Obama deserves blame, too, over Senate race

Among Democrats, the finger-pointing has already begun over what is shaping up to be a catastrophic loss in Massachusetts. (Over at 538, smart pollster Nate Silver is giving Martha Coakley only a 25 percent chance of winning in the bluest of blue states.) They’re blaming Coakley for being a bad candidates (she is); they’re blaming her pollsters and strategists; they’re blaming President Obama.

For my money, Obama ought to get about half the blame for the trouble all Democrats — not just Coakley — are in. He has not developed the ability to tell a persuasive narrative to the voters. In that regard, he ain’t Ronald Reagan.

A couple of liberal pundits — E.J. Dionne and Eugene Robinson — have pointed out that Ronald Reagan’s fortunes had fallen as far as Obama’s after his first year in office. That’s because Reagan had also inherited a terrible economy. But Dionne and Robinson also point out that Reagan was the Great Communicator who never stopped bashing the Democrats and Jimmy Carter for the nation’s woes. And his critique stuck: A generation later, many Americans believe government is the problem and not the answer.

Obama had the perfect opportunity to change the narrative — to remind Americans that tough government regulations are necessary to prevent unfettered capitalism from pillaging the economy. But he hasn’t done it. He’s the most gifted spokesman the Dems currently have in office, but he has not constructed a narrative that helps voters to understand what has happened.

(Republicans, of course, say it’s all about Obama’s policies. It isn’t. It’s all about the story they’ve told about the policies. Independents don’t hear about health care for all; they hear about a big, stinkin’ “government takeover.” How can it be a government takeover when insurance will still be largely provided by private insurers?)

It’s not clear why Obama has gotten it so wrong. He may have misjudged Republicans, trusting them to be a loyal opposition when, instead, they’ve been obstructionists who only care about trashing his presidency. He may have made the classic Democratic mistake — thinking that voters will remember the facts. They don’t. They have to be told over and over and over.

But it’s more likely that the cool and cerebral Obama simply didn’t want to engage in the continual trashing of the opposition that it takes to be successful in American politics these days. If he can’t find a way to do that, he’ll be a one term president.

91 comments Add your comment

Turd Ferguson

January 19th, 2010
8:04 am

Perhaps the faith in obama telling the truth about most anything and his style of politics is the problem.

Obama is not forthcoming and trustworthy.


January 19th, 2010
8:14 am

Remember facts like the one that 70% of Americans do not want this healthcare bill ?


January 19th, 2010
8:16 am

This is a progressives way of saying: “People are stupid. As long as you tell them what you want them to hear it really doesn’t matter what you do.” Or to put it another way – People really want a progressive agenda – they just don’t know it.

Both points are wrong. People DON”T want a progressive agenda. That is exactly why progressives don’t understand the tea parties, and don’t understand the ground swell of frustration and anger in the massive middle of the voting public.

People want government to simply STOP SPENDING!! It is very, very simple. The vast majority of moderate voters hated Bush for all kinds of reasons, but mostly for betraying the simple mantra of spend less. He spent MORE and his congress spent faster than Bush. So they voted Bush out.

The vote that elected Obama wasn’t a vote FOR Obama. It was AGAINST Bush. So the miss read by progressives about a mandate was wrong. Unfortunately the myth of a mandate still the gospel among progressives and so they don’t understand the anger and frustration.

This special election is putting a spotlight on how large, broad and deep that frustration is and STILL I read articles like the one above blaming Massachusetts on everything but the inability to understand that people just don’t want government to spend.


January 19th, 2010
8:19 am

I cannot help but wonder: Is Cynthia seriously placing much of the blame for where we are on President’s Obama inability to communicate with the voters? Not even a casual reference to openness or transparency? Not even a casual mention of earmarks or lobbiest?

The Reagan Administration did something to turn his economy around. The Obama Administration should look into what Reagan did and push for that as the economic cure.

alex west

January 19th, 2010
8:28 am

Cynthia ,
you forgot to mention obama promised to put health care on c-span.. so far none…

liar liar pants on fair…


January 19th, 2010
8:33 am

Unfettered capitalism. To Tucker, those are two dirty words. The real problem we have is unfettered liberalism. Voters are finally waking up to the fact that they don’t want to pay for bad decisions made by others who are on the dole.

