“Labor is looking to make the bill better,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said after the meeting. … …Another labor official warned that while labor leaders will very likely grudgingly support the legislation, some may be bitter enough to sit out the midterm elections, dealing a blow to Democrats.
That Mr. Axelrod is joining Gibbs in spewing “insane” nonsense illustrates the White House’s desperation as the year ends. Not exactly where they began, now is it. That’s how badly they’ve screwed up this year.
Segue to Afghanistan…
On Afghanistan, where most Democrats disagree, especially Obama’s base, the public is behind the President, according to the latest polling. Of course, I support Obama’s plans for nation building, though no one in the Administration dares be that honest about what we’re doing. That said, I’m against the troop increase, which no expert I’ve talked to thinks will matter. I’m also truly puzzled why Pres. Obama and Sect. Clinton continue to emphasize, if secondarily, democracy in places like Afghanistan. It’s a fool’s errand. In fact, Clinton got some flak last week on her human rights Georgetown speech, as she trumpeted Pres. Obama’s strong commitment to human rights, particularly in Afghanistan, one of the main reasons why we fight. Some saying she didn’t stress democracy enough. Using the word democracy and Afghanistan in any context is ludicrous.
Dr. Zbig on “Morning Joe” this week explained perfectly a possible way through and it isn’t Sen. Levin’s idea of a national militia. After hearing Levin at the Rand event in the famous and beautiful Caucus Room, I agreed with him up to a point, but hit a wall every time I envisioned anything in Afghanistan on a national level. It’s nonsense, as they have never operated that way, so our efforts won’t change that embedded history. Zbig explained that we must not only pay the local Afghans more than the Taliban, to keep them from uniting, but also to protect their own territory, but encourage Afghan militias to stand up for their local jurisdictions. It was the Soviet Union who began the dismantling of organic Afghan society, with the vacuum left after they withdrew, helped along by Ronald Wilson Reagan (and Bill Casey’s war), causing mass chaos and an opportunity for Al Qaeda to grow. But Bush-Cheney’s warlord strategy made matters worse, destroying the tribe fabric further. By empowering local Afghans to police their own territory, while giving them the means to do so, aka money, with our troops as backup, we might find a way through this. Though as Obama said on “60 Minutes,” we are there for the long haul, something I’ve known for a very long time (see podcast for full story). It gets down to what we’re doing and trying to accomplish. But democratizing Afghanistan? It’s laughable. Where democracies already exist, we can support, but our military engagement must be left for clear and present danger situations in strategic regions that impact us directly, though extraordinary humanitarian crises should also draw our attention and action, but not knee jerk “send in the troops” mentality, only if international involvement is also present. Deluding ourselves about democratizing Afghanistan is 20th century thinking that leads to a dark abyss. See George W. Bush and Iraq.
Back to Obama’s poll numbers as the year ends. From the Wall Street Journal:
The biggest worry for Democrats is that the findings could set the stage for gains by Republican candidates in next year’s elections. Support from independents for the president and his party continues to dwindle. In addition, voters intending to back Republicans expressed far more interest in the 2010 races than those planning to vote for Democrats, illustrating how disappointment on the left over attempts by party leaders to compromise on health care and other issues is damping enthusiasm among core party voters.
But public displeasure with Democrats wasn’t translating directly into warmth for Republicans. [...]
…And in one arena, Afghanistan, Mr. Obama appeared to have some success in winning support for his planned troop surge. Liberals remain largely opposed to the strategy, but in fewer numbers compared with before Mr. Obama made his case in a speech at West Point. Overall, by 44% to 41%, a plurality believe his strategy is the right approach.
Still, the survey paints a decidedly gloomy picture for Democrats, who appear to be bearing the brunt of public unease as unemployment has risen from 7.6% to 10% since Mr. Obama took office. Just 35% of voters said they felt positively about the Democratic Party, a 14-point slide since February. Ten percent felt “very positive.”
I’m just wondering how you stand on Obama and the Democrats, thinking beyond the health care debacle. Or can you even separate that right now?
The American people are well beyond the health care debate, pushing it off of their table entirely, as Democrats have taken way too long, revealed way too much of the sausage making, if you will, while voters are struggling to make Christmas merry with less.
With Bernanke now getting a nod, including as Time magazine’s man of the year, it once again illuminates the one thing Democrats have been missing all year in the combustible dynamic. How people feel about the economy and j-o-b-s. It’s a major reason Obama’s in a rush over health care all of a sudden. But after a year of neglecting the subject, the election year push may be too late, as is this. It also happens to be the one opening for Republicans, with Mitt Romney gnashing his teeth to jump in.