About Last Night

There are some cracks appearing in the formidable Obama coalition that swamped John McCain in 2008. In spite of McCain’s underwhelming performance by garnering two million fewer votes than George Bush received in 2004, it can’t be denied that President Obama and David Axelrod ran an enormously effective campaign that seems to have maxed out support from traditional constituencies as well as marginal (fence sitting) groups that could fall in the undecided category. However, in the first 100 days (which seem like one hundred years) the President has served up a menu that has alienated certain elements in his political base. Don’t let last night’s lovefest fool you.

Among the hot button issues that are causing heartburn in President Obama’s historic coalition are:

1) Funding for war spending. David Obey (D-WI) complains:

“I am extremely dubious about the ability of the administration to achieve its ends in that operation” Obey said.

While Pelosi later rescinded the conditions, Obi’s outburst underscored the discontent among anti-war lawmakers who championed Obama’s candidacy because of his pledge to bring the troops home.

They don’t quite feel betrayed — but they are beginning to feel unappreciated.

2) A reluctance to pursue criminal prosecution for Enhance Interrogation Techniques. John Conyers (D-MI) laments:

At a White House meeting late last month, Obama discouraged inquisitions into Bush-era interrogation practices, telling Democratic leaders it would be counterproductive. But they aren’t listening.

“He’s got a right to his opinion,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mitch., who will soon convene hearings into the subject — hearings he hopes will spur Obama to act.

3) Obama has raised the class warfare flag so conspicuously that his own wealthy supporters see it as damaging to the economy:

Wealthy Wall Street financiers and other business figures provided crucial support for Mr Obama during the election, backing him over the Republican candidate John McCain as the right leader to rescue the collapsing US economy.

But it is now dawning on many among them that Mr Obama was serious about his campaign trail promises to bring root and branch reform to corporate America – and that they were more than just election rhetoric.

A top Obama fundraiser and hedge fund manager said: “I’m appalled at the anti-Wall Street rhetoric. It was OK on the campaign but now it’s the real world. I’m surprised that Obama is turning out to be so left-wing. He’s a real class warrior.” ( Hint for hedge fund guy: read the small print)

….Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, a free enterprise think tank, said Democrats in Congress were unnerved by the president’s latest plan to raise $210 billion over 10 years from multinational corporations.

As the nation emerges from the effects of the 24/7 Obama campaign message machine and begins to cast a critical eye on the president’s rhetoric and how it compares to actual policy a pattern is beginning to emerge. Many of Candidate Obama’s supporters from late 2007 and early 2008 are beginning to identify some defining differences that otherwise should have been highlighted by a discerning press in a vigorously covered primary contest. In short, Candidate Obama is being seen as far less radical than President Obama. In a period of record job losses, loss of family savings and a still uncertain national security outlook Americans are much less inclined to adopt a radical ideology that emphasisizes higher taxes, record budget deficits, national security witch hunts ostensibly designed to prosecute those that protect and political cronyism.

Much has been made from the right about the degree of favoritism shown by this country’s legacy media to the Obama administration. Indeed, the President joked about it last night at the White House Corresponce Association dinner:

I’d like to welcome you all to the ten-day anniversary of my first one hundred days. I’m Barack Obama. Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.

(emphasis mine)

There is no amount of political cover the president can now receive from a compromised and unethical legacy media to mask the effect of his policies. Voters are going “local”, to borrow Tip O’Neill’s phrase, and beginning to examine their own core issues in judging President Obama. The bizarre coalition of class warriors, war protestors, “war crime” prosecutorial opportunists and Wall Street financiers cannot and will not be held together. President Obama’s success or failure will be decided by any number of issues touching on foreign policy, national security and the economy. However, if the economy does not obtain susbstantial positive growth without real inflation by the first quarter of 2010 this president will become a one term wonder of historic proportions.

Any of the abovementioned three factors would give a president serious pause, but the economy is and will always be the linchpin (pay attention to that term, Detroit) of political success. As James Carville famously remarked in the 1992 race:

” You mean to tell me that this whole election is about the f#*”ing bond market?”

Uh, yes, it is.

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