t, that putting your fingers in your ears and humming is no way to govern.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.