Storified by Brian Empric· Mon, Mar 04 2013 11:10:44
“[T]here is a more general sense that Obama, sleeves rolled up and taking his case to the people, wants to avoid letting Republicans up off the mat.”
“Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons (@JamalSimmons) said that stump-style appearances are ‘what he’s best at. It’s why he got elected twice. It is his core strength. People voted for him because they wanted him to shake things up and go in a different direction and that’s exactly what he’s doing.’”
“Obama faces the dilemma that confronts all second-term presidents. He needs to accomplish as much as possible before lame-duck status kicks in — and postpone that day for as long as possible.”
“Obama’s current strategy might not only help him advance toward those goals; it could also assist Democrats in their battles to hold onto their Senate majority and even seize control of the House of Representatives in the 2014 midterm elections… There are no guarantees that the Democrats can buck precedent, which indicates that the party of a second-term president usually loses seats in midterm elections.”
“The risk of an endless campaign is neglecting the task of running government,” GOP strategist Ken Lundberg (@newscall) told The Hill. “All the affiliated rhetoric, brow-beating and posturing will produce very few tangible results because it alienates potential allies and energizes political adversaries.”
“There is another, simpler part of Obama’s current approach, however. The president sometimes has a thinly veiled impatience with the ways of Washington in general and the idiosyncrasies of Congress in particular. Supporters and independent observers note that, temperamentally, he is more suited to the stump than to legislative sausage-making.”
“In private meetings and phone calls, Mr. Obama’s aides have made clear that the new organization will rely heavily on a small number of deep-pocketed donors, not unlike the ‘super PACs’ whose influence on political campaigns Mr. Obama once deplored.
“At least half of the group’s budget will come from a select group of donors who will each contribute or raise $500,000 or more, according to donors and strategists involved in the effort.”
“[I]t is not bound by federal contribution limits, laws that bar White House officials from soliciting contributions, or the stringent reporting requirements for campaigns.”
“The money will pay for salaries, rent and advertising, and will also be used to maintain the expensive voter database and technological infrastructure that knits together Mr. Obama’s 2 million volunteers, 17 million e-mail subscribers and 22 million Twitter followers.”
“Next month, Organizing for Action will hold a ‘founders summit’ at a hotel near the White House, where donors paying $50,000 each will mingle with Mr. Obama’s former campaign manager, Jim Messina, and Mr. [Jon] Carson [OFA’s new executive director], who previohttp://storify.com/brian_empric/monday-s-menagerie-3-4-13/editusly led the White House Office of Public Engagement.
“Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House. Moreover, the new cash demands on Mr. Obama’s top donors and bundlers come as many of them are angling for appointments to administration jobs or ambassadorships.”
“Organizing for Action appears to be an extension of the administration, stocked with alumni of Mr. Obama’s White House and campaign teams and devoted solely to the president’s second-term agenda.”
“Organizing for Action said it would accept unlimited personal and corporate contributions, but no money from political action committees, lobbyists or foreign citizens. Officials said they would focus — for now — on grass-roots organizing, amplified by Internet advertising…”
“After his electoral wipeout in November — and motivated by years of resentment that’s spilling over — Rove’s credibility within his own party is at an all-time low.”
“He’s been re-signed by Fox, which guarantees him a powerful bully pulpit going forward. But, while it might be a stretch to say he’s gone from guru to goat, he will have to spend months making a case to skeptical donors, several Republican fundraisers conceded.”
“’He’s got a donor backlash and he’s got an activists backlash,’ said one prominent Republican donor. Several people who cut big checks to Crossroads feel burned, this person said, adding some believe Rove is letting his group off too easy with his insistence that the problem last year was bad candidates.”
“A few rich Republicans have flatly rejected solicitations from Rove since Election Day, according to a GOP strategist who works with donors.”
“Nobody played more ironclad hardball than Karl for a long, long time,” said one operative. “When you don’t have all the power or cards, don’t be surprised [that] when you make mistakes … that long knives come out.”
“In the states, Republicans are governing successfully. At the think tanks, conservatives are arguing intelligently. Around the country, activists are organizing energetically. All well and good. And important. But not enough.”
“If Republicans in Congress lack the nerve to stand up to President Obama, or the moxie to do so effectively, all other admirable efforts could end up being for naught. The federal nanny state could be so expanded, its tentacles could become so much more deeply embedded in the fabric of American life, that it would prove almost impossible for the next administration, however well-intentioned, to extricate us from it…”
“It may be that resistance is less edifying than reform. It’s perhaps true that resistance is less intellectually stimulating than devising remedies. It could well be the case that resistance is less inspiring than reviving a party or rebuilding a movement. And there may well be occasions where emergencies and the national interest will call us to work with the president. But the chief duty for Republicans over the next four years will be resistance.”
“This is a moment, as we face Obama, to emphasize the superiority of conservatism’s facts even at the expense of the accusation of meanness. There will be time, in 2016, to leave the meanness behind. But fact-based resistance is needed now.”