Call it like it is.

January 19th, 2010
8:44 am

This is great, Obama is the president, the dems control the house and the senate, yet it the still somehow, someway the Republicans fault that America is not drinking the Kool aid. Love the spin Cindy. You ever thought about writing for SNL or the tonight show?

Ragnar Danneskjöld

January 19th, 2010
8:51 am

I disagree with our hostess. The problem with leftism is not “poor salesmanship.” Leftism always fails. If our Empty Suit had embraced conservative economics, he would have succeeded despite lousy salesmanship. Since Coolidge, only Reagan consistently embraced conservatism (no critique of a “military-industrial complex” there.) Only Reagan enjoyed unfettered growth.

We will credit President Clinton with seizing Republican talking points in 1994 and swerving right; his uneasy partnership with Speaker Gingrich and his willingness to embrace free-trade (NAFTA) made his administration an economic success after a rough start. Similarly President Bush 43 inherited a pile of last-minute regulations from his predecessor that left the country in a shambles, but tax cuts coupled with an absence of a regulatory regimen allowed the economy to roar until democrats took Congress.

It’s the ideology, stupid.


January 19th, 2010
9:09 am

Again you show an impressive ability to miss or manipulate the point. Reagan was able to communicate so well because he had a sincere patriotic motive, message, and plan for rebuilding America’s spirit. His were communications of the heart not teleprompter. There were no self-serving destructive motives. By your way of thinking Washington and Jefferson were “obstructionists”. And having been through the Carter debacle I saw first hand that Reagan actually focussed on the job of rebuilding America and our spirit and rarely if ever looked back or cast blame. You are so correct he ain’t no Reagan!!!


January 19th, 2010
9:10 am

Cynthia “Hypocrite” Tucker is at it again. This one stuck out: ” they’ve been obstructionists who only care about trashing his presidency”.

Kinda like what you, Jay, and other Dems did to Bush, right? Right? RIGHT???


January 19th, 2010
9:12 am

Boo, hoo, hoo ! Just wait until November.


January 19th, 2010
9:17 am

What a laugh. He hasn’t developed a “narrative”. The American people have eyes and ears. They know what is going on. They know the Democrats would have a central government that usurps all states rights, and the rights of individuals, and they want no part of it. I hope, like it did in the 1700’s that the revolution begins again in Massachusetts. Go Brown.


January 19th, 2010
9:21 am

Um, Miss Tucker.

We know that government is the problem, and that capitalism is good because we’re educated and posess common sense.

We don’t hang on to every word some hack politician says. You act like Obama should be the spokesman for Marxism.

What you fail to realize is that he IS the spokesman for Marxism, and that’s why a Republican is going to win in Mass. (of all places) today.


January 19th, 2010
9:36 am

” And his critique stuck: A generation later, many Americans believe government is the problem and not the answer.”

That was not a critique. It is comman sense. For those who look to government for answers, deserve everything you get.

The majority of Americans are just sick of subsidizing your foolish choices.


January 19th, 2010
9:44 am

Ms. Tucker,

While it’s embarrassing to admit that so many of my fellow Americans were too stupid to recognize it sooner, what we’re seeing now is the “V8″ moments from the grassroots…..

“OK…we get it now. This guy is a far-left socialist and a liar. Our bad.”


January 19th, 2010
9:47 am

All I know is that if you look at the last 100 years, more people have died from an overabundance of government than any other single item (with the exception of old age). So yes, government can be the problem, and often is. As it’s always a problem when people think they know better than you and try to force you to act in certain ways, and to spend the wealth earned by your labor how they want you to instead of how you want to. And when you don’t agree, they come up with ways to kill you or put you in jail. That’s the government, no matter where, no matter when, and no matter what system, it comes down to people who think they know better than you forcing you to their will.


