Sunday, April 21, 2013

When You Lose Maureen Dowd...

Maureen Dowd is right to suggest that President Obama has improved his skill at connecting with the American people. It’s called improving on a natural talent. 

Dowd explains:

THE graying man flashing fury in the Rose Garden on behalf of the Newtown families, the grieving man wiping away tears after speaking at the Boston memorial service, is not the same man who glided into office four years ago.

President Obama has watched the blood-dimmed tide drowning the ceremony of innocence, as Yeats wrote, and he has learned how to emotionally connect with Americans in searing moments…

Now, if only Dowd or her Times editors would learn how not to split infinitives, the world would surely be a better place.

Anyway, we will give Dowd a pass on the split infinitive—“to emotionally connect”—because she offers an astute analysis of Obama’s failure to govern:

Unfortunately, he [President Obama] still has not learned how to govern.

How is it that the president won the argument on gun safety with the public and lost the vote in the Senate? It’s because he doesn’t know how to work the system. And it’s clear now that he doesn’t want to learn, or to even hire some clever people who can tell him how to do it or do it for him.

It’s unbelievable that with 90 percent of Americans on his side, he could get only 54 votes in the Senate. It was a glaring example of his weakness in using leverage to get what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill is scared of him.

Even House Republicans who had no intention of voting for the gun bill marveled privately that the president could not muster 60 votes in a Senate that his party controls.

President Obama thinks he can use emotion to bring pressure on Congress. But that’s not how adults with power respond to things. He chooses not to get down in the weeds and pretend he values the stroking and other little things that matter to lawmakers.

Apparently, the president does not know about positive psychology. He began with the premise that things were not going to turn out well. They did not turn out well. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In Dowd’s words:

The White House had a defeatist mantra: This is tough. We need to do it. But we’re probably going to lose.

When you go into a fight saying you’re probably going to lose, you’re probably going to lose.

Obama does not like to negotiate. He does not like to deal with human beings. He believes that Congressmen and women should follow his lead because he connects with the American people, and besides, he’s Barack Obama.

Dowd explains his failure:

There were ways to get to 60 votes. The White House just had to scratch it out with a real strategy and a never-let-go attitude.

Obama hates selling. He thinks people should just accept the right thing to do. But as Joe Manchin, the West Virginia Democrat, noted, senators have their own tough selling job to do back home. “In the end you can really believe in something,” he told The Times’s Jennifer Steinhauer, “but you have to go sell it.”

Of course, Dowd is assuming that the Senate gun-control bill would have been a good thing. For all we know, Obama’s ineptitude on this issue might have produced a positive outcome.


Paul said...

Dowds analysis of the Presidents governing style may be accurate but her analysis of the failure of this gun control bill is not. If "90% of the people" are behind the democrats on this issue, why would any senator have a tough selling-job to do back home?

Dennis said...

Question. Why did Harry Reid go the way he did on the background check bill? It would seem that he had enough votes to pass it otherwise.
!. Because it would have opened it up for discussion
2. A number of pro gun amendments would of had the votes to win
3. There was something in the bill that gun control proponents said was not in the bill which denoted that those who sell gun with a Federal Firearms license would have had to create records.
4. I would suggest that Reid knew that a large number of Democrats from "red" states" would not have voted for it. Some of them only voted for the bill as voted on because they knew it had already been defeated thereby keeping part of their base happy.

Jeff Dorsai said...

Dowd is mistaken that Obama connects with people ... he is simply using other peoples tragedies to push his quest for power ... he doesn't connect with anyone ...

Lastango said...

"...and besides, he’s Barack Obama."

Quite so. The mountain comes to him, he doesn't need to go to the mountain.

So far it's worked. Why would anyone who has escaped personal blame for Obamacare problems, then skated through the Benghazi debacle and the crumbling of the always-phony "Arab Spring" mirage think he needs to work up a sweat?

I'm reminded of what someone wrote about George Bush, to the effect that all his life the river had flowed right to his door. When he proved a feckless, lazy croneyist that gave conservatives eight wasted years, that was the natural outcome, not a surprise.

Sam L. said...

Ya know, I keep reading this "90%" bit, and wonder, where did this come from. Not very much, though, because it seems to be "the narrative", and I figure the number is bogus, statistically skewed, form an insufficient and non-random sample. If Benghazi Barry says it, it ain't so. Same for MoDo. I don't think BB made the argument with the people, other than "get on the 90% bandwagon". He can't sell, because he won't persuade, just tells us what he wants us to do. Me, I give 'im the razzberry.

And yes, not passing this gun bill was a very good thing.

Memphis Steve said...

Dowd's assertion that 90% of the American People were with him on gun control makes no sense at all. It assumes there is no such thing as the NRA and that millions of Americans aren't members. It assumes that all non-NRA members are huge gun control fanatics. It assumes that the attitudes of people in New York City and Washington DC are representative of the attitudes of everyone else in America. It's typical of the thinking of people who have spent too much time in those cities and not enough time in the real world. If even 75% of the American People supported it, it would have passed easily.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree that many of Dowd's assertions are dubious, a best. I linked her piece because I agree with her that Obama's skill is connecting with masses of people-- in a way that Mitt Romney never could-- but that he has no idea how to govern. Of course, I and others have made the same point over and over again. It's good to see Dowd on board.

Dennis said...

A little humor that seems to fit:

Over five thousand years ago, Moses said to the children of Israel ,
"Pick up your shovels, mount your asses and camels, and I will lead you
to the Promised Land."

Nearly 75 years ago, (when Welfare was introduced) Roosevelt said, "Lay
down your shovels, sit on your asses, and light up a Camel, this is the
Promised Land."

Today, Obama has stolen your shovel, taxed your asses, raised the price
of camels and mortgaged the Promised Land!

I was so depressed last night thinking about Health Care Plans, the
economy, the wars, lost jobs, savings, Social Security, retirement
funds, etc . . . I called a Suicide Hotline. I had to press 1 for

I was connected to a call center in Pakistan . I told them I was
suicidal. They got excited and asked if I could drive a truck......

Leo G said...

Mead's take. Interesting from one lib to another.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I'm not sure why everyone is on Maureen Dowd's case. Perhaps they are all disturbed that she considers BHO to be a failure at governing.

It is true enough that no executive will get very far by applying the Dowd negotiation strategy. Any executive who goes to Dowd for advice on how to govern is probably not suited for his job anyway.

Dowd made a few lame suggestions, but these do not obviate the fact that she identified BHO's failure to function as a president.