Bush, Obama, and Competence

In After Hope and Change, we look at the 2012 campaign, in which Barack Obama ran against Mitt Romney and the memory of George W. Bush. 

Chris Cillizza writes at The Washington Post:

Obama was elected in 2008 on a stated promise that he would restore competence to government. He pitched himself as the antidote to “Heck of a job, Brownie" and the Bush years, the person who would always put the most qualified candidate in every job in his Administration. That the basic functioning of government would never be in question.

Almost six years on from that election, however, Obama is faltering badly on the competence question and, in so doing, badly imperiling not only his ability to enact any sort of second term agenda but also Democrats’ chances this fall. A series of events — from the VA scandal to the ongoing border crisis to the situation in Ukraine to the NSA spying program — have badly undermined the idea that Obama can effectively manage the government.

The latest evidence is a question in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Sunday that asks whether the phrase “can manage the government effectively” applies to Obama. Just more than four in ten (42 percent) said that it does while 57 percent said it does not. (It was the lowest that Obama scored on any of the six characteristic questions CNN asked in the survey.)

29 July 2014 ·

"Sincere in What He Says"

In After Hope and Change, we discuss disappointment with the president. Asother posts have noted, he made promises that he could not keep.   He is paying a price in public opinion.

According to the CNN poll, a shrinking number of Americans think that President Obama “is sincere in what he says.”

July 18-20, 2014………49% 
January 14-16, 2011…65% 
June 16, 2010…………64% 
January 22-24, 2010…63% 

28 July 2014 ·

Romney Would Beat Obama Today

In After Hope and Change, we note that Obama lost support between 2008 and 2012, though not enough to cost him reelection.  The erosion continues.

CNN reports:

If a rematch of the 2012 presidential election were held today, GOP nominee Mitt Romney would top President Barack Obama in the popular vote, according to a new national survey.

But a CNN/ORC International poll also indicates that if Romney changes his mind and runs again for the White House, Hillary Clinton would best him by double digits in a hypothetical showdown.

27 July 2014 ·

Hope and Change Redux

In After Hope and Change, we contrast the high hopes for Obama with the reality of governing. At The Washington Post, Katie Zezima writes:

Yes, we can — bring back talk of hope and change.

President Obama ascended to — and stayed in — the Oval Office by campaigning on the lofty ideals of hope and change, urging Americans to reject pessimism and look toward a more promising future.

Close to six years into his presidency, Obama no longer has to run for re-election. But he is resurrecting his campaign rhetoric as part of a midterm strategy of public speeches that hammer Republicans, return to the aspirational language that helped elevate him to office and boost his populist bona fides by getting him out of Washington more often andinteracting with ordinary people.

26 July 2014 ·

High Hopes

In After Hope and Change, we contrast the high hopes for Obama with the reality of governing.

At Foreign Policy, James Traub writes:

I had high hopes for the Obama reformulation. I was delighted by the president’s 2009 speech in Cairo — too delighted, perhaps, to notice that he offered little beyond his own voice and story. (That was part of Kagan’s point.) The president and his team believed that the world was prepared to embrace a new voice and a new face. No doubt the French and the Germans were, but the Arabs were not. They wanted to be rid of the stultifying autocracies that kept them in thrall; they wanted a Palestinian state — and not an Israeli one. Obama couldn’t deliver those things. And when the autocracies fell, or tottered, Obama’s native prudence kept the United States largely on the sidelines, both in places like Bahrain, where he probably could have made no difference, and in ones like Syria, where he lost the chance to limit atrocities and halt the slide toward chaos. The most recent Pew Research Center survey of global attitudes toward the United States found that Egypt scored dead last, with 10 percent holding a favorable view. That’s just a tick below Jordan, America’s staunchest Arab ally, where only 12 percent hold a favorable view.

25 July 2014 ·

In After Hope and Change, we contrast the promises of the 2008 Obama campaign with the reality of governing.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review reports:

In its latest video, the Republican National Committee (RNC) takes the Fundraiser-in-Chief to task: as Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry put it to Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest: “There are five workdays this week, and three of them, he’s fundraising.”

