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Blog Buzz: Battle of the base

Bloggers took President Obama and Vice President Biden's recent comments, in which they expressed frustration over low voter enthusiasm, as a symbol of mutual disillusionment between voters and the West Wing.

Liberal blogs chastised the leaders for trying to blame voters for their predicted midterm losses, while conservatives looked on as the battle of the base continued.

Washington Monthly's Steve Benen wrote about President Obama's comments in Rolling Stone that "it is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election." Benen divided those disaffected voters into two main parties, and discussed the ways to reach those groups: "those who believe the president's accomplishments have been inadequate; and those who are struggling badly in this economy, and expected conditions to be better than they are under Obama."

For those in the "inadequate" camp, the president's pitch may or may not be persuasive, but I think it should be. We talked recently about the accomplishments of the last 21 months, so I won't rehash the list again, but I continue to believe it's a record that's as impressive as anything we've seen in modern times. What's more, I'm not at all convinced it was within the president's power to make these milestone breakthroughs any stronger. The accomplishments can and should go further, but for the Democratic base, that should mean getting more engaged, not less.

Reaching that final group seems to be a tougher sell. The administration's economic policies have made a huge difference, but the status quo is still woefully unacceptable. It's not necessarily up to the president alone to grab hold of the economy and make it better, but there have been missteps and the frustration is understandable.

I suppose the pitch Democrats can make to these voters is: it can and will get worse if Republicans win, and would have been much worse had the GOP gotten its way.

MyDD's Jerome Armstrong seemed to fall under the group that thinks Obama's accomplishments have been inadequate, writing that his Rolling Stone interview "made him sound like the Whiner In Chief, not a confident President."

Its unbelievable that Obama thinks he's accomplished '70 percent' of his promises. What a crock. The guy has no personal sense of accountability at all, its rather embarrasing.

You can pretty much tell that the whole point of his doing this article was to point a finger of blame, and set up the WH story for the upcoming mid-term loss... All very coordinated. But what's interesting about it is how detached Obama himself is from the exercise. It certainly isn't motivating. Its not uniting. It tilts more to the lecturing side. He's apparently already standing up, has been so all along, and has nothing to do with the problem of there being a lack of principle.

AMERICAblog's John Aravosis
took issue with Biden's comments on MSNBC last night when talking with Lawrence O'Donnell, host of "The Last Word." During the interview, Biden said that "there's a new majority, 60 votes," which prevented Democrats from, in some cases, getting legislation passed, and in others, getting it passed through normal channels, like health care reform.

Two problems with that line of argument. First, George Bush did just fine with a 55 vote, and even a 50 vote, majority in the Senate. Why couldn't Obama/Biden do just as well with 60? ... Rather than lecturing Democrats about how unreasonable they are to be upset with the President for constantly negotiating with himself, Biden would do better having a talk with his boss, and asking him why George Bush was so effective at passing his agenda, at kow-towing Democrats, and at thwarting opposition filibusters, when Bush had far fewer numbers than Obama has now in the US Senate.

The conservative side also noted the apparent conflict between the White House and voters, as vocalized by its two chief spokesmen.

Daniel Foster of NRO
satirized the president's listing of his legislative accomplishments during his Rolling Stone interview:

Obama tells Democrats to 'wake up' and gaze upon his works.

And on Biden, Hot Air's Allahpundit wondered why the liberal base hasn't been more incensed that members of the West Wing seem to continue to slam them for wanting to see more accomplishments and not being fired up enough about the midterms.

"As much as I enjoy this hot internecine blue-on-blue action, I can’t blame rank-and-file lefties for being annoyed with Team Barry. If anything, their reaction thus far has been remarkably subdued."