Mike Lillis over at The Hill is up today with a piece on communications troubles between the House Democrats and the President’s team (h/t Conservative Wanderer), which has started me to wondering if we’re beginning to see the formation of a Red wave, at least of minor proportions, come November. The story itself is nothing new. To some extent, Congressional Democrats have felt marginalized by the President during his entire tenure in office. Normally, both the administration and their partisans in Congress tend to work together toward common goals, each playing off the other. The analogy used in the article is a quarterback and his offensive line:
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) likened the relationship between presidents and their Capitol Hill allies to that between quarterbacks and the offensive linemen charged with protecting them. Some quarterbacks, he said, simply manage that alliance better than others.
“Certainly, Bill Clinton saw us as his offensive line, and so he attended to the nurturing of his offensive line,” Moran said. “And I don’t think this president, this quarterback, invests all that much time and effort into the care and feeding of his offensive line.
“You can still win,” Moran added. “It just makes it a little more difficult.”
As I say, to a greater or lesser degree, this relationship has been lacking. This White House is nothing if not secretive and jealous of its prerogatives. Anyone who pays even cursory attention to politics will recall at least several occasions of the President springing some policy position on his partisans which infuriated them: A Social Security change to entice Republicans to do tax reform, changes in the 2008 law regarding unaccompanied minors as border crashers, and much more; and the President always had to beat a hasty retreat in the face of the fury of his partisans. (An honest person would also note the Republicans routinely embraced these overtures, thereby giving the lie to the Republican intransigence meme, but we’re talking Big Media here and it has gone as unreported as is possible for them to manage.) So the communication gap is real, and unusual. I don’t understand why Team O doesn’t see Congressional Democrats as allies myself but, being of a more libertarian frame of mind, I don’t object to it; it’s about the best thing Mr. Obama has done since it has prevented him from making much progress on his agenda.
Some analysis lower in the article, however, is what caught my attention:
Thomas Mann, congressional expert at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution, said the House grumbling has less to do with Obama’s outreach than with the frustrations building among Democrats faced with the likely reality that they’ll remain in the minority after November.
“There’s way, way too much talk and analysis of the relations between the White House and the Congress,” Mann said. “Put a saint up there — bring LBJ and FDR — it’s not going to be any better.”
And this bit from Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ):
Some are predicting the shift in dynamics will happen even sooner. Pascrell noted there would be plenty of pressure on Democrats in battle-ground districts to distance themselves from Obama well ahead the elections.
“You’ll see it in the last two months of the campaign. … You’ll see it before the elections as a campaign tool,” Pascrell said.
“And after the election,” he added, “all hell will break loose.”
This is far from conclusive, of course– heck, there’s nothing conclusive anywhere around politics, everybody’s always guessing. But it makes me wonder if I am seeing straws in the wind. The President’s approval level keeps slipping; the economy keeps not getting any better; international relations keep getting worse; even left-wing outlets like NYT are now predicting a R takeover of the Senate by at least a small probability; all three of the major race trackers have moved at least one Senate race in the red direction during the last month; we’re seeing think pieces on both sides of the aisle– it’s August and the Congress is on vacation, it’s time for them in general– saying Mr. Obama is dragging his partisans down; and now this on top of it.
I have no data, just a feeling. I have been reluctant to predict the outcome in November, and will not do so today. We’re still too far out for the polls to make a lot of sense yet; ask me in a couple more months. But things as they stand do not look good for Team Blue. And they could be very bad. If, as Representative Pascrell predicts, all Hell breaks loose after the elections… why would that happen if the D’s didn’t lose, and badly?