January 19th, 2010
9:49 am

So he couldn’t convince the find citizens of Mass. of his lies? Because if you have to sell it, that means it cannot stand on it’s own merits. I look forward to this defeat in the bluest of blue states. MA has more yellow dog democrats than any other state in the country which makes this a giant LOL!

kayaker 71

January 19th, 2010
9:58 am

Blame Republicans…… that’s about all you’ve got, Cynthia. Bozo has dug his own grave with little help from Republicans. The American people are not stupid, at least most of them. They recognize when things are not going right. You seem to imply that all of the opposition to Bozo’s policies are all from the right. That’s far from the truth. The moderates and independents put this clown in office and they are having serious doubts about their decisions. We might not win MA but either way, win or lose, we have won. Bozo is a flash in the pan. I don’t think that most of thinking America was against having a black man in the White House. It’s just that they picked the wrong one.


January 19th, 2010
10:02 am

How is government the problem when the near depression we just experienced was due to Capitalism run amock and LACK of govt oversight in the housing market and other areas?

I’m beyond astounded at the idiocy that I read in these forum posts. Are you people for real??

kayaker 71

January 19th, 2010
10:20 am


Capitalism is not the enemy here, far from it. All financial systems need regulation, regardless of your political persuasion. The answer is not more government running the show….. It’s better regulation in place to let the system work. It seems to have worked, with some exceptions, pretty well over the last 150 or so years. It would be a shame to put government in charge. Government has a pretty dismal track record when it comes to running things.


January 19th, 2010
10:31 am

Obama’s problem is he lies way too much. Plus it does not take much to realize that our fed gov’t is basically working for the unions..and we all know how great unions are, i mean look at all the great jobs that left and went overseas because of them.


January 19th, 2010
10:32 am

The Kennedy curse continues.., isn’t it ironic.


January 19th, 2010
10:40 am

Simply because a party disagrees with the opposition’s policy does not make them “obstructionists.” Saying that Republicans only want to trash Obama’s presidency is absurd.


January 19th, 2010
10:43 am

“instead, they’ve been obstructionists who only care about trashing his presidency.”

Your pot meets kettle weekly statement. You got some gall.

Reagan spoke the truth, Obama can’t speak the truth, and neither can Cindy.


January 19th, 2010
10:48 am

If not for the Republicans abuse of the filibuster, the health care reform bill could pass with a simple majority (51 votes in the Senate). In the Senate bill, there is no public option, so there’s no government “takeover” of health care. The Senate’s version of the bill passed last month projected a $132 billion reduction of the budget deficit (according to the Congressional Budget Office). But it boils down to this: Would taxpayers rather spend $1.5 trillion on a pointless war (Iraq) that’s cost thousands of American soldiers their lives (in 7 years), or would we rather spend $900 billion or $1 trillion for something that will preserve the health and prolong the lives of tens of millions of Americans? This is a question of priorities and Republicans have the wrong ones.

Turd Ferguson

January 19th, 2010
11:11 am


January 19th, 2010
10:48 am

“But it boils down to this”
No…it doesnt. Go watch some reruns of Matchgame 74 and get back to us another time.


January 19th, 2010
11:12 am

If a Republican wins a Senate seat in Mass., no one will be more surprised than me. I’m not counting the chickens yet.

However, if the Rep. DOES win, it will sting like $&*^% for the National Socialist party, especially if they lose one in their own back yard.


January 19th, 2010
11:15 am

Turd Ferguson @ 11:11, do you have any facts you’d like to present? Or are you going to insult people all day long, as usual?


January 19th, 2010
11:16 am

Obama was voted in as President. I am a loyal Republican, But I want the President to be sucessful. Harry Reid and Waxman were not voted in as president, but they control the party. Obama needs to be his own man. Obama can not trust his own party. Obama is now comming across as an empty suit.

Sunshine and Thunder

January 19th, 2010
11:25 am

How un-liberal of you, Cynthia. I thought liberals believed in radical egalitarianism. Right now, this bill in its present form treats certain states with preference. It also treats certain “cadillac” insurance policies with preference. How can any liberal support this unequal treatment?


