Yesterday, we mentioned that political silly season is in full swing. First, Democrats started filling the airwaves with increasingly ridiculous ads. Then came the tacky fundraising emails that filled our inboxes. And now that desperation has fully set in, the last phase is upon us: The blame game.
Democrats can see the writing on the wall. Over the past four years they’ve watched with aggravation as party leadership has fed them to the wolves. They’ve been forced to take tough votes on unpopular issues, they’ve had to stand silent as their president flubbed crisis after crisis, and they’ve been prevented from offering ideas in the Senate for fear that Republicans might be given an opening to pass an amendment.
It’s little wonder then that many Democratic candidates, sensing that they are destined to defeat, are spending the waning days before the election pointing the finger of blame at anyone but themselves. Lisa Lerer and Margaret Talev report for Bloomberg:
Years of disappointment and tension between Democrats and their president are now on open display as politicians, party leaders and strategists worried about their chances in the midterm elections begin casting about for someone to blame.
A party and its president often go their separate ways during the final years of a second term, and Democrats say they appreciate Obama’s decision to avoid campaigning in competitive states. But that doesn’t do much to soften frustration with what they describe as near-political malpractice by the White House, basic missteps that some blame on an insular president who they say takes advice from aides with little campaign experience. “Folks are beginning to scapegoat and second guess, but there are plenty of reasons to do that,” said strategist Jim Manley, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “President Obama doesn’t like to get his hands dirty. He seemingly floats above it all.”
President Obama isn’t taking those accusations lying down.
Earlier this month he took a not so subtle jab at Democrats who were publicly distancing themselves from him on the campaign trail.
“I am not on the ballot this fall,” Obama said. “But make no mistake: These are my policies on the ballot. Every single one of them.”
Democrats, who were doing everything possible to sever any link between themselves and the president, even going so far as to refuse to answer questions about whether they voted for him in 2012, were visibly displeased. But President Obama doubled down.
“We’ve got a tough map. A lost of the states that are contested this time are states that I didn’t win. And so some of the candidates there, you know, it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turnout,” President Obama said. “The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress.”
And that’s when the claws came out.
“The ineptitude of the White House political operation has sunk from annoying to embarrassing,” one senior Senate Democratic aide told National Journal.”
Another aide told the Washington Post, “If this is a strategy, it’s not one that was devised with any input from Senate leadership.”
The intra-party sniping has gotten so bad that Salon (Salon!), which is known for defending Democrats at all costs, seems embarrassed by the sideshow: “They were going to lose anyway,” Salon says of Democratic candidates, “but now they can tell prospective future employers, well, we would have won it, if Obama hadn’t put his foot in his mouth without consulting us.”
The Obama Administration seems only too happy to help push that narrative. In a press conference last week White House press secretary Josh Earnest gave a statement that was akin to telling Democratic candidates that they only have themselves to blame for running such crappy campaigns.
“The success of many of these Democratic candidates will depend on their own success in motivating voters that strongly supported the president in 2012,” Earnest told reporters. “It’s ultimately their campaign; it’s their name on the ballot.”
With friends like those who needs enemies? And all Republicans have to do is sit back and watch Democrats self destruct.