May 14, 2015

Accountability in the Obama Administration

A couple weeks late on this one, but just came across it yesterday, thanks to Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt. A follow-up on last year’s VA scandals:

The nationwide scandal last spring over manipulated wait times at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals led to the ouster of the secretary of veterans affairs and vows from the new leadership that people would be held accountable.
Then in February, the new secretary, Robert A. McDonald, asserted in a nationally televised interview that the department had fired 60 people involved in manipulating wait times to make it appear that veterans were receiving care faster than they were. In fact, the department quickly clarified after that interview, only 14 people had been removed from their jobs, while about 60 others had received lesser punishments.Now, new internal documents show that the real number of people removed from their jobs is much smaller still: at most, three.

The documents given this month to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which provided them to The New York Times, show that the department punished a total of eight of its 280,000 employees for involvement in the scandal.

One was fired, one retired in lieu of termination, one’s termination is pending, and five were reprimanded or suspended for up to two months.

So, the Obama Administration deals with a culture of lies and cover-ups by … lying about what they’re doing about it.

And meanwhile, I wonder what’s being done about the veterans who need care?

(Please feel free to treat this as an open thread — usual rules apply).

  2:00 pm Barack Obama, Open Threads  

March 18, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Survey

Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Poll 

How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as president?

  • Strongly approve 24%
  • Somewhat approve 23%
  • Somewhat disapprove 13%
  • Strongly disapprove 39%

President Obama Job Approval

  • Approve 47%
  • Disapprove 52%

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

  3:30 am 2016, Barack Obama, Poll Watch  

March 17, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Survey

Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Poll 

How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as president?

  • Strongly approve 25%
  • Somewhat approve 23%
  • Somewhat disapprove 13%
  • Strongly disapprove 37%

President Obama Job Approval

  • Approve 48%
  • Disapprove 50%

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

  9:53 am 2016, Barack Obama, Poll Watch  

March 16, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Survey

Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Poll 

How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as president?

  • Strongly approve 26%
  • Somewhat approve 22%
  • Somewhat disapprove 14%
  • Strongly disapprove 37%

President Obama Job Approval

  • Approve 48%
  • Disapprove 51%

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

  9:51 am 2016, Barack Obama, Poll Watch  

March 15, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Survey + Sunday Open Thread

Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Poll 

How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as president?

  • Strongly approve 25%
  • Somewhat approve 24%
  • Somewhat disapprove 13%
  • Strongly disapprove 37%

President Obama Job Approval

  • Approve 49%
  • Disapprove 50%

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

  11:53 am 2016, Barack Obama, Poll Watch  

March 13, 2015

How Good is Hillary at Campaigning?

Gallup just released the following graph plotting Hillary’s favorability since 1992:


Notice the several dips. They occur in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2007-2008.

What’s so significant about those years? They’re election years. 1992 and 1996 were when Bill was elected president. 2000 was when Hillary was elected senator. 2008 is when she lost her “inevitable” presidential campaign against a one-term Senate backbencher.

What does that say about her skills as a campaigner?

In 1992 and 1996 she was merely in a supporting roll as future 1st lady. The real candidate, her husband Bill, is one of the most skilled politicians of our generation. In 2000 she was handed the Democratic senate nomination in deep-blue New York on a silver platter. For her not to win it would have taken a Herculean effort on her part.  Finally, the 2008 Presidential nomination race was hers to lose. And that is exactly what she did to a first term backbencher with little or no resume to speak of.

I think it should be an established fact that she is a poor campaigner — mediocre at best. Yet the Democrats have maneuvered themselves into a situation where she is the only conceivable person they have to nominate for their 2016 presidential candidate. They are stuck. They simply do not have a “Plan B”.

I remember hearing six years ago that Barrack Obama wanted to be a transformative President much in the same mold as Ronald Reagan was.  I guess in at least one way, he’ll get his wish. When Reagan took office, the Democratic party was the dominant party. When he left office, the Republican party was, and it remained such for a decade or more. In a similar manner, when Obama took office, the Democrats were far and away the dominant party. When he leaves, they will very likely be the weaker party, a situation that will likely last for at least a decade.

 

  9:38 am Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton  

February 26, 2015

Walker, Education, and Image

People don’t vote for candidates, they vote for an image.

That’s a general axiom Democrats seem to understand much better than Republicans at this stage of the game. Politics has always been about trying to market yourself — we can go all the way back to Abraham Lincoln’s campaign team famously choosing “Honest Abe” to market their candidate, for instance — and likewise, marketing your opponent as someone Jack and Jill Voter couldn’t pull the lever for. But in today’s intensely media-saturated, image-and-symbol driven culture, it matters more than ever before.

As I wrote about seven years ago (!) here at Race, President Barack Obama is a modern shining example of this fact. Nobody cared what his positions were on the issues. For most American voters, Obama was simply and powerfully an image of hope and progress. They never factored in his actual stances on issues, they were not voting for an agenda or a political viewpoint or a party… they were voting for an image. A caricature of sorts. A carefully crafted, marketed image.

And it worked.

In 2012, Mitt Romney was the victim of the converse of this rule. President Obama and his team managed to paint Governor Romney (sometimes with the Governor’s unintended assistance) as a wealthy, out-of-touch woman-hater. Even though the facts stood contrary to that image (see Women, Binder Full of), that is how voters saw and believed the image of Governor Romney. The election did not come down to Obama and Romney, it came down to hope and inspiration versus the rich guy who doesn’t care.

