Skip to comments.As November election nears, splits in Democratic coalition resurface
Posted on 06/11/2012 2:37:58 AM PDT by Libloather
As November election nears, splits in Democratic coalition resurface
By Niall Stanage - 06/11/12 05:00 AM ET
Divisions in the Democratic coalition have burst into view, endangering both President Obama and his party colleagues in Congress as Novembers election nears.
Fissures have opened over everything from tax policy and former President Bill Clintons off-message comments to recriminations following the partys fiasco in the Wisconsin recall, which some say should have been avoided.
Democrats disagree over the wisdom of Obamas attacks on Republican Mitt Romneys private equity background at Bain Capital and are split over the proposed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canadas vast oil sands.
The divides are opening just as Republicans appear more unified, which underlines the danger for Democrats and highlights an abrupt reversal in the two major parties fortunes.
Just a few months ago, Republicans were absorbed in a bitter primary battle, and mutual attacks among GOP hopefuls filled the airwaves.
But last weeks news that Romney and the Republicans had outperformed Obama and the Democrats in May fundraising suggested the party of the right was coalescing, as did news of weekly strategy calls between Romneys campaign and GOP leadership.
Wisconsin, where GOP Gov. Scott Walker trounced a recall effort last week, exposed tensions between Washington Democrats, including the president, and the labor movement.
Many in Washington thought the recall was a bad idea from the start, something reflected in Obamas reluctance to get involved at any level beyond his Twitter feed.
The lack of effort added to disillusionment among union activists already unhappy with the low priority the White House had accorded to issues such as card check that they hold dear.
After the result, liberals formed a circular firing squad. Speaking to The Hill last week, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and soon-to-retire Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) complained the entire effort to heave Walker out of office had been a miscalculation.
Rendell called the push a dumb political fight. Frank asserted people on the Democratic side made a big mistake ... My side picked a fight they shouldnt have picked.
The Democratic fissures reach into policy matters as well as political strategy.
Clintons TV comments suggesting he was in favor of temporarily extending the Bush tax rates for everyone were very different from the White House position that people earning more than $250,000 per year should start paying higher taxes on Jan. 1.
Some high-profile Democrats on Capitol Hill seem to sing from the Clinton songbook, rather than echoing the White House on tax rates.
Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) last week indicated that they were undecided about extending the Bush rates for everyone. Tellingly, both senators are facing reelection challenges this year.
Other Democrats would prefer a strategy that pushes instead for higher rates only on people earning more than $1 million annually. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took that position in a letter to GOP leaders, although her spokesman denied this should be seen as a gentle prod to the White House. Senate Democratic messaging guru Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) also favors the $1 million threshold.
Clintons break with the White House on taxes was only his latest difference with Obama.
The former president had already vexed aides to Obama by referring to Mitt Romneys sterling business record during a period when the presidents reelection team was attacking Romney as an uncaring venture capitalist.
Clintons narrow defense of Romney also played into an ongoing controversy about the Obama reelection teams aggressive approach. Prior to Clintons intervention, Newark mayor Cory Booker had caused the biggest ripple. But others, including Rendell, had also expressed unease.
In the process of leveling those criticisms, however, the three men also reopened old fault lines with more strident liberals who have long been critical of the coziness of centrist Democrats with Wall Street.
Obama also faces a split on the Keystone XL pipeline. Back in April, 69 House Democrats defied a threat of a White House veto to back a transportation bill that would have advanced the controversial pipeline project. Republicans plan to continue pressing the issue on Capitol Hill and the campaign trail, in part to further expose the Democratic rift.
Still, if Obamas partnership with Democrats in Congress may be tense, neither side is close to filing for divorce just yet. Many Democrats insist the tax cuts issue will ultimately play to their advantage, helping tar Republicans as in thrall to the demands of multimillionaires.
More broadly, Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said his members remained enthusiastic backers of the president.
This caucus is solidly behind President Obama, and as goes the president, will go this caucus. Were inextricably linked to his success, and thats why were fighting so hard for his agenda to be brought to the floor, Larson told The Hill on Friday.
Obama loyalists insist the Wisconsin vote was not reflective of the likely outcome of the presidential election in the Badger State. They may be right: Polls continue to show Obama with a healthy lead over Romney there, and exit polls last week indicated a significant number of voters who had backed Walker also declared a preference for Obama in the presidential match-up.
