“He’s being criticized for being too disengaged, for not caring,” the 42nd president said of Obama. “So he needs to turn into it. I may be one of the few people that think it’s not bad that that lady said she was getting tired of defending him. He needs to hear it. You need to hear.” … “So I just tell him to sort of try to get the country up again without being-looking-naïve or la-la, but be optimistic about our future. Embrace people’s anger, including their disappointment at you. And just ask ’em to not let the anger cloud their judgment. Let it concentrate their judgment. And then make your case.” Bill Clinton offers formula for Barack Obama success

“They always like you better when you’re gone…” Pres. Clinton hitting the nerve of all nerves in his interview with Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour. The question of the midterms for Democrats is this: What are we going to do now? For voters the question is: Who’s likely to do it? Nobody can knock out an election challenge better than Bill.

Meanwhile, inside the White House bubble, when you’re main adversary doesn’t fit “the choice” equation, it puts you in a rough spot. Obama saying this election is about “the choice,” choosing to look backwards to Bush, missing what voters are feeling, especially the Tea Party contingent, by a mile. From his email today:

In the coming weeks, Americans will make a critical choice. Do we continue moving our country forward? Or do we bring back the very same ideas that devastated the middle class and resulted in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression?

The continued return to the past won’t cut it, because the Tea Party contingent doesn’t want to go back either. They began in the Bush era of over spending, so the angriest core voters won’t be reached by Obama’s “the choice” gambit, with Independents wanting to hear decisive next move plans on the economy. Democrats have been missing this message for quite some time now.

Segue to yesterday. As Tuesday goes in the Senate, it was butt ugly.

Sen. John McCain offered himself up as the unwitting poster child.

“Regulations are we do not go out and seek to find out someone’s sexual orientation,” McCain asserted flatly. “I know the military very well and I know what’s being done, and what is being done is that they’re not seeking out people who are gay. And I don’t care what you say. I know it’s a fact. I don’t care what you say.” – Raw Story

However, it was watching the Democrats go down with 56 votes to 43 that was the unsightly spectacle, especially since we’re talking just to bring legislation to the floor. Sen. Levin’s statement on filibuster reform an I’ll Believe It When I See It moment. That it came at the expense of soldiers fighting, dying and sacrificing for this country is a political embarrassment for both parties. It’s why Democrats and Republican are seen as worthless. Democrats really needing the win, instead Republicans got one that revved their base up further. Of course, Pres. Obama has the power to change this dynamic by signing an Executive Order, but who’s taking bets on that one?

It got worse today.

Six months since its signing into law, Politico has a weird little story about Pres. Obama asking religious leaders to “get out there and spread the word” about the Democratic health care law. One of the reasons for this is because many Democratic lawmakers feel vulnerable talking about it this close to midterms; with the news that insurers are going to stop selling “child only” policies leaving the Administration on its heels. (As a side note, this is the same thing that women feel will eventually happen to abortion coverage, in this case the market simply being too small to offer.) There’s just too much about the health care law that makes likely voters squeamish or that they absolutely hate. That’s because the Democrats put a law together that only went far enough to leave the implementation vulnerable, with the benefits unknown, while making sure private insurance companies get loads of new customers who don’t have any options, with help to buy plans not cutting it.

Tomorrow Republicans will drive this reality home when a group of conservatives unveil their thin “Pledge to America,” which is to focus on extending tax cuts for the wealthy, but especially “repeal and replace” the health care law, though that won’t be possible, stripping funding the most effective tool, causing its effectiveness and full implementation to be jeopardized.

Likely voters haven’t begun to pay attention so there’s time, but the signs so far are ominous.

When you hear Democrats talking about midterms there isn’t a single one of them who is giving specifics on how they will take what’s been started and improve on it. No next steps to be taken on how the Democrats will make the economy better, jobs more secure, not even a promise of better legislation that will further help make lives better. All I’m hearing so far is stale word salads of trust us because you don’t want to go back.

So, right now it’s Obama’s “the choice” versus the conservatives’ “Pledge to America.” Both lame ass offerings an illustration of why the Tea Party movement rose up in the first place.

As Pres. Clinton said to Judy Woodruff, if the election is about the voter’s anger or apathy, Democrats will lose. On the Right, anger has already won. On the Left, the anemic health care law, coupled with the DADT loss, makes apathy stronger.

Republicans and Tea Party activists are mad at Democrats. Unfortunately, many Democrats are mad at their own. So unless Obama can make the election about more than “the choice,” which set up as he’s offering is a false narrative, once voters tune in they’ll tune Democrats out.

Democrats have to answer why they deserve another chance, another two years. So far they haven’t, but there is still time.

This post has been updated.