“The British have known for centuries that it’s not enough to hope for happy and glorious days in the future. It’s also necessary, with God’s help, to act in the present to scatter our enemies and make them fall. It’s necessary to confound their politics and frustrate their knavish tricks.”
“I’m told we’re living in a Moderate Moment. After Mitt Romney lost the election, moderate Republicans started emerging from every corner of the country, from Northwest Washington, D.C. to Arlington, Virginia. It was time, they declared, for calm voices to prevail in the Republican Party. The Tea Party, the right-wing, the ‘Conservative Entertainment Complex’ — all this must be cast overboard for the GOP to win again.”
“Parker calls for a RINO uprising, a new faction on the right to counter the Tea Party. That’s all well and good. There are genuine differences of opinion on the right, and a little inward dialectic never hurt anyone… But how would her brand of Republicanism differ from the conservative base she derides?”
“Since the election, we’ve heard a lot of nebulous chatter from self-styled moderates about how the GOP must reach out to the middle class, appeal to Latino voters, change, modernize.
“But how exactly do we do that? So far the only concrete answer seems to be softening the conservative stance on immigration. But according to the Pew Hispanic Center, education, jobs and the economy, health care, and the deficit all rate as bigger concerns for Latinos than immigration. Well then, counter moderates, conservatives need to gear their message towards jobs instead of deficit reduction. But Romney talked about jobs constantly during the campaign (‘Mr. President, where are the jobs?’). And many conservatives believe job creation is directly linked to reducing the debt and regulatory burdens on small businesses. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.”
“Beyond that one line about policy, her column is little more than a train of supercilious advice about how to distinguish RINOs from righties. Righties are ‘the fringe.’ RINOs are ‘defiantly proud, aggressively centrist and unapologetically sane.’ Righties carry ‘gigantic photos of aborted fetuses to political conventions.’ RINOs are ‘too busy Being Normal to organize.’”
“Parker’s primary objection seems to be one of culture and temperament rather than substance. Those tri-cornered-hat-wearing Tea Partiers are embarrassing all the normal and well-bred people out there.
“This is the dichotomy established by many moderate Republicans: shrill, rigid, movement conservatives on one side and open-minded RINOs on the other.”
“In reality, the conservative movement consists of traditionalists, libertarians, and hawks; politicians, writers, scholars, and radio hosts; angry and wonky, loud and soft, following in the tradition of Burke and the politics of Reagan, but disagreeing vibrantly on both issues and techniques…”
“The RINO movement consists of…well, people who say they’re RINOs. They’re pro-library-voices and anti-tri-cornered hats and pro-middle-class. Beyond that it’s hard to tell. But the left seems to approve.”
“62% of the public says the GOP is out of touch with the American people, 56% think it is not open to change and 52% say the party is too extreme.”
“The Republican Party’s image has been hit hard over the past decade. In January, just 33% said they viewed the party favorably, among the lowest marks of the last 20 years. The GOP’s favorable rating has not been above 50% since shortly after George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004.”
“Republicans are more critical of their party than Democrats are of theirs on most issues. For example, 36% of Republicans say the GOP is out of touch with the American people. Just 23% of Democrats say their party is out of touch…”
“However, Republicans overwhelmingly credit their party for having strong principles; 85% say the GOP has strong principles while 13% say it does not. And 80% of Republicans say their party is looking out for the country’s long-term future.”
“Among Republicans themselves, 69% had a favorable impression (of the GOP), down from a recent high of 89% reported after the GOP convention.”
“The national party is leaderless and nearly issue-less, but besides that, is thriving and in fine fighting trim.
“It used to be that the Republicans were nasty people because they exploited ‘wedge issues,’ which was the pejorative way to describe issues that were popular with the public but made Democrats uncomfortable. The phrase has been long-ago retired. Even if it hadn’t been, it’s not clear what Republican issue it would apply to anymore.
“Once, taxes and national security were the party’s pillars, supplemented by domestic issues like welfare reform and crime and by symbolic issues like the Pledge of Allegiance and flag burning. Now, the pillars are in a state of despair.”
“The latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has Democrats leading on the following issues: looking out for the middle class, Medicare, health care, reducing gun violence, Social Security, immigration, taxes and the economy. The good news for Republicans is that they lead on everything else. The bad news is that everything else is only spending, the deficit and national security.
“The problem with the deficit as an issue is that people care about economic growth more, and the problem with spending cuts is that people like them more in the abstract than in reality.”
“The House Republicans mainly have blocking power… Woe to the republic if they didn’t. But if you block things, you’re easily labeled an obstructionist and wouldn’t you know it, people don’t like obstructionists.
“Their only hope to deflect the nation a bit from its profligate budgetary path is confrontations coinciding with key fiscal inflection points…”
“Two hundred and thirty members of the House don’t have a chance against a president, let alone a celebrity. This won’t change anytime soon. It is way too early to have a presidential candidate or even a presidential field, so the party lacks a head and therefore a unified voice.”