January 19th, 2010
11:26 am

Staggeringly biased take on the problems Obama is having. So, just to recap, Obamas problems aren’t because he has broken many meaningful campaign promises, is ramming bills that the majority of the people don’t want through Congress, has spent money like a drunken sailor and then lectures us about over-spending, spends a great deal of time traveling, golfing and vacationing, is employing Chicago style politics and is making one greasy backroom deal after another and then denigrates the citizens who disagree with him. According to Cynthia, his problem is that he doesn’t blame Bush often enough or well enough. Well, I agree with one thing she said – he doesn’t communicate well period, if he was all that great he wouldn’t need a teleprompter 24/7. He is flat, dull and dishonest, but I’ll give him an A for effort in trying to blame Bush for everything from the sun in the morning to the moon at night. The fact that he does it all of the time makes her argument laughable. Reagan was successful because he got us out of the hole Carter had dug by doing things that actually turned the economy around not just because he was a good speaker. Presidents are ultimately judged by their doing not saying. Obama is doing the opposite and is getting the opposite results, comes as a shock to no one who knows anything about economics. Earth to Cynthia – this was one of the lamest columns you have written and that is really saying something.


January 19th, 2010
11:26 am

Cynthia, You said:

“A generation later, many Americans believe government is the problem and not the answer.”

I love that you and your fellow democrats can’t figure this out. THE GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM!!!!

The truth of the matter is that the American People got a little bit scared when the government called for the bank bailout in October. Temporary Insanity is to blame for the election of Obama and his fellow democrats to the extent that they were. When the government showed its true colors, the American People WOKE UP. THESE actions by the dems are the reason for the problems the dems are facing right now.THAT is why Coaxley will probably lose and Brown will probably win. THAT is why the midterm elections will sweep out MOST incumbents, but especially the democrat ones who will get more blame because they are in charge.

Then you said:

“But it’s more likely that the cool and cerebral Obama simply didn’t want to engage in the continual trashing of the opposition that it takes to be successful in American politics these days.”

Yeah, that’s it. I hope ya’ll really believe that because the midterm elections will be HISTORIC.


January 19th, 2010
11:31 am

Cynthia poses the question: “How can it be a government takeover when insurance will still be largely provided by private insurers?”

If the proposed “Heath Care Reform” passes, there will no longer be health insurance. This bill institutes community rating and guaranteed issue; therefore it’s not really insurance. That’s like not allowing car insurance to rate drivers on age, driving record, gender, etc.

The government would totally control the “insurers”, limit profits, etc. They would be more like public utilities instead of private companies


January 19th, 2010
11:32 am


It wasn’t “lack of government oversight in the housing market and other areas”. IT WAS GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE IN THOSE AREAS THAT CAUSED THE PROBLEM. Too many congressmen were pressing lenders to make loans that they should not have made.

Kayaker, Regulation is not the answer either. That’s what STOCK HOLDERS are for. Regulation IS GOVERNMENT CONTROL.

Eric Johnson

January 19th, 2010
11:46 am

Cindy, you can color it any way you would like but the fact is Obama is pursuing a big government agenda that most americans do not want. The country is a mess, and the fault lies with both Republicans and Democrats. Doesn’t seem to matter who is in office, government just keeps getting bigger and bigger.


January 19th, 2010
12:10 pm

obama has done something in one year that it took bush almost a decade to do: become a liability to their party.

the democrats and this writer just don’t seem to get it….we don’t want the government running our healthcare, our banks, our car manufacturers and so on. We don’t want the back room deal shenanigans that Hussein learned in Chicago. He and Nancy Pelosi aren’t just wrong, they’re dangerous and they are being rejected. The will continue to ridicule those who reject them because they think they know what is better for us.

we want to be left alone.


January 19th, 2010
12:13 pm

Even when CT tries to find fault with Obama, she can’t…e.g., the cool and cerebral Obama; and is only able to continue to lay blame elsewhere — they’ve been obstructionists who only care about trashing his presidency.

Sad, very Sad CT….


January 19th, 2010
12:24 pm

More importantly, Obama hasn’t show that this bill WILL cost us less. Clearly, my middle class family will pay more under the Senate or House bills… lots more. It is clear that I will get NOTHING additional in return for paying more, and the very real possibility that my healthcare choices will forever be limited by a politician’s whim.

Nebraska and the Unions have shown that health care policies will forever be on the bargaining table, with some constituencies being “more equal” than others. So, I buy my own health care, and then subsidize the state of Nebraska, Louisiana, Connecticut, Massachusetts, labor Unions, and every family of 4 that makes under 3x or 4x the poverty level (about $50,000 yearly).

