Full speed ahead, Mr. President

Mike Allen at Politico reports that, according to White House staffers, President Obama “plans a combative response if, as White House aides fear, Democrats lose Tuesday’s special Senate election in Massachusetts.” Allen explains that “the health care backdrop has given the White House a strong incentive to strike a defiant posture, at least rhetorically, in response to what would be an undeniable embarrassment for the president and his party.”
Accordingly, says Allen (quoting a presidential adviser), the response will not be “to do incremental things and try to salvage a few seats in the fall.” Instead, Obama will “go out and fight and let the chips fall where they may.” That way the White House can say “at least we fought for these things, and the Republicans said no.'”
The problem is, it’s no longer just Republicans who are saying no; voters, and in particular independent ones, are now sending that message as well. And it is the fact that Democrats have been so inattentive, and have reacted so high-handedly, to this message that is driving voters to turn against Democrats like Martha Coakley and the various incumbents (including Obama himself to some degree) who have seen their favorability ratings tank.
Obama probably believes it’s the economy, rather than his steadfast leftism, that lies at the heart of his problems. I’m as much of an economic determinist as most in these matters. But the degree of voter disgust, after only one year, with a party that was not in power when the economy tanked cannot be explained simply through economics.
Indeed, the state of the economy is not at the center of Scott Brown’s speeches; he stresses instead his independence, in other words his ability, if elected, to check Obama and the congressional Dems. This message is processed, to be sure, in the context of the economy. But if the economy were the main point, Brown would be talking more persistently and explicity about it.
Even so, if Obama wishes to proceed full speed ahead and brand Republicans as the only thing that stands in his way, I certainly won’t complain.

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