So far, Obama isn’t learning anything from Massachusetts. And he’s certainly not going to do anything differently. At least that’s what they seem to be saying at the White House. The Washington Post reports:
Publicly and privately, aides to the president repeatedly stressed that the White House has heard the message from angry voters. But they insisted that they are not backing away from key items on the president’s agenda, including health-care reform, energy and bank regulation. …
One top adviser insisted that “the White House gets it. We’re not oblivious. We’re not proceeding ahead as if it didn’t happen.”
But the early consensus inside the White House, they said, was to pursue a renewed effort to explain the difficult choices Obama has made. They said that the election results will not force a radical rethinking of his agenda and that the White House will attempt to convince Americans that his policies on the economy and jobs will eventually turn things around.
Okay, that’s gibberish. He doesn’t get it. Like an American tourist overseas, he’s just going to say it slower and louder so the local rubes will finally understand. Massachusetts voters elected the guy who ran as the 41st vote against ObamaCare. Obama is going to push for ObamaCare. In what political universe does that constitute “getting it”?
You can imagine how Democrats must feel. Their party just lost the “safest” Senate seat in the country, independents are fleeing, and the other side has a grassroots movement dedicated to opposing ObamaCare. And the president refuses to budge. What to do? For now, they must resort to background quotes to the Post to try to influence the Obami:
One senior Democratic strategist said that in conversations he had with party leaders, there seemed to be an unwillingness on the part of the White House to acknowledge the party’s new problem with independent voters, who were key to Obama’s victory. ”Democrats on the Hill and in the White House don’t seem to get that independent voters are upset with them,” said the source, who spoke candidly about the president and his team on the condition of anonymity.
Perhaps by the State of the Union, Obama will get through the first step in his recovery program: admitting he has a problem. If not, he’ll go before the country and sound like he’s in a hermetically sealed bubble of political spin, oblivious even to voters in a state more sympathetic than most to his political philosophy. If he pulls the “What me worried?” routine and pushes full steam ahead with a repudiated health-care plan, the public will most likely regard him as irrelevant. Many in his party will conclude he’s a menace to their re-election prospects. But maybe he’ll wise up. He’s got a few days to think this through.