Left wing talk show host Rachel Maddow expressed annoyance with Democrats who are running away from the successes of the last six years, specifically the Affordable Healthcare Act. Appearing on Late Night with Seth Meyers, she discussed why Democrats are distancing themselves and their campaigns from the president, prompting her to say that maybe they deserved to lose because of it. Drawing on the evidence that the policies the administration have put in place are working, she expressed a lot of confusion about the strategy. Previously on her show, however, she looked at the history behind deserting sitting presidents and what might be behind the exodus of today. Fundamentally, according to her, it is a question of the future of the Democratic party and what it will be after Obama has left office. For now, however, Rachel Maddow is not the only one who has noticed the trend and she is mad at Democrats for jumping ship right when things are going so well.
It is clear from the evidence that Democratic candidates running for office right now are reluctant to affiliate themselves strongly with the president. Somewhat famously, Alison Lundergan-Grimes, who is running against Mitch McConnell, has appealed to the Constitution and its right to privacy in order to avoid revealing if she voted to re-elect Obama. Even more politicians are running away from Obama’s signature policy, the Affordable Healthcare Act. Many of them are in vulnerable seats facing firm opposition from Republican opponents, so maybe their strategy is to seem more to the right than they actually are. The outcome, however, is that more and more Democrats are leaving the Obama camp.
To Rachel Maddow, this is simply bizarre. According to her, Obama’s policies especially on healthcare are huge successes. She told Seth Meyers that millions of people had signed up through the act, which had not failed in the way Republicans predicted and continue to claim it has. because Republicans are simply wrong on that issue, she would expect Democrats to use it against their opponents, but they have not. “They have nothing to say,” she told the Late Night host, referring to Republicans. “And the Democrats have decided: ‘Okay then. We don’t want to talk about it either.'” Maddow left the late night shows audience with the fact that this was a very “weird strategic move.”
Early in the week on The Rachel Maddow Show, however, she looked at the matter in a bit more detail and revealed at least part of the reason she is mad that Democrats are jumping ship. She looked at recent history in which the desertion of presidents is not all that uncommon. It happened to Reagan when his former chief of staff published a tell-all book that revealed the president and first lady’s obsession with astrology, which was confirmed by the White House. It also happened to Clinton and his former advisor Dick Morris, who was disgraced after his relationship with a call girl was exposed. Now much the same situation has struck President Obama as former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has published a book which is very critical of the president’s choices and leadership.
Maddow noticed, however, that Panetta’s opinions are strangely different from what he said at the time. In fact, they were the polar opposite of his former stance, which defended Obama quite well. Why the change? Maddow speculated that it had something to do with 2016, as Panetta now works for what she called “the Clinton Campaign in exile.” It is true that the company he works for has strong ties to Hillary, but it is not conclusive evidence of a connection. But that is not the point for the geeky pundit. It all boils down to what the party will be in the future. She asked the open-ended question, “Is the future of Democratic party politics anti-Obama?”
She is not the only person to have noticed the trend and come out in support of Obama. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has penned a defence of Obama that appeared in the Rolling Stone. He notes that Obama does not deserve the severe bashing and desertion that he is currently receiving. In fact, he felt comfortable saying that “Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and… successful presidents in American history.” That is big praise from a man who has been skeptical of Obama in the past, but it is also backed up by numbers. Rolling Stone published a companion article offering 55 statistics of how successful Obama’s presidency has been. It included a pair of deficit numbers, one under Obama (2.8 percent of GDP in 2014) and the other from Reagan (an average of 4.2 percent of GDP).
If it seems strange that a magazine like Rolling Stone is publishing that kind of story, that is because it is. Maddow noted on her show that almost no one is talking about Obama’s successes. That might make it seem like there are none, but it is simply not true. The fact that Democrats are part of that misrepresentation has the MSNBC host fired up. As she told Seth Meyers, it seems very “weird.” But no matter how weird it is, Rachel Maddow is intent on showing how inaccurate a picture it paints of the president and why she is so mad at those Democrats who are jumping ship.
Opinion By Lydia Bradbury