Outside observers also suggest that reports of the demise of the union movement as a political force in the wake of the Wisconsin vote may be exaggerated.
What I expect to see is a weaker union movement that is less popular, but that doesnt mean that public employee unions arent going to continue to be major players in electoral politics for the foreseeable future, said Taylor Dark, a political science professor at California State University, Los Angeles, who is an expert on labor unions. They will continue to have a lot of money and numbers.
At the level of presidential politics, however, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) had insisted prior to the vote that the contest would serve as a dry run for the Obama campaign in Wisconsin.
Once the results came in, her counterpart at the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, gleefully insisted that the battle had indeed been a great dry run. To his mind, the recall results had proven Republicans have the infrastructure and enthusiasm that will help us defeat President Obama in Wisconsin.
Maybe unity, too, will be a stronger factor for the GOP than most people predicted just a few months back. Romneys ability to out-fundraise Obama last month could be a sign of his partys new togetherness.
For Romney to do better [than Obama] induces more money people to contribute, veteran Republican strategist Ed Rollins told The Hill.
To me, it shows how much Republicans want to win: after all the primary stuff, Romney is their guy and theyre going to get behind him.
You would think some of the Dims in Congress would be rooting for Pubs to get control of everything. They are arrogant and/or ideological enough to think the Pubs will fail to turn things around and can be blamed for the final collapse.
Behold! The great UNITER!! Bask in his Hope! Revel in his Change... For he has come to lower the seas, heal the earth and bring us all together as a nation.
I was listening to WINS as I drove to Connecticut yesterday, and some wealthy individual has taken ads urging the Dems to drop Obama and nominate Hillary instead.
We haven’t seen real in-fighting yet. When the Democrat constiuency finally realizes that paycheck they’ve been getting doesn’t have anything to back it up and they will have to [gasp] share, or be cut off, or [horror] work, there’s gonna be some mighty ticked off slackers.
And, in shock, no one actually realized he had actually pulled the plug.....................
There’s a crack in the china, also heard the dump zero for hilldabeast commercial
These criminal D-Rats are about to have a major wake up and there’s nothing they can do but face the consequences.
Absolutely.. the dems are headed for a major breakup.. after all, look how the PUMAs derailed Obama in 2008./s
In all seriousness, the dems will still follow their dear leader because it`s what they`re directed to do. Intramural squabbles go by the wayside with `rats at election time. They live by one creed: The needs of the Party come first and foremost. Nothing else matters.
Absolutely. An article like this is just propaganda. They are not worried about "Democrats". The are worried about "Independents".
A very satisfying article, indeed.
Yep you nailed it
Democrat voters will never change
If they could think they wouldn’t be democrats
Obama has no one to blame but himself.
Often these leftists start to believe their own propaganda. One of their guiding stars is everybody really wants unlimited abortion, and gay marriage - the only thing holding that back are remnants of sad, uneducated rural types.
When the Obama came out for gay marriage, it was as if he shone a giant light on the Dems and said, look how radical we are. Many regular folk I know took notice, and did not like it. And as far as cracks go, I know a lot of blacks did a double take at that one.
they are forgetting the biggest one, Blacks vs. Hispanics (if they continue to railroad George Zimmerman that is)
Ummm, guys, if this is true, doesn't this violate rule #11 of "The rules of the Republican Party"?
Rule #11 states:
(a) The Republican National Committee shall not, without the prior written and filed approval of all members of the Republican National Committee from the state involved, contribute money or in-kind aid to any candidate for any public or party office except the nominee of the Republican Party or a candidate who is unopposed in the Republican primary after the filing deadline for that office. In those states where state law establishes a nonpartisan primary in which Republican candidates could participate, but in which the general election may not include a Republican candidate, the candidate endorsed by a convention held under the authority of the state Republican Party shall be recognized by the Republican National Committee as the Republican nominee.
(b) No state Republican Party rule or state law shall be observed that allows persons who have participated or are participating in the selection of any nominee of a party other than the Republican Party, including, but not limited to, through the use of a multiparty primary or similar type ballot, to participate in the selection of a nominee of the Republican Party for that general election. No person nominated in violation of this rule shall be recognized by the Republican National Committee as the nominee.