Sunday Open Thread - A Leaderless Party
I'm jumping back in for a day, and may begin writing more in the coming weeks, if only to give the Obama supporters among us the chance to flame me for my Clinton support every time I dare criticize their leader.
I said "their leader" because it should be clear to many by now that Barack Obama was never interested in being the leader of the Democratic Party. He was never interested in working from within to remake the party into a post-transformational political force that would take advantage of demographic shifts to cement in place a Democratic majority for years to come. And those who follow and support him are more invested in him than they are with the Democratic Party that gave him its nomination and platform from which to grab the presidency in 2008. Rather, for Obama it's all about him, his "brand", and his image and message; he's not interested in spending large amounts of his time pointing out differences between the parties or doing the traditional party building tasks, because he assumes the party and its base is with him automatically.
Yet such assumptions, like his naive pursuit of bipartisanship after eight years of hyperpartisan behavior by the opposition are galling and lethal in a president, and wholly indicative of why this president will fail his party this November and perhaps in 2012. His job as president is to protect those who voted with him and to show voters that there is a difference between the parties. His job is to keep the independents that voted for him in 2008 with the Democratic Party in 2010, and make the argument that turning back now sets the country back another half-decade. Yet you won't hear Barack Obama give such a speech, nor will you hear him give any speech that has numerous references to "the Democratic Party." He isn't into that, and doesn't think it's his job. Yet he is about to find out that he'll have fewer allies for the next two years, and he'll have emboldended his enemies to repeat their behavior on a grander scale.
Barack Obama is not a political leader; he fancies himself a movement leader, yet an entire party is tethered to him and has its future anchored to him. Barack Obama finds it easier to run against Washington than to effectively lead it or manage it. As a result, the Democratic Party is a leaderless entity at its greatest moment of vulnerability.