Amid the celebrating and fist-pumping after last's election victory was a slightly sour (but still valid) comment from Chris Matthews about what President Obama failed to do during the last 4 years.
As I've said to other people in my circle, I'd like to see Obama do a little more celebrating of fellow Democrats. He doesn't have many opportunities to do it. Conventions are great, but by the time they occur, writing a party 'narrative' is often too late. Perhaps I was so glad he/we won last night that I didn't bother to scrutinize his words. Who can argue with themes like 'unity' and 'progress?'
Chris Matthews, that's who!
This is Chris Matthews NOT having a good time:
Believe it or not, staunch Obama supporter Chris Matthews was unimpressed with Obama’s victory speech after winning the 2012 presidential election.I think Chris has a point here. As I said, no one can argue with what Obama said. But I'd like to see more team-building in the Democratic Party, and you can't do that when you talk about across-the-board unity all the time.
According to Matthews, Obama did not properly credit those who helped him win and did a disservice to the Democratic Party by not recognizing others who tasted victory.
“I may be the only one here who’s not satisfied with that speech,” Matthews began (and he was correct). He quickly went on to lambaste the president:
The Democratic party really wasn’t given any attention tonight. The president is the leader of the Democratic party. Whatever forging of relationship he’s going to do with the other side, it’s going to start with unity.
They did very well, these Senate candidates, because they ran on the same platform, basically, as everyone pointed out tonight: stronger regulation of Wall Street, redress of inequality in income through tax policy, real fighting for that stuff. Dealing with industrial policy: We really go in and work for a company, like the auto industry, and save it. You don’t sit around and watch it. You don’t talk about bankruptcy.
There’s real policy aggressiveness here that’s come about over the last several years with the Democratic party at the front of it, and I didn't sense that he acted as a party leader, or even as a leader of a faction. It was him, again, alone.
Perhaps Obama realizes he's a divisive figure (to dumbass republicans, anyway), so he feels obliged to talk about unity and calm whenever he speaks. But I almost never hear him cheerlead for his own party.
Beside simple gloating, Chris provided another valid reason for spreading the 'blue' brand:
He then pivoted to Obama having to unify Republicans and Democrats but doing it with “power,” something Obama hasn’t done: “They [Democrats need to] go to the table and say, ‘Look, we’ll give you some stuff to get you aboard, but we’re coming with our program.’ And I think that’s something that he’s going to have to do or we’re going to be stuck with this fiscal cliff again, with the dicking around — excuse me — about debt ceilings again — all this stupid stuff that gets him involved with weakness.”The reason the GOP has been able to stonewall President Obama is because of their control of the House. Short of filibuster reform, the only thing that will 'encourage' some bipartisanship is the threat of losing control of that chamber in the 2014 elections.
When groups of people are voted into or out of office, a narrative is always behind it. It's either "They will save us" or "They will destroy us." Guess which one Romney created?
I used the word 'created' because it was entirely due to the actions of Romney and fellow republicans. Democrats benefited enormously from Romney and his cohorts shooting themselves in the foot on every social issue during the election, so it was easy for so many social groups (gays, women, latinos, blacks, middle class) to favorably compare Democrats to Republicans, then vote accordingly.
But what if they didn't screw themselves in epic fashion? What if we never saw the 47% video? (BTW, we all owe James Carter IV a drink.) In word and deed, Romney painted himself as an evil, lying, outsourcing plutocrat. It was easy for voters to vilify him without any help from Team Obama.
If Democrats intend to take back the House in 2014, we need to reach people in 'red' states who normally 1) don't vote at all, or 2) vote republican.
I believe the economy will skyrocket in the coming year. That will help to address the issues of voter turnout and party loyalty more than a little bit. But Democrats need to be the ones who dial up the anger and division for once, instead of the republicans providing a terrible candidate who creates it for us. And this time, it has to come from the top.
Chris seemed to be less optimistic than Rachel Maddow about the likelihood of Obama providing explicit support to fellow Democrats:
“Rach, Rach, you congratulate your fellows, you support your confederates, you unite your party, and then you go into negotiations with the other party. That could have been done tonight.”I want to take back the House in 2014. Between control of the House for the last 2 years of his presidency, his appointment of 1 to 3 Supreme Court judges, and an improved economy, Obama might be able to accomplish more in his last 2 years than his first 4. Imagine that for a second.
“It’s been a problem, It’s been a problem with the president,” he continued later. “I know he won tonight, it’s fabulous he won tonight. … But I would like to see a united leadership here, not just a solo act.”
When Maddow responded that comes “Wednesday,” Matthews delivered his most scathing critique.
“I keep waiting for Wednesday. I’ve been waiting for four years.”
To do that, will Obama continue to be 'Nice Guy-in-Chief,' or will he have to go 'Alan Grayson' on America?