This issue of image is immediately what came to mind when the brouhaha over Governor Scott Walker’s education was suddenly thrust into the top headlines this past week. Governor Walker, for those who may be arriving late to the scene of the crash, left college before he finished his senior year. He has no college degree to his name. For some in the media, this calls into question his fitness to serve as President of the United States.

Allow me to pause for a moment and be as clear as possible here: I do not believe a college degree is, or should be, a requirement to serve as President of the United States. The Constitution never places any kind of qualifying educational standard on potential candidates. Governor Walker’s accomplishments stand on their own, with or without a college degree, and to somehow denigrate them now, after the fact, because he didn’t finish his senior year is beyond the pale.

Those are the facts. However… again, we must take into account the issue of identity. By itself, a lack of college degree would be meaningless. At the same time the media began questioning that, however, they also realized something else about Scott Walker: he doesn’t believe in evolution. Now again: on this specific issue, I give a hearty, “Who cares?”. I excoriated the debate moderators way back in 2007 for asking the GOP candidates if they believed in evolution or creationism, and I would excoriate them again today. Factually speaking, it has no bearing on how well someone will govern this country. But now we have two pieces of information on which opponents will begin crafting Scott Walker’s image: he never finished college, and he doesn’t believe in evolution.

Now, add a third item of interest: Wisconsin is currently experiencing some pretty sizeable bumps fiscally speaking (which will undoubtedly and messily complicate Governor Walker’s campaign-to-be). In order to close a large budget deficit, Walker has proposed cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from… Wisconsin state university budgets.

So now we can easily imagine the line of attack on Governor Walker: a college dropout who doesn’t believe in evolution and wants to cut the budgets of higher learning institutions across his home state. Not exactly a pretty picture. Not a winning image. The cherry on top, of course, is that Governor Walker is a Republican, a party many Americans already see as being anti-science and anti-education (see AP History in Oklahoma, for instance). He plays into the stereotypes with little to no effort required from his opponents.

Of course, Governor Walker isn’t the only Republican governor talking about cutting higher education funding, which just exacerbates the problem. Governors Jindal and Christie have proposed cutting university funding in Louisiana and New Jersey as ways to fill their respective state budget shortfalls as well. When you are a potential candidate exploring a presidential primary full of voters who believe the words of Grover Norquist as gospel truth, common sense financial solutions can take a back seat to becoming a perceived enemy to higher education. This is especially true and dangerous for Governor Walker, given the overall image starting to be painted of him. Every stumble and misspoken phrase along the campaign trail, which might be forgiven from other candidates, will be treated as headline news from the Wisconsin governor.

None of this is a reason for Republicans to avoid nominating Walker. He may well end up being the best candidate in the field. But if they do, the GOP must understand the hand they’ve been dealt and respond accordingly — and the past week hasn’t been an encouraging response on that front. Republicans can circle the wagons and rally ‘round the flag as much as they want on this one, screaming about a biased and elitist media until their face turns blue. But that will do little to nothing to actually solving the image problem Walker is about to be branded with. Walker must work overtime to paint an alternative image — a more positive picture of who he is that can shatter some of these early stereotypes and display him as an intelligent, competent leader. There is a massive difference between being viewed as a blue collar, folksy midwesterner (on the balance, a very positive image) and being lumped in with the Sarah Palins and Rick Perrys of the world. It will be interesting to watch if and how Walker and his team steer this ship toward the former.

February 15, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Survey

Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Poll 

How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as president?

  • Strongly approve 25%
  • Somewhat approve 24%
  • Somewhat disapprove 10%
  • Strongly disapprove 39%

President Obama Job Approval

  • Approve 49%
  • Disapprove 49%

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

  12:00 pm 2016, Barack Obama, Poll Watch  

January 26, 2015

Trouble in Paradise, Obama/Clinton Tensions Rise

It would appear that all is not rosy between Barack Obama and his presumptive successor, Hilary Clinton. The Hill reports:

New tensions are emerging in the relationship between allies of President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

At issue is the fate of the political equivalent of gold dust — the enormous email list, comprised of many millions of supporters and donors, that the Obama team has compiled over the course of his two presidential campaigns.

The Clinton camp would dearly love to get its hands on the list, but there is no promise as yet that the president’s aides will comply.

It’s really quite simple. Knowledge is power, and Obama doesn’t want to give up any power even if it might help the Democrats keep the White House and maybe even take back Congress after he is gone. It’s all about Barry. That’s pretty much been his story from the beginning. Why would anyone expect him to change now?

If he continues to horde the list, fellow Democrats must come to him to use it. That means a continual influence in the party. In other words, they would still have to bow and scrape to him (or so he hopes).

  10:07 am Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton  

January 18, 2015

Poll Watch: Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Survey

Rasmussen President Obama Job Approval Poll 

How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as president?

  • Strongly approve 24%
  • Somewhat approve 25%
  • Somewhat disapprove 11%
  • Strongly disapprove 39%

President Obama Job Approval

  • Approve 49%
  • Disapprove 50%

Daily tracking results are collected via telephone surveys of 500 likely voters per night and reported on a three-day rolling average basis. To reach those who have abandoned traditional landline telephones, Rasmussen Reports uses an online survey tool to interview randomly selected participants from a demographically diverse panel. The margin of sampling error for the full sample of 1,500 Likely Voters is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

  1:48 pm Barack Obama, Poll Watch  

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