Finally, to truly reduce costs, we have to STOP spending money on people in their last 3 months of life. That was easy to say, but impossible to achieve. Panels of “experts” will convene to come out with guidelines (much like the recent panel came out and said that women under 50 should not get mammograms… essentially sentencing all women under 50 who develop breast cancer to death) that are arbitrary and cause some to go to an early grave.

Obama doesn’t clearly communicate how this health care overhaul will save money because it DOESN’T. It dumps 30 million people into the system (rationed care, anyone?), denies no one, and is supposed to somehow save money?


January 19th, 2010
12:25 pm

And the AJC wonders why its subscriber numbers are dwindling so low. What a load of liberal garbage. It is all about Obama’s policies, moderates and independents are realizing they don’t really want to live in a socialist country like the looney left is trying to force on us.


January 19th, 2010
12:28 pm

Heard this earlier:

“Too bad Kennedy isn’t alive to see this. The revenge of Mary Jo”.

smart black guy

January 19th, 2010
12:33 pm

So happy to see Odummy falling in the polls AGAIN!


January 19th, 2010
12:54 pm

Cynthia, you are wrong on many points today. Just a couple to mention…First of all, Obama has hardly ever given up the opportunity to pass blame onto the previous administration, even though you said “Obama simply didn’t want to engage in the continual trashing of the opposition.” Have you not heard him speak the past 12 months?

Secondly, Americans are tired of the blame game. It is not what we want to hear. We want our elected politicians to stop pointing the finger and do something to actually fix the problem.. By doing something, I mean something that is positive, not just for the sake of saying something was done.

Obama knew the problems this country faced when he applied for the job, so now that he has the job, he shouldn’t spend so much time looking in the rear-view mirror but look for solutions now. He sought the nomination, asked for the position, campaigned for it, and told us all how he could fix the problems. Blaming his inept results on Bush is a lame argument a weak leader makes when they are in over their head. This is what the people of Massachusetts and this country have realized.


January 19th, 2010
12:57 pm

My fervent wish is that Cynthia would read and learn from some of the above comments, and actually try to inform herself as to the truth of the situation in this country. That might take away from her wing-ding type opinion articles–make them less fun to jump all over, but I would like to think she was educable.

pat phelps

January 19th, 2010
12:58 pm

The problem is not that Obama hasn’t communicated. The problem is that is all he has. He is an empty suit with no ideas.

Pulitzer Phan

January 19th, 2010
12:59 pm

Cynthia, you have got to be kidding me! Your title, “Obama Deserves Blame Too, Over Senate Race” was a waste of type – because you then spent your entire diatribe blaming everyone else (real shocker there)!

“He has not developed the ability to tell a persuasive narrative to the voters.” Are you kidding me???? We’ve had enough of his “narrative” for a lifetime. He’s not pursuasive because he’s nothing but spin and blather. No substance. No truth. No “transparency”.

How you get paid to write this stuff amazes me. You are the most closed-minded bigot I have ever encountered.


January 19th, 2010
1:07 pm

“…A generation later, Americans believe government is the problem and not the answer.”

Fixed for truth.


January 19th, 2010
1:10 pm

Lol. looks like my edit didn’t take. Let’s try this again.

“…A generation later, MOST Americans STILL believe government is the problem and not the answer.”


January 19th, 2010
1:14 pm

“that tough government regulations are necessary to prevent unfettered capitalism” – Cynthia, it isn’t capitalism that is raping us, it is the Washington DC monopoly. Fair and free markets give us choices, Democrats, Obama, Reid and Pelosi create barriers and take away our choices. Competition keeps the free market honest, and Democrats can’t stand competition, they want monopoly power for their bureaucracies. The voters were stupid to fall for Obama, but now they are waking up.


January 19th, 2010
1:15 pm

“..He may have made the classic Democratic mistake — thinking that voters will remember the facts. They don’t. They have to be told over and over and over.”

This is THE best example of a liberal’s mindset. “You’re stupid. I know what’s best for you. Just vote for me.”


January 19th, 2010
1:29 pm

If I’m not mistaken, someone (look up at the top of the page) sounds a little bitter.