Set aside, briefly, the 2012 presidential election, and take a look at what President Obama is doing to the Democratic Party.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Obama’s moves on these issues, it’s important to look at how he has embraced and rewarded those whom National Journal’s Ron Brownstein has labeled “the coalition of the ascendant.” Obama has, just in the last several months, endorsed gay marriage, energetically gotten on the wrong side of the Catholic Church, loosened his record-breaking deportation policy, put the office’s full weight behind universal health care. Yes, all of these liberalized policies are domestic, and don’t touch a foreign policy record many liberals would rather just forget about. But the moves also defy the tastes of the socially conservative white voters that once elected Democrats to majorities.
What that means for the Democratic Party in the mid-term is that more-centrist, down-ballot candidates can for the time being score easy points with voters back home – and with the press – for splitting with the president and appearing bipartisan. But soon – now, really – Obama’s shifts will have changed the rules for the party’s presidential nomination. As interest groups are rewarded with policy changes, they grow more powerful, and demand more policy changes. Democratic presidential candidates who go for a Sister Souljah moment with Hispanic voters during the primary will have coroners inspecting the contents of their wallets within hours. Capturing the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 will be a losing proposition without an ardently pro-gay-marriage stance.
And do you think Vice President Joe Biden was cognizant of that when he indelicately nudged the president into action on the issue? Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick – all strongly pro-gay marriage. And any one of the numerous other contenders will need to get there, fully, if they want viability in four years.
The short-term political efficacies of Obama’s recent, progressive policy shifts are all debatable. What’s not is that he’s remaking the party.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
[National Journal, 6/28/12] In recent months, the president has repeatedly subordinated the concerns of older and blue-collar whites to the preferences of the Democrats’ emerging coalition: He endorsed gay marriage, championed free contraception, legalized some young illegal immigrants, and denounced “show me your papers.”
2012 Campaign Ad Spending Poised To Smash 2008 Record
[National Journal, 6/29/12] With more than four months to go before Election Day, Obama, Romney and their allies are already spending money at a faster pace than the final weeks of the 2008 presidential election. All sides dropped more than $30 million in just the past week- compare with $28 million combined per week by the end of September 2008.
Giuliani: Obama is 'An Unsuccessful Person'
[Associated Press, 6/29/12] Former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani said Obama has accomplished nothing and if he is re-elected, the country will be more socialist than France is. "What do we want to elect, an unsuccessful person?" Giuliani said on a campaign stop in Las Vegas.
Adelson Pledges $10 Million to Koch Network
[Politico, 6/29/12] Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who once supported Newt Gingrich, this week pledged $10 million to the Koch brothers’ 2012 efforts. The network plans to spend nearly $400 million to support the GOP.
How the Health Care Ruling Shapes the Campaign
[National Journal, 6/28/12] National Journal’s Michael Hirsh writes that the high court just handed Mitt Romney a compliment: Your health care law in Massachusetts is not only effective, it’s constitutional. But “The Absurd” Romney is being forced to run away from this victory, even as a campaign that should be about the economy – Romney’s best bet – turns into one about "Obamacare."
Democracy Corps: Obama’s Messaging Is Working After All
[National Journal, 6/29/12] Democracy Corps, the Democratic polling firm that raised alarm bells about Obama's economic messaging earlier this month, found Romney’s favorability ratings growing increasingly negative over the last month.
Axelrod, Messina Fooled on Supreme Court Ruling
[National Journal, 6/29/12] In the moments after the Supreme Court’s ruling on the health care law came out on Thursday, Obama senior adviser David Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina – as well as the president himself – were fooled by an incorrect CNN headline.
GOP: John Roberts Shift a Major Boon for Mitt Romney
[Boston Herald, 6/29/12] GOP officials are saying that the Supreme Court’s decision could backfire on Obama as now Democrats will be forced to defend a tax increase during a bad economy. Plus, irate conservative voters are pumping millions into Romney’s campaign in the wake of the ruling.
Health Care Ruling Reenergizes Tea Party
[Roll Call, 6/29/12] For the tea party, a movement born in part from opposition to the health care overhaul, Thursday’s ruling is exactly what they had been training for. The behind-the-scenes strategists who helped the GOP take the House in 2010 are now preparing for a flood of donations.
Romney Ad Shows Hillary Rodham Clinton Attacking Obama
[New York Times, 6/29/12] The Romney campaign is running an ad in Ohio attacking Obama for lying about Romney's record and features Hillary Rodham Clinton. The clip of Clinton from the 2008 Democratic presidential primary race was used to show that Obama lied about her when she was his opponent as well.
Why Romney Won’t Repeal 'Obamacare'
[New Yorker, 6/28/12] There is literally nothing the GOP could offer in return for repealing the Democrat’s greatest achievement since Lyndon Johnson’s term, Ryan Lizza writes. Negotiations to repeal "Obamacare" would be dead before they started if a President Romney and Republicans demanded repeal as a price for a Grand Bargain after the so-called fiscal cliff on Dec. 31.
Holder Contempt Vote May Lead to Dead End on ‘Fast and Furious’
[Huffington Post, 6/28/12] In a nearly party-line vote, the House easily passed a measure on Thursday citing Attorney General Eric Holder with contempt of Congress. But House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa’s failure to secure any damning evidence against Justice's top official suggests that his investigation has now largely run its course.
Decision Preserves Obama’s Play for a Historic Presidency
[New York Times, 6/28/12] The high court’s decision preserves Obama’s status as the president who did more to expand the nation’s safety net than any since LBJ. And it allows the president to argue that he has delivered on the most cherished goal of his 2008 campaign: “Change we can believe in.”
In Moments After the Decision, Confusion
[Wall Street Journal, 6/28/12] It took mere seconds for erroneous reports by CNN and Fox News to set off a flurry of confusion among lawmakers, candidates, and even the president. The first word Obama received of the high court’s ruling was a CNN headline: “SUPREME CT. KILLS KINDIVIDUAL MANDATE.”
Romney Campaign Unleashes Coordinated Response to Court Ruling
[New York Times, 6/28/12] Moments after the high court ruled on the health care law, the Romney team unleashed a public-relations plan that was nine weeks in the making and designed to make sure that the GOP response to whatever the Court decided served Romney’s White House ambitions.
Republicans Pledge Push for Repeal After Health Care Ruling
[Bloomberg, 6/28/12] Romney and congressional Republicans vowed on Thursday to repeal Obama’s health care overhaul, proclaiming that they would try to use the high court's decision to their advantage in November.
Skip Electoral College Math
[National Journal, 6/28/12] Our nation has had 56 elections; in 53 of them, the winner in the Electoral College also won the popular vote. National Journal’s Charlie Cook urges the Romney and Obama teams to stop parsing state-level polls, and start examining national polling data.
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