After Wednesday’s oddly tone-deaf response that he was "surprised" and "frustrated" about losing the Safest Senate Seat in the United States by 100,000 votes to a political unknown, I have to wonder if Obama really wants to be President anymore, or if his definition of bipartisanship means helping to ensure the election of a Republican-controlled Congress this November, which is basically the same thing.
Since taking office, Obama has been remarkably passive at times, at numerous points telling supporters to "make him" do things, as if he was just a windmill or a whirligig.
With Health Care, he has basically told Congress to do the work and spent much of the summer refusing to say whether he firmly supported a public option or not, whether he supported a triggered option or not, or whether he supported non-profit state co-ops or not.
When he did take action it was to kill one of the most important reforms which had moderate Republican support: allowing the importation of low-cost pharmaceuticals from Canada, which had the strong support of Sens. Snowe and Collins of Maine, whom he had been wooing for support of the reform package. His opposition was solely on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry who want to keep U.S. drug prices 50-100 percent higher than the same drugs across the border in Canada.
When Baucus, Lieberman and Nelson turned the concepts in the House Bill into a mangled, dysfunctional corpse and the AFL-CIO screamed, Obama’s only response was to say the Senate Bill was fine by him, thus cutting the knees off the House (where Dems. have a strong majority) and giving even more aid and comfort to Landrieu, Nelson et al.
With Ted Kennedy’s death, Obama was given the grisly but politically valuable tool of Kennedy’s martyrdom to shame everyone into crafting a bill that would honor Ted’s lifework instead of lampooning it. And with Kennedy’s seat open, and the possibility of Obama’s entire legislative agenda at risk with a Republican victory in Massachusetts, the administration paid scant attention to ensuring the Dems. had a lock on the seat, sitting back idly as their candidate flew to the Caribbean in December because it’s cold in Mass. in the winter and she doesn’t like meeting people on snowy streets to ask for their votes. Could you imagine Karl Rove being this lackadaisical?
And today, with Obama sternly intoning it would be "unfair" to work on HCR until Sen.-elect Brown is seated, the sense of urgency to pass the law, which Obama never seems to have been able to muster since last spring, seems completely dissipated. After all, according to him, HCR is only supposed to be the landmark of his entire candidacy. Why all the rush and hubbub, he seems to be saying. We’ve still got 3 more years! What 2010 midterm? Lack of health care is a lagging indicator! Whip Inflation Now!
The disconnect of urgency and the ascent of complacency in the administration’s public actions of late seems to have no rational reason. Battle fatigue? Smugness? Insularity?
Or is that Obama is realizing that upon 12 months reflection, he just doesn’t want the job anymore?
Sidebar: As a matter of comparison, George W. Bush and the RNC never would have let a disaster like this happen (losing Kennedy’s seat). Karl Rove would have dispatched an army of Blackwater-trained campaign workers and five trunks full of blood diamonds to Mass. to make sure the Kennedy’s seat was a lock, even if it took putting Martha Coakley on a Segway and wheeling her around town 24/7 to shake hands and a few blasts of plastic surgery to wipe the cringe off her face. That’s what administrations do who are dead serious about winning.