A growing number of conservatives and liberals alike have criticized Obama’s latest Fundraising extravaganza – particularly in light of the world crumbling around him.

24 July 2014 ·

Thomas Frank and the Meme

As many posts have indicated, the title of After Hope and Change anticipated a media meme.

At Salon, Thomas Frank speculates on the design of the Obama Library as a way of scalding POTUS for disappointing the left’s hopes for change.

In approaching this subject, let us first address the historical situation of the Obama administration. The task of museums, like that of history generally, is to document periods of great change. The task facing the makers of the Obama museum, however, will be pretty much exactly the opposite: how to document a time when America should have changed but didn’t. Its project will be to explain an age when every aspect of societal breakdown was out in the open and the old platitudes could no longer paper it over—when the meritocracy was clearly corrupt, when the financial system had devolved into organized thievery, when everyone knew that the politicians were bought and the worst criminals went unprosecuted and the middle class was in a state of collapse and the newspaper pundits were like street performers miming “seriousness” for an audience that had lost its taste for mime and seriousness both. It was a time when every thinking person could see that the reigning ideology had failed, that an epoch had ended, that the shitty consensus ideas of the 1980s had finally caved in—and when an unlikely champion arose from the mean streets of Chicago to keep the whole thing propped up nevertheless.

24 July 2014 ·

In After Hope and Change, we discuss the president’s rhetoric.  What was once fresh and new is now stale and tired.

At The Washington Free Beacon, David Rutz illustrates this point with a supercut of Obama speeches.

17 July 2014 ·

Health Insurance Premiums

In After Hope and Change, we contrast the promises of the 2008 Obama campaign with the reality of governing.

Bobby Jindal writes:

How would you feel if someone promised to give you a car, and then reneged on that pledge?  That’s how all Americans should feel when it comes to ObamaCare — because Barack Obama’s failed and discredited campaign promise to lower health insurance premiums has cost the average American family an amount equal to the price of many new cars.

During his 2008 campaign, one of then-Senator Obama’s most audacious promises was that his health plan would reduce premiums by $2,500 for the average family.  His repeatedly made his pledge on videotape; you can view those promises here.  But health insurance premiums have continued to rise — not just despite ObamaCare, but in many cases because of the law’s new regulations and mandates.

new analysis by the think-tank America Next, where I serve as honorary chairman, quantifies the massive scope of the broken promise.  Compared to 2008 — the year President Obama was elected — Americans have faced a cumulative $6,388 per individual, and $18,610 per family, in higher costs because President Obama’s health plan has failed to achieve its promised premium reductions.  Overall, that amounts to $1.2 trillion in higher premium costs due to ObamaCare’s failure to deliver.

16 July 2014 ·

Secrets and Promises

In After Hope and Change, we contrast the promises of the 2008 Obama campaign with the reality of governing.

Nick Baumann writes at Mother Jones:

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama hammered George W. Bush for expanding government secrecy. Obama promised that his would be the most transparent and open administration ever. In particular, Obama criticized the Bush administration’s use of a legal loophole known as the state secrets privilege. Citing this privilege, government lawyers can keep evidence and testimony from being introduced in court that would reveal government secrets. 

In 2008, Obama griped that the Bush administration invoked the state secrets privilege “more than any other previous administration” and used it to getentire lawsuits thrown out of court. „, After Obama took office, his attorney general, Eric Holder, promised to significantly limit the use of this controversial legal doctrine. Holder vowed never to use it to “conceal violations of the law, inefficiency, or administrative error” or “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency of the United States Government.”

Despite this promise, Obama continued to assert the privilege to squelch cases about Bush-era abuses. In one instance, the Justice Department scuttled a lawsuit brought by a man who claimed he had been kidnapped by the CIA and had his penis and testicles cut with a scalpel in a Moroccan prison. And now Obama is broadening the use of this legal maneuver: In the past 18 months, the Obama administration has twice cited state secrets to prevent federal courts from considering lawsuits challenging its use of the no-fly list.

15 July 2014 ·

About This Blog

This blog supplements our book: James W. Ceaser, Andrew E. Busch, and John J. Pitney, Jr., After Hope and Change: the 2012 Elections and American Politics (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012).